L-lysine is an ‘essential amino acid’ — that is, it is needed by the human body but not made there, and must be obtained from
food or supplements. A male adult typically requires about 37 mg of L-lysine per day per kilogram of bodyweight — about 2.7 grams/day for someone weighing 73 kg (160 lbs). This is the amount needed to avoid lysine-deficiency ailments
in a healthy person. More ambitious goals — beyond the mere avoidance of overt deficiencies — may require larger amounts than
What we can’t tell you
In the U.S. and some other industrialized countries, government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
have adopted censorship as a method for intensifying their control over the supplement industry and its customers.
Thus, FDA regulations prohibit us from telling you that any of our products are effective as medical treatments,
even if they are, in fact, effective.
Accordingly, we will limit our discussion of L-Lysine to a brief summary of relevant research,
and let you draw your own conclusions about what medical conditions it may be effective in treating.
L-lysine’s popularity as a nutritional supplement stems from studies suggesting that this amino acid decreases the recurrence
rate of people infected with
There is also published research suggesting that it is active against
- anxiety and
- insulin deficiency,
and that it is useful in
- increasing growth hormone levels and
- increasing muscle strength.
Let’s now examine the evidence for each of these effects.
Several clinical trials conducted in the 1980s showed that lysine supplementation at about 1000 mg three times per day reduced
the frequency of herpes outbreaks and decreased the severity of symptoms associated with recurrences. Lower doses, down to
about 1000 mg once per day, showed a lesser but measurable benefit.
Other studies have shown that the herpes virus responds differently to different concentrations of the amino acids lysine
and arginine. When the ratio of L-lysine to L-arginine is high, viral replication and the cytopathogenicity of herpes simplex
virus have been found to be inhibited. This implies that to inhibit the herpes virus, arginine levels should be kept low.
Growth hormone (GH) and muscle strength
Dual amino-acid supplementation with L-lysine and L-arginine increases growth hormone levels without the need for large doses
of either supplement. Studies using 1200-1500 mg of each supplement showed that significant increases in GH levels take place
in the blood from 30 to 90 minutes after consumption. It appears that the best time to take arginine+lysine is when one is resting — not when one is about to exercise. Exercise
itself causes growth hormone levels to rise, and the supplements do not push GH levels much higher than this. The implication of this evidence is that, with respect to GH levels, the supplement combination simulates the effects of
exercise during non-exercise periods.
A clinical trial in which elderly women were given a daily supplement consisting of 1.5 g lysine + 5 g arginine + 2 g beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate
(HMB) showed “a 17% improvement in the ‘get-up-and-go’ functionality test … increased limb circumference, leg strength, handgrip
strength, and positive trends in fat-free mass.” The HMB part of the combination is thought to slow the breakdown of muscle protein — the lysine-arginine part is the muscle-growth component which is not dependent on HMB for its effects.
Osteoporosis and bone fractures
A therapeutic role of amino acids L-lysine (Lys) and L-arginine (Arg) in osteoporosis and fracture healing has been demonstrated
both by cell culture studies and studies in lab animals. A clinical trial conducted in 1994 demonstrated “a more marked increment in BMD [bone mass density] in subjects treated with
arginine-lysine-lactose, a greater reduction in painful symptoms ...” than in subjects treated with a lactose placebo.
Despite these promising results of more than ten years ago, no further clinical trials have been conducted — neither by drug
companies, nor through government funding — to develop Lysine/Arginine treatments for bone fractures or osteoporosis. The
reasons are not hard to guess: Big Pharma is interested in developing blockbuster new drugs, not unpatentable supplements;
and government medical research establishments are run by doctor-bureaucrats who oppose therapies that are available to patients
without their having to visit doctors and ‘cross their palms with silver’ to get a prescription. But in the USA, thanks to
the nutritional supplement act passed by Congress in 1994, people with bone fractures or osteoporosis can buy both L-lysine
and L-arginine any time they want to. These are safe amino acid supplements that are far less expensive than prescription
drugs, and require no time-consuming, wranglesome visits to over-priced physicians.
Insulin and hyperglycemia
Preliminary studies indicate that lysine consumption correlates with insulin responses — higher lysine consumption during
a meal appears to stimulate insulin release. This work suggests that lysine supplementation at mealtime may improve the utilization of dietary sugars and fats, and discourage
tissue-damaging episodes of hyperglycemia.
A recent study of 29 subjects with “relatively high trait anxiety” showed that dual supplementation with L-lysine and L-arginine
(3 g each/day) caused a normalization of hormonal responses during psychosocial stress — i.e., the pattern of stress-related
hormones that high-anxiety people experience during stressful experiencies (such as public speaking) was modified by the supplements
so that it resembled that experienced by low-anxiety people.
Are L-Lysine supplements useful for the conditions and purposes mentioned above?
We aren’t allowed to tell you, so you should take a look at some of the references cited here,
and then decide for yourself.