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Arginine is an amino acid found in the body. It has been taken to lower blood pressure, improve heart function, and increase sex drive. Arginine can be taken as a pill or powder. Arginine can also be applied as a paste. It has been used to ease tooth sensitivity.


2 to 10 grams once daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Dentin hypersensitivity —likely to reduce symptoms and ease sensitivity when used as a paste C1
  • High blood pressure —likely to lower blood pressure D1, D2
  • Pre-eclampsia —likely to lower blood pressure G1, G2

May Be Effective

  • Necrotising enterocolitis—may prevent in preterm infants F1, F2

May Not Be Effective

  • Athletic performance—may not enhance athletic performance or improve recovery from exhaustion B1

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Acute myocardial infarction—unlikely to improve outcomes A1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Cancer treatment support H1
  • Hip and knee replacement support E1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use arginine and to take it orally for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any alternative therapy or supplements you are taking to make sure it does not interfere with your current treatment. For example:

  • People who have had a heart attack should talk to their doctors before taking arginine. It may worsen symptoms.


A. Acute Myocardial Infarction

A1. Sun T, Zhou WB, et al. Oral L-arginine supplementation in acute myocardial infarction therapy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Cardiol. 2009 Nov;32(11):649-652.

B. Athletic Performance

B1. Brooks JR, Oketch-Rabah H, et al. Safety and performance benefits of arginine supplements for military personnel: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2016 Nov;74(11):708-721.

C. Dentin Hypersensitivity

C1. Yan B, Yi J, et al. Arginine-containing toothpastes for dentin hypersensitivity: systematic review and meta-analysis. Quintessence Int. 2013; 44(9): 709-723.

D. High Blood Pressure

D1. Dong JY, Qin LQ, et al. Effects of oral L-arginine supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Am Heart J. 2011;162(6):959-965.

D2. Borghi C, Cicero AF. Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2017 Jan;83(1):163-171.

E. Hip and Knee Replacement Support

E1. Burgess LC, Phillips SM, et al. What Is the Role of Nutritional Supplements in Support of Total Hip Replacement and Total Knee Replacement Surgeries? A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 25;10(7). pii: E820.

F. Necrotising Enterocolitis

F1. Mitchell K, Lyttle A, et al. Arginine supplementation in prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in the premature infant: an updated systematic review. BMC Pediatr. 2014 Sep 10;14:226.

F2. Shah PS, Shah VS, et al. Arginine supplementation for prevention of necrotising enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;4:CD004339.

G. Pre-eclampsia

G1. Zhu Q, Yue X, et al. Effect of L-arginine supplementation on blood pressure in pregnant women: a meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Hypertens Pregnancy. 2013;32(1):32-41.

G2. Gui S, Jia J, et al. Arginine supplementation for improving maternal and neonatal outcomes in hypertensive disorder of pregnancy: a systematic review. J Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone Syst. 2014;15(1):88-96.

H. Cancer Treatment Support

H1. Marullo R, Castro M, et al. The metabolic adaptation evoked by arginine enhances the effect of radiation in brain metastases. Sci Adv. 2021;7(45):eabg1964. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abg1964.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 11/8/2021