Healing with Glutamine
By Aidanne MacDonald-Milewski, ND • July 31, 2020
Our body requires amino acids that make up proteins in order to replicate our DNA, repair cellular damage, support tissue and muscle growth, etc. Generally speaking, amino acids are known as the “building blocks of life” that help the body grow, repair and carry out daily enzymatic functions. One of the most prevalent amino acids produced within the body is known as glutamine.
Glutamine is actually synthesized in the body and exerts its effects on the GI tract, immune system, and nervous system. It can become depleted due to prolonged exposure to physical stress, exposure to food sensitivities, etc.1
How Glutamine Heals the Gut:
With regards to the GI tract, glutamine is a key nutrient that fuels cells of the intestines and colon. Between cells of the GI tract rest tight junctions, which help to ensure proper digestion of food through the digestive tract. Glutamine serves to strengthen the integrity of those tight junctions.2,3
Additionally, it helps to sustain the mucus lining of GI cells, thereby reducing permeability of the gut lining. When the gut lining is permeable, food molecules are allowed to pass between the cells and into the blood stream, rather than being digested properly. In response, the body mounts an immune response to foods which ultimately increases inflammation in the body over time.2,3
This process is often seen in a condition known as “leaky gut”, but can also be seen in cases of IBS, IBD, GERD, diarrhea, constipation, and mucositis. Glutamine is often included as part of a gut healing protocol in these cases.
Be sure to talk to your Naturopathic doctor to see if glutamine would be a good fit for you!
Immune Benefits of Glutamine:
One way that Glutamine supports the immune system is by ensuring the integrity of the GI tract, as this is one of the core sources of immune cells in our bodies. Additionally, Glutamine has been shown to be beneficial in promoting development and proliferation of white blood cells and macrophages, which help to develop antibodies and fight infections. Glutamine also helps promote new collagen formation when used for wound healing.1,4
Nerve Protection and Relief:
Small studies have shown that Glutamine has a neuroprotective effect when given in conjunction with conventional chemotherapy treatments, and may be useful in preventing the development of treatment induced neuropathy.5
If you are interested in learning more about glutamine and if it’s right for you, please contact your Naturopathic Doctor for more information!
1.) Glutamine. Natural Medicines Database. Updated May 1, 2020.
2.) Rao R, Samak G. Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions. J Epithel Biol Pharmacol. 2012;5(Suppl 1-M7):47-54. doi:10.2174/1875044301205010047
3.) Bischoff SC, Barbara G, Buurman W, et al. Intestinal permeability–a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14:189. Published 2014 Nov 18. doi:10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7
4.) Cruzat V, Macedo Rogero M, Noel Keane K, Curi R, Newsholme P. Glutamine: Metabolism and Immune Function, Supplementation and Clinical Translation. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1564. Published 2018 Oct 23. doi:10.3390/nu10111564
5.) Gaurav K, Goel RK, Shukla M, Pandey M. Glutamine: A novel approach to chemotherapy-induced toxicity. Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol. 2012;33(1):13-20. doi:10.4103/0971-5851.96962
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.