Glutamine

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What other names is Glutamine known by?

Acide Glutamique, Acide Glutamique HCl, Acide L-(+)-2-Aminoglutaramique, Acide L-Glutamique, Acide L-Glutamique HCl, Alanyl-L-Glutamine Dipeptide, Éthyle Ester de Glutamine, Éthyle Ester de Glutamine HCl, GLN, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Glutamic Acid HCl, Glutamina, Glutaminate, Glutamine Ethyl Ester, Glutamine Ethyl Ester HCl, Glutamine Methyl Ester, Glutamine Peptides, Levoglutamide, Levoglutamine, L-(+)-2-Aminoglutaramic Acid, L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine, L-Glutamic Acid, L-Glutamic Acid HCl, L-Glutamic Acid Hydrochloride, L-Glutamic Acid 5-Amide, L-Glutamine, N-Acetyl-L-Glutamine, Peptides de Glutamine, Q, (S)-2,5-Diamino-5-oxopentanoic Acid.

What is Glutamine?

Glutamine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins), found naturally in the body.

Glutamine is taken by mouth to counter some of the side effects of medical treatments. For example, it is used for side effects of cancer chemotherapy or HIV treatment including diarrhea. It is also used to reduce other side effects of cancer chemotherapy such as nerve pain, swelling inside the mouth (mucositis), loss of some white blood cells, and muscle and joint pains caused by the cancer drug Taxol. Glutamine is also used to protect the immune system and digestive system in people undergoing radiochemotherapy for cancer of the esophagus. Additionally, glutamine is used for improving recovery after bone marrow transplant or bowel surgery, increasing well-being in people who have suffered traumatic injuries, and preventing infections in critically ill people or people following burns.

Some people take glutamine by mouth for digestive system conditions such as diarrhea, inflammation of the pancreas, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease, and in people with problems absorbing nutrients because they have HIV or had part of their intestines removed. It is also used for depression, moodiness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, and enhancing exercise performance.

People who have HIV (AIDS) sometimes take glutamine by mouth to prevent weight loss (HIV wasting). It is also used to promote muscle strength in people with cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy.

Glutamine is also used for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a urinary condition called cystinuria, sickle cell anemia, and for alcohol withdrawal support. In premature or very small newborns, glutamine is used to prevent death or illness.

Glutamine is given intravenously (by IV) for improving recovery after bone marrow transplant, surgery or burns. It is also used to prevent side effects of cancer chemotherapy such as pain and swelling inside the mouth (mucositis) and for preventing infections in critically ill people. In very small newborns, glutamine is used to prevent death or illness.

Glutamine powder can be ordered through most wholesale drug suppliers. Glutamine for commercial use is made by a fermentation process using bacteria that produce glutamine.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Burns. Administering glutamine through a feeding tube seems to reduce infections, shorten hospital stays, and improve wound healing in people with severe burns but no lung injury. Administering glutamine through a feeding tube also seems to shorten hospital stays and reduce the risk of infections in people with severe burns and lung injury. Administering glutamine intravenously (by IV) seems to decrease the risk of some infections in people with severe burns. But it does not seem to decrease the risk of death.
  • Critical illness (trauma). Although not all results are consistent, most research shows that glutamine keeps bacteria from moving out of the intestine and infecting other parts of the body after major injuries. Glutamine might also reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections in people who are critically ill. Glutamine seems to prevent hospital-acquired infections better when given intravenously (by IV) rather than by a feeding tube. Overall, glutamine does not seem to reduce the risk of death in critically ill people.
  • Treating weight loss and intestinal problems in people with HIV/AIDs disease. Taking glutamine by mouth seems to help HIV/AIDS patients absorb food better and gain weight. Doses of 40 grams per day seem to produce the best effect.
  • Surgery. Giving glutamine intravenously (by IV) along with intravenous nutrition seems to improve immune function and reduce complications related to infections after surgery, especially major abdominal surgery. Giving glutamine by IV along with intravenous nutrition might also reduce the risk of infection and improve recovery after bone marrow transplants. However, not all people who receive bone marrow transplants seem to benefit. It's possible that glutamine works best in people receiving bone marrow transplants for blood tissue cancers but not solid tumors.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Athletic performance. Taking glutamine by mouth does not seem to improve athletic performance.
  • Crohn's disease. Taking glutamine by mouth does not seem to improve symptoms of Crohn's disease.
  • Inherited disease that causes stones in the kidneys or bladder (Cystinuria). Taking glutamine by mouth does not seem to improve an inherited condition that causes stones to form in the kidneys or bladder.
  • Early infant death. When glutamine is given to preterm infants by needle or in to the gut, illness and early death does not appear to be prevented.
  • Muscular dystrophy. Research shows that taking glutamine by mouth does not improve muscle strength in children with muscular dystrophy.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Diarrhea caused by drugs used to treat HIV. Early research shows that taking glutamine by mouth reduces the severity of diarrhea in people with HIV who are taking the drug nelfinavir.
  • Diarrhea caused by chemotherapy treatments. Some early research shows that glutamine helps prevent diarrhea after chemotherapy. But not all research findings agree.
  • Reducing damage to the immune system during cancer treatment. There is some evidence that glutamine reduces damage to the immune system caused by chemotherapy. However, not all research findings agree.
  • Cystic fibrosis. Early research shows that taking glutamine by mouth does not increase protein gain in children with cystic fibrosis.
  • Diarrhea. One early study shows that taking glutamine by mouth reduces the duration of diarrhea in children. But taking glutamine by mouth along with conventional rehydration solutions does not appear to have an advantage over rehydration solutions alone.
  • Low birth weight. Some research suggests that using glutamine in feeding tubes decreases infections in some low birth weight infants. However, most research suggests that it does not decrease infections, increase growth, decrease the length of hospital stay, or reduce death in low birth weight infants.
  • Obesity. Early research shows that taking glutamine might help with weight loss in obese women.
  • Soreness and swelling inside the mouth, caused by chemotherapy treatments. In some people, taking glutamine by mouth seems to reduce soreness and swelling inside the mouth caused by chemotherapy. But it doesn't seem to benefit all chemotherapy patients. Some researchers think it works best in people with low glutamine levels during chemotherapy treatment.
  • Muscle and joint pains caused by the drug paclitaxel (Taxol, used to treat cancer). There is some evidence that glutamine might help to reduce muscle and joint pains caused by paclitaxel.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). An early study shows that giving glutamine intravenously (by IV) along with intravenous nutrition improves immune function but does not reduce the risk for complications or the amount of time spent in the hospital in people with pancreatitis.
  • Nutrition problems after major gut surgery (short bowel syndrome). Researchers have studied whether glutamine combined with growth hormone is effective in treating short bowel syndrome. This combination seems to help some patients become less dependent on tube feeding. However, glutamine alone does not seem to be effective.
  • Anxiety.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Irritability.
  • Moodiness.
  • Sickle cell anemia.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Treating alcoholism.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate glutamine 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).

