Why I take L-glutamine…………..

by lydia on June 17, 2010

Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occuring, non-essential amino acid in the human body and one of the few amino acids that directly cross the blood-brain barrier. In the body, it is found circulating in the blood as well as stored in the skeletal muscles. It becomes conditionally essential (requiring intake from food or supplements) in states of illness or injury.
In recent studies, glutamine-enriched diets have been linked with intestinal effects including maintenance of gut barrier function and cell differentiation. This may relate to the fact that the intestinal extraction rate of glutamine is higher than that for other amino acids, and is therefore thought to be the most viable option when attempting to alleviate conditions relating to the gastrointestinal tract. These conditions were discovered after comparing plasma concentration within the gut between glutamine-enriched and non-glutamine-enriched diets.’ (source)
If you have been following my blog, especially of late, I have been discussing healthy guts. I have been on my own journey this past year to heal my gut. Including real nourishing foods, ditching processed foods, making homemade mineral-rich soothing bone broths, consuming fermented foods, and removing gluten and grains. Along the way I read through the book, ‘Dangerous Grains; Why gluten cereal grains may be hazardous to your health’, by James Braly, M.D. In it I read some information that confirms what I have already shared, but takes it a little further.
L-glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the blood, brain, and skeletal muscle, is a tasteless, nontoxic, conditionally essential amino acid that appears to be showing promise in the treatment of celiac disease. Research demonstrates that glutamine is the primary fuel for the lining of the small intestine and immune system.
When given in therapeutic doses (9-20 grams a day in divided doses), it also releases growth hormone and increases the production of a powerful, detoxifying, antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. Glutamine also seems to protect the intestinal lining from the destructive action of alcohol, NSAIDS, and aspirin. It has been reported that glutamine is now the most popular anti-ulcer medication in Asia because it heals and helps prevent peptic ulcers. In a recent study in Japan, 92 percent of ulcer patients given 1,600 milligrams of glutamine a day showed complete healing of duodenal and peptic ulcers in four weeks. It is also currently being administered intravenously to patients for receiving major abdominal and bone marrow surgery, therapy for third degree burns, and chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer.
From our perspective, the single most promising benefits of glutamine is that, when inclueded in the diet, it may prevent and reverse villous atrophy, a leaky gut, and the malabsorption of nutrients so commonly seen in celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
We would conjecture that glutamine’s primary value will not be to substitute a gluten-free diet, but to help accelerate healing when initially going off gluten and to lessen intestinal inflammation when gluten is inadvertently or intentionally reintroduced back into the diet.’
This was encouraging to me, because I have felt that my gut healing has been steady but slow. I am happy to have this in my arsenal of supplements to continue to heal my gut from years of gluten addiction, stress and antibiotics on and off. So this is the primary reason I am taking it, to help heal my gut. In her book, ‘Primal Body, Primal Mind’, Nora Gedgaudas also mentions a few helpful tidbits about the use of l-glutamine as well.  First, she basically states that in the case of wanting to take HCL supplementation to help with ulcers, gastritis or a current, acute reflux problem, you should first focus on healing the inflamed gastric and esophageal tissues, and taking l-glutamine would be of great benefit, prior to use of HCL. This was helpful to me, because I was taking HCL and apple cider vinegar with only small noticeable changes. It was good to know that maybe my approach wasn’t the best. Now I did’t have ulcers or extreme gastric issues, but they were significant enough that I was pretty regularly irritated by them.
Knowing that l-glutamine is the primary food for enterocytes (the cells of the small intestine), is helpful too, as the small intestine is where the nutrients get absorbed and if it is in disrepair due to the many factors I have already mentioned, then this is a crucial issue to get resolved. It also helps to regenerate gastrointestinal mucosa, which is important if you have had any kind of food allergy.
Additionally, glutamine serves other important functions, let’s look at how it helps with cravings for carbs.
Glutamine is an amino acid that your brain can use as an emergency substitute fuel when you haven’t eaten recently or have been eating too many carbs and your blood sugar level is too low. This glucose stand-in stops the impulse to run to the candy machine when it’s low blood sugar time. This, of course, saves your adrenals from overworking. L-glutamine can stop carb cravings and get you feeling steady and even within ten minutes (less if you open a capsule and place the contents under your tongue). So if blood sugar swings cause your carb cravings, you can supplement with 500-1500 mg. on awakening, in the midmorning and midafternoon.‘ (source)
Glutamine is also widely use as a body builder’s supplement for muscle growth. Finally, it’s used as an aid for recovery after surgery. ‘It is also known that glutamine has various effects in reducing healing time after operations. Hospital – stay times after abdominal surgery can be reduced by providing parenteral nutrition regimes containing high amounts of glutamine to patients. Clinical trials have revealed that patients on supplementation regimes containing glutamine have improved nitrogen balance, generation of cysteinyl-leukotriennes from polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes, and improved lymphocyte recovery and intestinal permeability (in postoperative patients), in comparison to those that had no glutamine within their dietary regime, all without any side-effect.’ (source)
So, all that shared and now what? Well, I am certainly not a medical professional, I am just a researcher, passionate to heal my own ailments. I share all of this in the hopes it may help someone study further for themselves on such issues and find some resolutions to unresolved issues. My personal hope is to use it for a short time and see how it helps my gut healing and then go off of it, continuing on with healthy real nourishing eating habits, namely avoiding foods I know irritate me and eating plenty of proteins chockful with these essential amino acids. Food sources of l-glutamine include; beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, and even trace amounts are found in fermented foods. As for the supplement, I just picked up a bottle of the powder form by Now, and take a teaspoon at a time letting it dissolve under my tongue. It actually tastes slightly sweet and is not gross at all.
(*Note* if you have manic depression/bipolar disorder do not use l-glutamine. If you currently have cancer, talk to your doctor first before supplementing with l-glutamine.)

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