Glutamine
Glutamine

Background

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the body. It's made in the muscles and transferred by the blood into different organ systems.

Glutamine is a building block for making proteins in the body. It's also needed to make other amino acids and glucose. Glutamine supplements might help gut function, immune function, and other processes, especially in times of stress when the body uses more glutamine.

People take glutamine for sickle cell disease, burns, to improve recovery after surgery, for injuries, and for complications of HIV/AIDS. It is also used for diarrhea, cystic fibrosis, obesity, lung cancer, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these other uses.

Glutamine (Endari) is approved by the US FDA as a prescription drug for sickle cell disease.
When taken by mouth: Glutamine is likely safe when used in doses up to 40 grams daily. Side effects are generally mild and might include bloating, nausea, dizziness, heartburn, and stomach pain.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Glutamine is consumed as part of the diet. There isn't enough reliable information to know if glutamine is safe to use in larger amounts as a medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Glutamine is likely safe when taken by mouth in doses up to 0.7 grams/kg body weight daily. There isn't enough reliable information to know if higher doses of glutamine are safe.

Liver disease: Glutamine can increase the risk for brain function issues in people with advanced liver disease. Do not use it if you have liver disease.

Bipolar disorder: Glutamine might increase the risk for mania or hypomania in people with this condition.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) sensitivity: If you are sensitive to MSG, you might also be sensitive to glutamine. The body converts glutamine to glutamate.

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

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
  • Sickle cell disease. A specific glutamine product (Endari, Emmaus Medical, Inc) is a US FDA-approved prescription drug for sickle cell disease. Taking it by mouth reduces sudden complications of sickle cell disease.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Burns. Administering glutamine through a feeding tube seems to improve healing in people with severe burns.
  • Critical illness (trauma). Taking glutamine by mouth or by IV seems to reduce complications in critically ill adults. But it doesn't seem to reduce the risk of death. IV products can only be given by a healthcare provider.
  • Involuntary weight loss in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking glutamine by mouth seems to help HIV/AIDS patients absorb food better and gain weight.
  • Recovery after surgery. Giving glutamine by IV seems to reduce the number of days spent in the hospital after surgery. But it doesn't seem to reduce the risk of death after any type of surgery. IV products can only be given by a healthcare provider.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • Athletic performance. Taking glutamine by mouth doesn't seem to improve athletic performance.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease). Taking glutamine by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms of Crohn disease.
  • An inherited condition that can lead to kidney or bladder stones (cystinuria). Taking glutamine by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms of this condition.
  • Infants weighing less than 2500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces). Giving glutamine to infants by mouth doesn't seem to improve side effects from low birth weight.
  • A group of inherited disorders that cause muscle weakness and muscle loss (muscular dystrophy). Taking glutamine by mouth doesn't improve muscle strength in children with muscular dystrophy.
  • Growth and development in premature infants. Giving glutamine by mouth doesn't seem to prevent illness or death in premature infants.
  • Diarrhea caused by radiation therapy. Taking glutamine by mouth doesn't prevent diarrhea or reduce the severity of diarrhea caused by radiation therapy.
There is interest in using glutamine for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Glutamine has most often been used by adults in doses of 15-30 grams by mouth daily for up to 12 months. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

For information on using prescription glutamine, a product called Endari, speak with a healthcare provider.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Glutamine may increase the risk of seizures in some people. Therefore, taking glutamine may decrease the effects of medications used to prevent seizures.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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Per 37.5 g:
Per 35.2 g:
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This monograph was last reviewed on 19/03/2022 00:54:48 and last updated on 01/12/2020 03:11:25. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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