April 17, 2024


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The Use of Glutamine In Maintaining Natural Health

This article discusses the role of glutamine in healing the stomach and intestines, fighting cancer, improving muscle mass and strengthening the immune system.

What is Glutamine?

  • The most prominent and widely used amino acid found in the body.
  • The primary source of energy for the whole immune system.
  • The main food for cells that line and protect the entire digestive tract.
  • A critical fuel used by the muscles for function and repair.
  • An important amino acid used by the liver to detox poisons from the bloodstream.
  • One of the chief components of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) manufacture, normal cell division and normal cell function.
  • One of the main components of all wound healing and tissue repair.
  • Is involved in overall brain function, mood management, and higher cognitive function.

The role of glutamine in the human body can only be described as life sustaining. All of the known amino acids form the protein building blocks for which life could survive without, but none of the other amino acids offer such diversified benefit to the body as glutamine.

Below you will find a summary of the areas of the body that utilize the most glutamine:

Immune System

  • Without glutamine there is no production of immune cells. This was discovered in the 1950’s when scientists tried to grow any of the immune cells in a petri dish in the absence of glutamine. No glutamine, no growth of immune cells. This was the first time researchers began to realize just how critical glutamine was to the immune system.
  • Research has proven that individuals suffering from overactive and “self attacking” autoimmune disorders (multiple sclerosis, SLE, Lou Gerhrig’s Disease) produce too much cytokine chemicals, which are used to track down and poison invaders. Too much cytokines attack and destroy good tissue creating pain and inflammation. Autoimmune disease patients consequently have chronically low levels of glutamine in their blood due this over active production. When glutamine is given to them, their symptoms subside because glutamine is a chief component of liver produced glutathione, which balances cytokine production. (You cannot get glutathione in a pill form… you can only supply the building blocks, i.e. glutamine, or alpha Lipoic acid.)

Digestive System

  • The cells (enterocytes) that make up the digestive organs and tissues use glutamine as fuel to repair damaged tissue and grow new tissue. Glucose (sugar) is not the primary fuel and actually causes tissues to die. This is has been proven in the laboratory.
  • Glutamine profoundly protects and repairs the digestive tract, especially the intestines during chemo and radiation treatments. This is critical because the muscle wasting syndrome and leaky gut that so many cancer patients endure grossly affects their survival rates.
  • Glutamine has been proven to heal stomach ulcers and prevent drug induced gastritis from arthritis and pain medications.
  • Glutamine has been proven to be especially important to people who have Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Since AIDS directly affects the intestines where immunity begins, glutamine is very useful is preventing diarrhea and the premature “washing out” of vital nutrients from food before they can properly absorbed.

    Brain Function:

    • Since glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, it stands to reason that it is the most abundant amino acid in cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord). There are two important neurotransmitters, glutamic acid (the one that excites nerves to transmit impulses) and gamma butyric acid, or GABA, which is the one that calms down, or inhibits nerve impulses that is made from glutamine. Without glutamine there would be no nervous system, which says it all.
    • Glutamine was found to inhibit the addiction to alcohol. There was a mark reduction in the desire to drink when glutamine was consumed at a rate of 1 gram daily in 2 divided doses on an empty stomach with 50 mg. of B-6.
    • Glutamine improved brain function in patients exhibiting depression and memory loss after experiencing strokes.
    • Low levels of glutamine were found in depressed patients during a large study on the causes of depression. 85% of patients reported brighter moods and better appetites during the study. One glutamine supplementation was ceased, symptoms returned.
    • In children with verified low IQ levels, glutamine improved their capacity to grasp information and assimilate and retain factual data.

    There is much, much more I could write about the benefits of glutamine. If you are about to go into surgery discuss glutamine supplementation (in your fluids bag) with your doctor to ward off postoperative infections and speed healing. At this writing, this may already been standard practice as it began years ago at Harvard Medical Center. If you are undergoing chemo or radiation for cancer, discuss glutamine with your doctor prior to using it. Again, the Harvard Medical Center and University has the best collection of scientific data on the benefits of glutamine during cancer treatment (especially tumor regression) and postoperative recovery.