Although erectile dysfunction can affect men of all ages, sexual preferences and ethnicities, there is no one cause behind it all. Some men may struggle to maintain an erection because of psychological reasons, others may have poor reactions to a prescription medication and others have a medical condition that inhibits blood flow to the penis. For some types of erectile dysfunction, supplements like L-arginine can be an effective means of treatment. Although it is unlikely to have any effect beyond a placebo on men with psychological erectile dysfunction, it can have drastic effects on those with heart conditions, artery problems or circulation issues that are leading to erection dysfunction.
All About L-arginine
L-arginine is a natural amino acid found within the bodies of men, women and children. L-arginine is used in the production of proteins, where it forms bonds among negatively charged bonds. This makes it a necessary amino acid. Along with forming proteins, L-arginine is used to release insulin at appropriate times after consuming food and when the body needs to get rid of ammonia as a waste product.
Although today scientists are familiar with L-arginine benefits and its role in the human body, that hasn’t always been the case. It was not until 1886 that the Swiss chemist Ernst Schultze isolated L-arginine in a laboratory setting and began to understand its full potential.
L-arginine can be found naturally in a variety of foods, so most healthy individuals have an adequate supply in their body without supplementation. However, there has been a recent rise in the creation and sale of L-arginine supplements among those who want to quickly and easily harness the potential of L-arginine for issues like erectile dysfunction.
How L-arginine Can Impact Erectile Dysfunction
The primary way that L-arginine can help individuals avoid physiological erection dysfunction is by encouraging blood flow to the penis. In order for a man to achieve an erection, there needs to be an adequate amount of nitric oxide, which is created by a mental stimulus. Then, arteries dilate, muscles compress and blood remains within the corpora cavernosa of the penis until sexual stimulus is gone or an ejaculation occurs. L-arginine can help with many different steps of the erection process.
Many oral pharmaceutical medications designed to eliminate erectile dysfunction work by eliminating an enzyme in the body called PDE5. This enzyme is not ideal when it comes to erections, as it blocks the production and use of nitric oxide, which is key in achieving or sustaining an erection. L-arginine is different because rather than blocking PDE5, it works to create more nitric oxide within the body.
Using L-arginine for erections also works because it improves the body’s circulation system and enhances blood flow. Unlike some prescriptions that should be taken immediately before sexual activity, L-arginine improves the body’s function as a whole so that erections are possible at any time. Since L-arginine is associated with improving kidney function, it can also help men with kidney problems as well as erectile dysfunction to address both health concerns at the same time.
Risks and Drawbacks of L-arginine
Since L-arginine is a natural amino acid, many people turn to it as a way to combat erectile dysfunction without as many side effects or risks. For the most part, this is true, especially among those people who wish to ingest L-arginine primarily through foods that are naturally rich in the amino acid. However, L-arginine supplements can have some drawbacks and risks, and each should be carefully considered by potential users before beginning treatment for erectile dysfunction or any other medical concern.
• Worsening of Asthma: One of the more unusual L-arginine side effects is that it has the potential to worsen respiratory problems in those who already have asthma. In rare cases, L-arginine supplements can cause users to have problems breathing, and it may even restrict the airway due to significant inflammation. Anyone who has asthma or any other respiratory condition may want to speak with their doctor before taking L-arginine.
• Intestinal Distress: Some of the most common side effects of supplementing with L-arginine are related to intestinal distress. While far from fatal, these side effects of L-arginine can be unpleasant and make life uncomfortable for users. Bloating, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and bloating are all possible after taking L-arginine. Thankfully, many of these intestinal distress problems are resolved without treatment as the body adjusts to the increased amount of L-arginine within the system.
• Low Blood Pressure: Many of the people who take L-arginine supplements have normal or high blood pressure, which means that they are very unlikely to experience this particular side effect. However, anyone with already low blood pressure may see it drop further after taking L-arginine. This can be dangerous as it could cause dizziness or even passing out.
• Not Recommended for Pregnant or Nursing Mothers: Currently, there is very little research on the effects of L-arginine on child development. While children do have L-arginine in their bodies naturally and consume L-arginine on a regular basis in solid foods, it has not yet been determined what L-arginine supplements might do during pregnancy or when children are infants. Although there is a lot of convincing research demonstrating that L-arginine can be beneficial to the sexual health of women, at this time, it is not safe to supplement while pregnant or nursing.