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How does Glutamine work?

Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it. Glutamine might help gut function, the immune system, and other essential processes in the body, especially in times of stress. It is also important for providing "fuel" (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar).

After surgery or traumatic injury, nitrogen is necessary to repair the wounds and keep the vital organs functioning. About one third of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.

If the body uses more glutamine than the muscles can make (i.e., during times of stress), muscle wasting can occur. This can occur in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking glutamine supplements might keep the glutamine stores up.

Some types of chemotherapy can reduce the levels of glutamine in the body. Glutamine treatment is thought to help prevent chemotherapy-related damage by maintaining the life of the affected tissues.

Are there safety concerns?

Glutamine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth in doses up to 40 grams daily, and when used intravenously (by IV) in doses up to 600 milligrams per kilogram of weight daily.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Glutamine is POSSBILY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Children aged 3 to 18 years should not be given doses that are larger than 0.7 grams per kg of weight daily. Not enough information is known about the safety of higher doses in children. Glutamine is also POSSIBLY SAFE for children when used intravenously (by IV) in doses up to 400 milligrams per kilogram of weight daily.

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

Bone marrow transplants: Giving glutamine intravenously (by IV) might increase the risk of mouth ulcers or death in people receiving bone marrow transplant. Until more is known, avoid giving glutamine by IV to these patients. Swishing glutamine in the mouth and then swallowing might be beneficial for these patients.

Cirrhosis: Glutamine could make this condition worse. People with this condition should avoid glutamine supplements.

Severe liver disease with difficulty thinking or confusion (hepatic encephalopathy): Glutamine could make this condition worse. Do not use it.

Mania, a mental disorder: Glutamine might cause some mental changes in people with mania. Avoid use.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) sensitivity (also known as "Chinese restaurant syndrome"): If you are sensitive to MSG, you might also be sensitive to glutamine, because the body converts glutamine to glutamate.

Seizures: There is some concern that glutamine might increase the likelihood of seizures in some people. Avoid use.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Lactulose
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Lactulose helps decrease ammonia in the body. Glutamine is changed into ammonia in the body. Taking glutamine along with lactulose might decrease the effectiveness of lactulose.



Medications for cancer (Chemotherapy)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

There is some concern that glutamine might decrease the effectiveness of some medications for cancer (chemotherapy). But it is too soon to know if this interaction occurs.



Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Glutamine may also affect chemicals in the brain. By affecting chemicals in the brain, glutamine may decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.

Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.

Dosing considerations for Glutamine.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For burns: 0.35-0.5 grams per kilogram body weight each day or 4.3 grams every four hours.
  • For critical illness or trauma: Glutamine has been given in a liquid feed at 0.2-0.6 grams per kilogram body weight each day or at a dose of 20 grams per day has been used. It is usually given for at least 5 days.
  • For HIV wasting: 14-40 grams of glutamine per day has been used in combination with other nutrients.
BY NEEDLE: BY MOUTH:
  • For burns: 0.57 grams of glutamine per kilogram body weight each day has been used for 30 days.
  • For critical illness or trauma: 0.3-0.5 grams per kilogram or 18-21 grams of glutamine compounds have been given daily, sometimes with hormones.
  • For reducing complications after surgery: 0.57 grams of glutamine per kilogram body weight has been used after bone marrow transplantation. Also, 20 grams of glutamine per day or 0.3 grams per kilogram body weight has been used in people undergoing surgery. Sometimes glutamine is given in the form of glutamine dipeptide. Typically 18-30 grams of glutamine dipeptide used. This amount is equivalent to 13-20 grams of glutamine.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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