L-glutamine taken as a supplement can bring a variety of benefits.
Glutamine can help maintain a healthy immune system by providing a source of energy for immune system cells known as lymphocytes.
A further benefit of L-glutamine is that it can aid and help maintain a healthy gut. L-glutamine can improve the barrier function of the gut and help prevent leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which there is increased permeability of the gut wall. In such circumstances contaminants such as toxins, undigested food and waste can pass through the wall of the intestine and affect other parts of the body.
Glutamine is sometimes taken by AIDS/HIV patients who experience weight loss associated with their condition and its treatment. By supplementing with glutamine, the intestines are able to absorb more nutrients.
L-glutamine crosses the brain-blood barrier and transports nitrogen to the brain. Benefits include an improvement in mental function such as memory, alertness and concentration.
L-glutamine helps regulate the level of blood sugar in the body. When blood sugar levels are low, insulin is suppressed. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas which removes sugar from the blood.
When blood sugar levels are low, glutamine also stimulates the release of glycogen, a form of stored sugar (glucose) which increases blood sugar levels so they can be restored.
Although l-glutamine is synthesized in the body, the introduction of external sources of l-glutamine can brings its own benefits. During times of stress, glutamine levels in the body can become low as more demands are made upon this amino acid.
Factors such as stress, aging and serious illness can cause glutamine to be drawn away from muscles, where the majority of it is stored, to help the immune system or to regulate blood sugar.
Under these circumstances, where glutamine levels are low, glutamine can be a conditionally essential nutrient . Although the body produces glutamine, glutamine supplements can used to restore glutamine levels.
Supplementation of glutamine can help combat the effects from various stress factors associated with high cortisol levels, restoring glutamine and strengthening the immune system.
Stress factors which can deplete levels of l-glutamine include:
Low levels of glutamine often arise following surgery where the body has been under stress and is in a state of repair. Glutamine can reduce post operative healing time. For example, one study looked at glutamine as a recovery aid for patients following abdominal surgery .
The study found that patients given glutamine supplementation had a post operative hospital stay 6 days shorter than the group which were not given glutamine. Also, there were no reported side effects of glutamine from these patients.
Glutamine may be of benefit to people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Within the body, glutamine is used to form the mucosa, a protective lining in some organs and cavities Glutamine is also used to form the mucosa in the digestive tract.
Glutamine supplements may help conditions associated with problems of the digestive tract. However at present, there is no strong evidence to suggest that glutamine can help with conditions of the digestive tract such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Low levels of glutamine are often found in cancer patients who are malnourished following cancer treatment. Glutamine supplements can help restore these levels. Glutamine supplements may also help with the side effects of cancer treatments.
For example, chemotherapy, a treatment for cancer, has many possible side effects including diarrhea and stomatitis / oral muscositis.
Supplements of l-glutamine may also increase the effectiveness of certain drug treatments for some cancers. For example, it may help the effectiveness of 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, & methotrexate which are used to treat colon cancer.
With breast cancer treatment, glutamine may prevent nerve damage, a side effect of the medication paclitaxel.