Health Benefits Of Arginine

Health Benefits Of Arginine
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com

Arginine is a semiessential amino acid whose indispensability sets in when critical illness and severe trauma occur; adults can produce this amino acid through the biosynthetic pathway, although its consumption from diet is still imperative to sustain satisfactory physiological levels our bodily functions require, especially in preterm infants who are incapable of natural arginine synthesis and in critically ill individuals with poor nutritional status and certain physical conditions. Similar to any amino acid, arginine is involved with protein synthesis and also increases growth hormone secretion, hence regulating immune function. Furthermore, arginine serves as the precursor of creatine, which in turn is used by the body for the growth and energy metabolism of muscles, nerve, and testes. [1] Arginine is a precursor as well for the synthesis of glutamate, polyamines, creatine, agmatine, proline and urea.

In general, a healthy person can easily replenish one’s own arginine supply, but once metabolic needs increase due to sickness and exceed more than what our arginine-producing mechanism can meet, extra amounts from diet and supplements can remedy the demand. Very good sources of arginine include turkey, pork, chicken, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, nuts (including peanuts) and egg white. [2]

Arginine and the Production of Nitric Oxide

There are many reasons why arginine is unanimously considered physiologically important in our bodies since this amino acid participates in numerous metabolic processes, but the foremost perhaps would be its role as the precursor (“building block”) for the body’s creation of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide serves as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, particularly in the brain, as a mediator of host defense in the immune system, and as a vasodilator and endogenous antiatherogenic molecule in the cardiovascular system. Nitric oxide is the chief form of the endothelium-derived relaxing factor as well. Böger (2007) notes that an intake of reasonably large doses of L-arginine either through our diets or intravenously leads to enhanced nitric oxide production in individuals exhibiting impaired endothelial function at baseline and to improved cardiovascular disease symptoms, as demonstrated in a number of controlled clinical trials. [3] Studies have demonstrated that systemic or oral intake of arginine enhances cardiovascular function, reduces blood pressure and decreases myocardial ischemia among patients with coronary artery disease. It also reduces renal vascular resistance in patients with high blood pressure and normal or insufficient kidney function. [1]

Arginine, Hormones, and Exercise

A number of recent studies have demonstrated that L-arginine, orally administered, at a tolerated dose range of 5-9 g, potently stimulates a dose-dependent increase in resting growth hormone responses. Notably, at least 100% of resting growth hormone levels is achieved upon oral arginine intake. [4] Furthermore, McConell (2007) reported that administration of L-arginine improves endothelial function in a range of disease states and elevates the levels of hormones such as plasma insulin, catecholamines, growth hormone, glucagon and prolactin. These in turn influence metabolism. Research evidence also points to L-arginine boosting the positive effects of exercise on capillary growth in muscles and insulin sensitivity. [5]

To date, a considerably good amount of data supports the claim that arginine can be regarded as an effective ergogenic aid or performance enhancer. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Camic et al. (2010), for instance, randomized fifty college-aged men into three groups, namely, those on placebo, on 1.5 g arginine, and on 3.0 g arginine treatment, to determine the effect of daily 4-week oral administration of arginine-based supplements on the physical working capacity at the fatigue threshold (PWCFT), which measures the ability of an individual to resist fatigue and hence his or her functional capacity. Results revealed significant mean increases in PWCFT among subjects on L-arginine supplementation but no change for the placebo group. [6]

Arginine and Wound Healing

Because arginine plays a role in protein synthesis, in cell signaling via nitric oxide production and in cell proliferation, its participation in wound healing comes as a no surprise. In fact, several studies have concluded that arginine supplementation can lead to normalization or improvement of wound healing, making supplementation with arginine either on its own or in combination with other amino acids a very reasonably attractive treatment option in the management and care of critically ill or traumatized patients. [7] In artificial incisional wounds in rodents and humans, arginine boosts wound strength and collagen deposition, but as of today, concrete data from robust clinical trials / human studies are still limited as regards the recommended safe dose of arginine to fulfill the metabolic necessities during wound healing and the efficacy of arginine supplementation in improving recovery from acute and chronic wounds. [8]