• Not Ideal for Those with Diabetes or Heart Conditions: Anyone who has suffered from a heart attack may find that their chances of a subsequent attack rise with the supplementation of L-arginine. In addition, men with diabetes should not take L-arginine as a supplement. Research suggests that taking L-arginine as well as some heart medications and diabetes medications can render the prescription medication less effective, leading to more complicated conditions. Those who are eager to take L-arginine despite a current prescription for diabetes or heart medication should always speak to their doctor before beginning any kind of L-arginine treatment.
Treatment Types and Practical Information About Using L-arginine
L-arginine can be taken in a variety of different ways. For men who just want to test the waters and make a few small changes in an effort to improve their erections, including more foods that naturally contain L-arginine is a simple option. Other treatment methods include L-arginine creams, L-arginine powders, L-arginine oral supplements and L-arginine patches.
• L-arginine Oral Supplements: The most popular way to consume L-arginine is orally in the form of a pill, capsule or tablet. L-arginine pills are generally easy to take, portable and convenient. It is important to check the dosage of each pill and read instructions carefully, as overdosing on L-arginine is easy when in pill form. L-arginine pills and capsules are generally filled with additional ingredients like silica, Magnesium Stearate, starch or gelatin.
• L-arginine Creams: Men and women alike can use L-arginine creams as a way to increase blood flow and circulation to parts of the body. Increasing blood flow with this cream may be an effective way of enhancing erections and eliminating any dysfunction. However, it is important to test L-arginine creams on the arm and wait 24 hours before applying it near or on the genitals, as it is possible for there to be an adverse or unpleasant reaction for some users.
• L-arginine Patches: Although L-arginine patches are among the least common ways to ingest and use L-arginine, they are an option for those who don’t enjoy taking pills and who don’t want to deal with a messy cream. Generally, patches release L-arginine over the course of 24 hours, can be placed anywhere on the skin of the body and need to be replaced once daily for a steady stream of the amino acid into the bloodstream.
• L-arginine in Food: L-arginine occurs naturally in a wide range of foods. Men and women who want to increase their consumption of L-arginine without spending extra money on supplements or visiting their doctor might be able to get many of the sexual benefits from eating more foods that contain L-arginine. Foods that contain large amounts of L-arginine include pork, chicken, seafood, eggs, lentils, dark chocolate and nuts. Including these foods in a regular diet can be a healthy way to eat as well as a savvy way to naturally boost L-arginine levels in the body.
• L-arginine Powders: Finally, some individuals prefer to take their L-arginine in powder form. This looks similar to a protein powder, and it is sold in the same large tubs. It can be mixed with water, milk or any other liquid to create a tasty milkshake or smoothie. L-arginine powders are often consumed by athletes who believe that it will enhance their performance, strength or training potential, but it can also be an effective treatment method for anyone with erectile dysfunction. These powders come in varying strengths as well as flavors so that buyers can find the right type for their palate and their dosage needs.
L-arginine can be an effective way to reduce or even eliminate physical erectile dysfunction, but taking too much of it through supplements is a concern. Anyone who relies exclusively on food for their L-arginine will have a hard time consuming too much, but concentrated forms like pills, creams and powders can add up quickly. For erectile dysfunction, it is recommended that men take roughly 5 grams of L-arginine each day. More than this can increase the risks and side effects, but less than 5 grams may not be effective when it comes to eliminating erectile dysfunction.
It is not necessary to visit a doctor or get a prescription in order to take L-arginine. However, anyone with a medical condition or who is on prescription medication may want to speak with a medical professional to ensure that supplements won’t be a problem when mixed with existing prescriptions. Powders, creams, pills and patches are available at many health stores, pharmacies and online retailers.
Treating erectile dysfunction is not one-size-fits-all. Men deal with erectile dysfunction for a number of unique reasons, and their treatment should be just as personalized. One of the most commonly available, natural and effective means of reducing or even eliminating erectile dysfunction is L-arginine, an amino acid found in supplements as well as in many popular foods.