Ornithine Benefits and Uses

Ornithine is a nonprotein amino acid. It is used in the body in the biosynthesis of L-arginine, L-proline, and polyamines. Ornithine is used as a nutritional supplement principally for its putative anabolic activity. A derivative of ornithine called ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate or OKG may under certain conditions have immunomodulatory and anticatabolic and/or anabolic actions.

It has been suggested by some in the medical research industry that ornithine, along with arginine, may help to enhance muscle-building ability in the body by increasing levels of anabolic hormones such as insulin and growth hormone, but to date these claims have not been supported by human studies. In clinical studies on people hospitalized for surgery, generalized infections, cancer, trauma, or burns, supplementation with ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG) has been reported to produce several beneficial effects including increased ability to heal, improvement in appetite, weight gain, and quality of life compared with those who did not supplement with OKG.

Preliminary trials using ornithine aspartate, another derivative of ornithine, has shown to help people with brain abnormalities (hepatic encephalopathy) due to liver cirrhosis. Those taking the ornithine had significant improvements in liver function and blood tests compared with those who did not take ornithine.

Other studies also indicate that ornithine can help those who have suffered from severe burns. In a clinical trial, burn patients who took 10-30 grams of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate per day experienced an improved healing and shorter hospital stays.

Dosage Recommendations

For those who supplement with ornithine, 5-10 grams is a typical daily dosage (sometime combined with arginine). However, most healthy people do not need to take ornithine supplements.