Reviewed on 8/5/2022

What Is Arginine and How Does It Work?

Arginine is a chemical building block called "an amino acid." It is obtained from the diet and is necessary for the body to make proteins. Arginine is found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. It can also be made in a laboratory and used as medicine.

Some people use arginine for preventing the common cold, improving kidney function after a kidney transplant, high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), improving athletic performance, boosting the immune system, and prevent inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants.

Arginine is used in combination with a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications for various conditions. For example,

  • arginine is used along with ibuprofen for migraine headaches;
  • with conventional chemotherapy drugs for treating breast cancer;
  • with other amino acids for treating weight loss in people with AIDS; and
  • with fish oil and other supplements for reducing infections, improving wound healing, and shortening recovery time after surgery.

Some people apply arginine to the skin to speed wound healing and for increasing blood flow to cold hands and feet, especially in people with diabetes. It is also used as a cream for sexual problems in both men and women.

  • Arginine is available under the following different brand names: L-arginine, and RGene-10.

What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Arginine?

Side effects of arginine include:

  • headache
  • flushing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • numbness
  • local venous irritation
  • flat, red rash with small bumps
  • swelling of hands and feet
  • blood in the urine
  • high blood potassium level
  • skin burn/necrosis
  • loss of consciousness
  • facial numbness or tingling
  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • gout
  • blood abnormalities
  • allergies
  • airway inflammation
  • worsening of asthma
  • low blood pressure

Seek medical care or call 911 at once if you have the following serious side effects:

  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, very stiff muscles, high fever, profuse sweating, or tremors;
  • Serious eye symptoms such as sudden vision loss, blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
  • Serious heart symptoms include fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeats; fluttering in the chest; shortness of breath; sudden dizziness, lightheartedness, or passing out.

This document does not contain all possible side effects and others may occur. Check with your physician for additional information about side effects.


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Dosages of Arginine

Adult and pediatric dosages:

Intravenous solution

  • 30 g/300 ml

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows:

Pituitary Stimulation

Used as a diagnostic pituitary stimulant to measure human growth hormone (hGH) reserve for conditions such as panhypopituitarism, pituitary dwarfism, chromophobe adenoma, postsurgical craniopharyngioma, hypophysectomy, pituitary trauma, acromegaly, gigantism, and problems of growth and stature.

  • Adult dosage: 300 mL (30 g) intravenously infused over 30 minutes
  • Pediatric dosage: 0.5 g/kg intravenously infused over 30 minutes; not to exceed 30 g/dose

Test procedure

  • Schedule AM
  • Fast overnight and continue through the test period
  • Place patient on bed rest for at least 30 minutes before infusion begins
  • Take sample draws at -30, 0, 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 minutes
  • To confirm a negative response to the insulin hypoglycemia test allow 1 day waiting period after the insulin test patients may not respond during the first test, so the second test may be performed after 1 day waiting period

Pediatric Dosage

Acceptable safe arginine intake:

  • Children 1-3 years: 3 mg/day
  • Children 3-8 years: 6 mg/day
  • Children 8-12 years: 11 mg/day
  • Children 13-18 years: 17 mg/day

What Other Drugs Interact with Arginine?

If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions, concerns or for more information about this medicine.


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What Are Warnings and Precautions for Arginine?


  • This medication contains arginine. Do not take L-arginine or RGene-10 if you are allergic to arginine or any ingredients contained in this drug
  • In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately


  • Hypersensitivity to product or components.

Effects of Drug Abuse

  • No information available

Short-Term Effects

  • See "What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Arginine?"

Long-Term Effects

  • See "What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Arginine?"


Pregnancy and Lactation

  • Use of arginine during pregnancy may be acceptable
  • Either animal studies show no risk but human studies are not available or animal studies showed minor risks and human studies were done and showed no risk
  • Arginine enters breast milk. Use caution if breastfeeding
Medscape. Arginine.
RxList. Arginine.

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