Ornithine Ketoglutarate

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

ACO, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de L-Ornithine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate de L(+)-ornithine, Alpha-Cétoglutarate d'Ornithine, Cétoglutarate d'Ornithine, L-Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, L(+)-ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, OKG, Ornicetil, Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate, Ornitina Cetoglutarato.


Ornithine ketoglutarate is an amino acid. The body uses amino acids to build proteins. Ornithine ketoglutarate can be made by the body or in a laboratory. People use it as a medicine.

Ornithine ketoglutarate is taken by mouth for enhancing athletic performance and for healing wounds in burn patients.

Ornithine ketoglutarate is sometimes included in nutritional formulas that healthcare providers give as an injection into the veins (intravenously, by IV). Ornithine ketoglutarate is added to the formulas to prevent abnormally slow growth in children who are receiving long-term intravenous feeding.

Ornithine ketoglutarate is also given by IV for helping the body make muscle protein after surgery or stroke; and for treating brain change caused by liver disease.

Don't confuse ornithine ketoglutarate with ornithine.

How does it work?

Ornithine ketoglutarate might change the way amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are used in the body. It also increases insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Burns. Taking ornithine ketoglutarate by mouth might improve wound healing in people with burns.
  • Wound healing. Taking ornithine ketoglutarate before plastic surgery or after surgery for throat cancer improves healing time and reduces complications such as the number of infections.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Athletic performance. Taking ornithine ketoglutarate does not seem to improve athletic performance.

Likely Ineffective for...

  • Worsening of mental function caused by liver disease. Giving ornithine ketoglutarate intravenously (by IV) does not help treat mental changes caused by liver disease. In fact, it may make this condition worse.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Early research suggests that giving ornithine ketoglutarate intravenously (by IV) before and during chemotherapy can reduce the severity of nausea and vomiting similarly to the drug metoclopramide.
  • Abnormally slow growth. Some early research suggests that ornithine ketoglutarate helps prevent abnormally slow growth when added to long-term nutrition that is given intravenously (by IV) to children. However, other research suggests that taking ornithine ketoglutarate for one year does not improve growth in short-statured children.
  • HIV/AIDS. Early research suggests that taking ornithine ketoglutarate by mouth for 12 weeks does not improve immune function, strength, or body weight in people with HIV.
  • Pressure ulcers. Taking ornithine ketoglutarate by mouth for 6 weeks seems to improve healing in older people with heel pressure ulcers that are no larger than 8 cm2 at the start of treatment. However, it does not seem to improve healing in people with larger heel pressure ulcers.
  • Stroke. Early research suggests that giving ornithine ketoglutarate intravenously (by IV) for 5 days to people who have had a stroke might improve their ability to respond to stimuli. However, this improvement does not appear to continue once treatment with ornithine ketoglutarate is stopped.
  • Muscle regrowth after surgery. Early research suggests that ornithine ketoglutarate might improve the regrowth of certain muscles after surgery.
  • Complications of surgery or long-term feeding by vein and other conditions.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of ornithine ketoglutarate for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Ornithine ketoglutarate is POSSIBLY SAFE when given intravenously or when taken by mouth with appropriate medical supervision.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of ornithine ketoglutarate during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Worsening of mental function caused by liver disease: Taking ornithine ketoglutarate might make this condition worse.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For the healing of burn wounds: 30 grams of ornithine ketoglutarate daily.

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