Arginine and Diabetes

Q I have been recommending your arginine formulations to my nondiabetic patients. Your labels state that arginine is contraindicated for diabetics. Why is that so? It appears that there is much evidence supporting its use for diabetes.

MICHAEL, Las Vegas

A Arginine can have a wide variety of beneficial effects for diabetics.1-10 In large enough amounts, however, it can stimulate the release of growth hormone, and growth hormone can increase the level of a protein called insulinlike growth factor-I (IGF-I), which could interfere with insulin’s efficacy in the body. For those with diabetes or insulin resistance, therefore, I recommend working with a qualified physician when using arginine.


  1. Lucotti P, Setola E, Monti LD, Galluccio E, Costa S, Sandoli EP, Fermo I, Rabaiotti G, Gatti R, Piatti P. Beneficial effects of a long-term oral L-arginine treatment added to a hypocaloric diet and exercise training program in obese, insulin-resistant type 2 diabetic patients. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2006;291(5):E906-12.
  2. Regensteiner JG, Popylisen S, Bauer TA, Lindenfeld J, Gill E, Smith S, Oliver-Pickett CK, Reusch JE, Weil JV. Oral L-arginine and vitamins E and C improve endothelial function in women with type 2 diabetes. Vasc Med 2003;8(3):169-75.
  3. Kawano T, Nomura M, Nisikado A, Nakaya Y, Ito S. Supplementation of L-arginine improves hypertension and lipid metabolism but not insulin resistance in diabetic rats. Life Sci 2003;73(23):3017-26.
  4. Huynh NT, Tayek JA. Oral arginine reduces systemic blood pressure in type 2 diabetes: its potential role in nitric oxide generation. J Am Coll Nutr 2002;21(5):422-7.
  5. Piatti PM, Monti LD, Valsecchi G, Magni F, Setola E, Marchesi F, Galli-Kienle M, Pozza G, Alberti KG. Long-term oral L-arginine administration improves peripheral and hepatic insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 2001;24(5):875-80.
  6. Yildirim S, Ayan S, Sarioglu Y, Gultekin Y, Butuner C. The effects of long-term oral administration of L-arginine on the erectile response of rabbits with alloxan-induced diabetes. BJU Int 1999;83(6):679-85.
  7. Rakotoambinina B, Timsit J, Deschamps I, Laborde K, Gautier D, Jos J, Boitard C, Robert JJ. Insulin responses to intravenous glucose, intravenous arginine, and a hyperglycaemic clamp in ICA-positive subjects with different degrees of glucose tolerance. Diabetes Metab 1997;23(1):43-50.
  8. Pieper GM, Siebeneich W, Dondlinger LA. Short-term oral administration of L-arginine reverses defective endothelium-dependent relaxation and cGMP generation in diabetes. Eur J Pharmacol 1996;317(2-3):317-20.
  9. Sanders PW. L-Arginine and arginine analogs in progressive renal failure. Blood Purif 1995;13(3-4):219-27.
  10. Hayde M, Vierhapper H, Lubec B, Popow C, Weninger M, Xi Z, Lubec G. Low-dose dietary L-arginine increases plasma interleukin 1α but not interleukin 1β in patients with diabetes mellitus. Cytokine 1994;6(1):79-82.

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