Arginine therapy has proven to be effective at treating the pain related to sickle cell disease with the results of a recent study. The study was performed on children with sickle cell disease and compared the effects of arginine to a placebo.
Sickle cell disease results in the production of abnormal hemoglobin which distorts red blood cells into the characteristic sickle shape. This abnormal shape blocks the flow of blood in small blood vessels and can lead to pain, blood flow problems, and organ damage.
Arginine is a naturally occurring amino found in many foods that can be purchased in supplement form. When taken in supplement form it has shown to improve blood flow in the body by increasing the body’s available level of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide expands the blood vessels to allow blood to flow with less resistance.
With this known benefit, scientists hypothesized that sickle cell patients would benefit from taking arginine supplements. Their assumption proved right, as the children who took arginine supplements reported a 54 percent lower usage of pain medication than those who took the placebo and experienced fewer pain symptoms during the trial.
Sickle cell pain is primarily caused by the blockages that occur in the blood vessels, and arginine is through to reduce that pain by expanding the blood vessels and reducing the chance of a blockage from occurring. It may be used much more often for treating sickle cell disease in the future if it continues to show a positive impact in future sickle cell treatment studies.
Arginine has already proven to be effective at helping to treat many other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes complications, and more. It may benefit patients with sickle cell disease in other ways that have yet to be discovered, possibly reducing organ damage or reducing complications.
The positive results of the study give researchers a new direction for the treatment of sickle cell disease. The study noted that more studies would need to be performed in order to understand the exact mechanism and benefits of taking arginine. They also noted that arginine was entirely safe to take as a supplement without any side effects of its own.