Transdermal L-Arginine

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Transdermal L-Arginine Improves Circulation and Temperature in Diabetic Feet

Impaired circulation is a major cause of diabetes-related complications as cold, painful feet and foot ulcers. Restoration of blood flow in the feet of people with diabetes may prevent ulcers and amputations. Patients with diabetes have abnormally low levels of L-arginine, an amino acid that is classified as a dietary supplement, and is the biochemical precursor of nitric oxide, which increases local blood flow by relaxing smooth muscle in the blood vessels.

   Medications are commonly applied topically for absorption across the skin, i.e. “transdermal”. To determine if transdermal administration of L-arginine would improve circulation and temperature of the feet of diabetic patients, 16 adults with diabetes and impaired foot circulation were enrolled and 13 completed a double-blind study. A cream containing L-arginine in a proprietary transdermal cream base or a placebo cream was applied to the feet twice daily for two weeks. In feet which received an application of L-arginine cream, average blood flow increased 33% at the metatarsus (portion of the foot between the instep and the toes), and 35% at the Achilles tendon, and average temperature increased 5 degrees Fahrenheit at the metatarsus and 8 degrees Fahrenheit at the great toe.

   Additional research is needed to determine if L-arginine cream has any clinical benefit in preventing or reducing amputations or other foot complications.

Diabetes Care . January 2004; 27(1):284-5

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