Arginine and Aging

The potential anti-aging benefits of arginine come from the various health-promoting effects this amino acid renders in the body, including its ability to reduct risk of heart and vascular disease, supporting healthy erectile function, immune response improvement and suppression of gastric hyperacidity. According to a number of human and experimental animal studies, exogenous L-arginine intake induces several pharmacological effects when administered in doses larger than what can be obtained through normal dietary consumption. [9]

References:

[1] Tapiero H., MathÈ G., Couvreur P., Tew K. D. (2002). I. Arginine. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 56(9): 439-445. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12481980

[2] Arginine(g). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/report/nutrientsfrm?max=25&offset=0&amp…/

[3] Böger R. H. (2007). The pharmacodynamics of L-arginine. Journal of Nutrition. 137(6 Suppl 2): 1650S-1655S. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17513442

[4] Kanaley J. A. (2008). Growth hormone, arginine and exercise. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 11(1): 50-54. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090659

[5] McConell G. K. (2007). Effects of L-arginine supplementation on exercise metabolism. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 10(1): 46-51. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17143054

[6] Camic C. L. et al. (2010). Effects of arginine-based supplements on the physical working capacity at the fatigue threshold. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24(5): 1306-1312. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d68816. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386475

[7] Witte M. B., Barbul A. (2003). Arginine physiology and its implication for wound healing. Wound Repair and Regeneration. 11(6): 419-423. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14617280

[8] Stechmiller J. K., Childress B., Cowan L. (2005). Arginine supplementation and wound healing. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 20(1): 52-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16207646

[9] Gad M. (2010). Anti-aging effects of l-arginine. Journal of Advanced Research. 1(3): 169-177. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090123210000573

How To Make Probiotic Lemonade

How To Make Probiotic Lemonade
Graphic – herbs-info.com Photo © shutterstock.com (under license)

When it comes to flavor and refreshment, nothing beats a cold glass of fresh homemade lemonade. Store-bought brands are often filled with sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. So when it comes to your drink, it’s always better to go natural. Lemons are already packed with vitamin c, antioxidants, and potassium to keep our body healthy… but imagine if we can make an awesome drink even more awesome. [1]

A great way to boost the health benefits you can get from your beverage is to add a dose of probiotics extracted from yogurt. Probiotics are often called “good bacteria” since they have been linked to improvements in mood, digestion, and immunity. [2][3] Best of all, the natural tart taste of lemons makes it a perfect complement to the sour flavor of the whey from yogurt.

Here are the steps to make your own probiotic lemonade at home.

For this recipe you’ll need:

Ingredients
• 12 Organic lemons
• 1 cup of fresh whey from yogurt
• 1/2-1 cup of organic cane sugar (adjust according to taste)

Things you’ll need
• A thin cheesecloth
• Rubber bands
• A gallon jar

1. Extract the whey. We start with the process of extracting whey from store bought whole milk organic yogurt. To do this, simply drape your cheesecloth into a bowl and add the yogurt. Tie it with a rubber band and hang it up to strain the liquid. After a few hours transfer the liquid into a measuring cup and you now have around 1 cup of whey for your drink.

Tips:
You can use the leftover yogurt as an ingredient for dips, spreads, and fillings.
Use the thinnest cheesecloth as possible. A think cheesecloth can absorb the whey rather than strain it from the yogurt.
You can save the whey for other recipes, just make sure to keep it refrigerated.

2. Now it’s time to squeeze the juice out of the lemons. You can use a lemon press or any lemon juicer of your choice.

Tip:
Roll the lemon first on your counter top to maximize the amount juice you’ll get.

3. Mix the whey and lemon juice in a gallon jar. Now add the amount of water and sugar to the taste that you want.

Tip:
It is best to use at least 1/2 cup of sugar so that the probiotic can use it for fermentation. This will make the sweetness a little weak after fermentation.

4. Wait. Once finished mixing. Tightly close the jar and leave it on your kitchen counter at room temperature for 2 days.

5. Enjoy! After 2 days, transfer the mixture to a glass pitcher and you now have a refreshing and healthy probiotic drink your family will enjoy.

