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What is Arginine Hydrochloride?

By Ann Olson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Arginine hydrochloride is a form of L-arginine, an amino acid that is naturally produced by the body. Arginine hydrochloride often is used in dietary supplements, and it can be helpful for people with high blood pressure. It also is easily absorbed by the stomach, which allows it to work quickly.

For most people, consuming arginine hydrochloride is not necessary because the body already produces enough of this amino acid. People who do not eat a balanced diet may not produce enough arginine, however, making supplementation necessary. Supplementation may also be used for people who have high blood pressure, as studies show that arginine can help lower it.

Many animal and vegetarian food sources contain L-arginine. Some doctors may recommend eating an arginine-rich diet in addition to or as a replacement for supplementation. Dairy products, such as cottage cheese, milk and yogurt, are good sources of arginine. It is also found in abundant amounts in beef, bacon, shrimp, tuna, salmon chicken and turkey. Vegetarian sources include oatmeal, most nuts, some seeds and chickpeas.

Arginine hydrochloride plays an important role in many natural processes inside the body. Its most significant function is its ability to speed wound healing, such as skin abrasions, burns or direct muscle damage. Injured athletes may take L-arginine supplements to recover faster; supplements also are commonly used by bodybuilders to help repair muscle tissue after a workout.

The creation of urea also is aided by L-arginine; urea is a substance excreted by the kidneys and removed from the body as urine. People with certain kidney problems cannot excrete enough urea. Used regularly, this supplement can help the kidney excrete more urea, which can mitigate some of the side effects caused by kidney damage or dysfunction.

Although scientific data is limited, some doctors also believe it can improve some heart conditions because it helps prevent the arteries from narrowing. Arterial narrowing can make it harder for blood to flow, increasing pressure and eventually causing high blood pressure, chest pain or increasing the risk for blood clots. Although L-arginine isn't commonly recommended to treat these conditions, some alternative health practitioners may recommend it, despite some of its side effects.

Arginine hydrochloride most commonly causes gastrointestinal upset, which can cause diarrhea or loose stools. It can also inflame the lungs, which can make it harder to breathe, making it unsafe for people with breathing problems. Its most concerning side effect is its ability to significantly decrease blood pressure, however. Although this is usually seen as a benefit, it can be dangerous for people who already have low blood pressure.

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