The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    L-arginine and exercise performance

    In 2004, a study in patients with chronic stable congestive heart failure (CHF) showed that supplementation with l-arginine taken by mouth prolongs exercise duration. It was thought this might be due to nitric oxide-induced dilation of blood vessels in peripheral areas of the body.

    L-arginine is a dietary supplement that may improve the physical fitness of people with CHF. Under normal conditions, l-arginine is metabolized to nitric oxide, which helps blood vessels dilate and supply more oxygen-carrying blood to tissues. Dysfunction of the “l-arginine-nitric oxide” pathway in CHF leads to lower blood flow that partly accounts for the limited ability of these patients to exert themselves.

    Now, a study published last month supports these findings. Patients with CHF who took l-arginine supplementation by mouth for 6 weeks showed the following improvements during exercise compared with CHF patients who did not.

    • Average heart rate decreased during exercise and during recovery
    • Blood pressure and respiratory parameters stayed constant
    • Peak increase in plasma lactate was blunted (ie, more efficient energy metabolism)

    These findings support ongoing l-arginine supplementation to improve patients’ physical fitness. Patients most likely to respond to l-arginine supplementation have elevated blood levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine, which acts opposite to l-arginine to inhibit nitric oxide formation.

    8/2/06 21:45 JR

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