References:

[1] Natural bioactive compounds of Citrus limon for food and health. (2017)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19748198 http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)35557-9/pdf

[2] Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28483500

[3] Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. (2017) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/105/3/758

Turmeric Extract Puts Drugs For Knee Osteoarthritis To Shame

Turmeric Extract Puts Drugs For Knee Osteoarthritis To Shame
Infographic – herbs-info.com – photos © eyewave, psdesign1 – fotolia.com

Millions of people take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat their arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. There is a need to increase awareness of available natural remedies that are possibly safer, at least as effective, easily accessible, and inexpensive. For one, despite decades of research and thousands of preclinical studies indicating the therapeutic value of turmeric, not many people are aware that the common kitchen spice can serve as a valuable alternative for a number of health conditions. [1]

Turmeric For Osteoarthritis

A recent human study published in the Indonesian Journal of Internal Medicine clinically confirms the medicinal value of turmeric. Results showed that the turmeric’s curcuminoid extract can reduce inflammation in patients who suffer from knee osteoarthritis. [2]

The study was conducted by randomly dividing patients into two groups. One group was assigned to take 25 mg of diclofenac sodium three times a day for four weeks. The other group was asked to take 30 mg of the turmeric extract (curcumonoid) three times daily for the same period of time. Researchers compared the effectivity of curcuminoid extract to that of the drug diclofenac sodium in reducing the secretion of the inflammatory cycloxygenase-2 enzyme by the synovial fluid’s monocytes. [2]

An egg yolk-like liquid, synovial fluid is found within the synovial joints’ cavities. It reduces friction between the articular cartilages during movement. People who suffer from knee osteoarthritis are known to have increased secretion of the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme in their synovial fluid. [2]

Results of the study show that the turmeric’s curcuminoid extract and the NSAID drug diclofenac sodium are both capable of significantly decreasing the secretion of COX-2 enzymes. The two alternatives displayed nearly identical potency. The exact results were as follows:

In curcuminoid group the average scores were 1.84±0.37 and 1.15±0.28 respectively (p<0.001). In diclofenac group the average scores were 1.79±0.38 and 1.12±0.27 respectively (p<0.001). In curcuminoid group the decreasing score of cycloxygenase-2 secretion was 0.70±0.51 while in diclofenac group was 0.67±0.45. There was no significant difference in decreasing the score of cycloxygenase enzyme secretion between both treatment groups (p=0.89). [3]

A Safer Alternative

The study published in the Indonesian Journal of Internal Medicine is not the first to confirm turmeric’s efficacy. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2010 revealed that 2,000 mg of turmeric extract works as effectively as 800 mg of ibuprofen in treating symptoms of inflammation and pain. There are hundreds more of studies that confirm the COX-2 reducing and anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric. What makes the more recent study stand out is what it reveals about the safety of choosing turmeric over pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs, which have been linked to adverse health effects, including seizure, miscarriage, and mortality. [1]

One way to compare the relative toxicity of turmeric’s curcumin and the NSAID diclofenac sodium is by considering their Material Safety Data Sheets, which reveal detailed information on their toxicity. Results reveal that there are considerably higher chances of experiencing adverse health effects from diclofenac sodium compared to turmeric. Considering that there are 100 adverse health effects linked to the NSAID drug – and 600 beneficial effects linked to turmeric, this is not a hard choice to make in terms of risk-benefit analysis. [1]

References:

[1] GreenMedInfo. Turmeric Extract Puts Drugs For Knee Osteoarthritis To Shame. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/turmeric-extract-puts-drugs-knee-osteoarthritis-shame

[2] Acta Medica Indonesiana – The Indonesian Journal of Internal Medicine. Ability of Curcuminoid Compared to Diclofenac Sodium in Reducing the Secretion of Cycloxygenase-2 Enzyme by Synovial Fluid’s Monocytes of Patients with Osteoarthritis. http://www.inaactamedica.org/archives/2012/22745140.pdf

[3] National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ability of curcuminoid compared to diclofenac sodium in reducing the secretion of cycloxygenase-2 enzyme by synovial fluid’s monocytes of patients with osteoarthritis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22745140