L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is both produced naturally by the body and found in common foods like red meat, dairy, and eggs. Researchers are primarily interested in L-Arginine because the body processes it into nitric oxide (NO). This compound dilates blood vessels, improving blood flow and clearing out inflammation. It’s often recommended as a supplement for heart and cardiovascular health.
Inflammation is like the body’s first-responder team. When there is pain or an injury, these molecules rush to the site to stop the bleeding and promote healing. A common example is a sprained ankle - it immediately swells up, and the inflammation slowly drops as the injury heals.However, chronic pelvic pain is different. Since the nerves continue to report pain, the body responds by rushing inflammatory molecules to the site. Eventually, the area starts to get overrun with inflammation. Many of our patients experience this as tight or tender fascia on the abdomen, inner thighs, and throughout the pelvic girdle.
Inflammation is the body's first responder to pain or injury
At PelvicSanity, we’ve termed this the ‘DIP cycle’, for dysfunction-inflammation-pain. There is a feedback loop, where the pelvic area doesn’t function properly and inflammation becomes trapped, resulting in additional pain and restarting the cycle. Healing from chronic pelvic pain requires breaking the cycle at every possible point.
That’s where L-Arginine may come in. Studies have shown that 1,500 mg per day decreased pelvic pain symptoms by 48% in interstitial cystitis patients, as opposed to only 24% for a placebo. In total, 29% of patients reported significant clinical improvement with just the supplement. As a comparison, this supplement was shown to be as effective as the only FDA—approve prescription drug specifically for interstitial cystitis (Pentosan Polysulfate, PPS, Elmiron(R)), which showed nearly identical benefits of 28% and 32% in clinical studies.
Our Pelvic Health Supplement Bundle contains 1,500 mg of L-Arginine daily, along with Omega-3 Fish Oil and Quercetin with Bromelain. All of these supplements have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, and may help decrease the inflammation that accompanies and causes additional pelvic pain.
Dr. Nicole Cozean is the founder of PelvicSanity physical therapy, Orange County's premier pelvic floor physical therapy clinic. One of only 270 PTs to be board-certified in the pelvic floor, and the first PT to serve on the ICA Board of Directors, Nicole is the author of the acclaimed and best-selling book The Interstitial Cystitis Solution (2016). She is an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Chapman University. The PelvicSanity blog focuses on presenting practical, positive information to help patients beyond the walls of Nicole's clinic.