Digestive distress: Glutamine supplementation

The amino acid L-glutamine is a nutrient that has proved to be especially useful for healing cells of the gastrointestinal tract. By boosting the energy of these cells and stimulating their regeneration, glutamine also aids the growth of new tissue.

The benefits of this nutrient were known as far back as the 1970s. One study (albeit in rats, so not necessarily applicable to humans) showed substantial protection of glutamine at 1500 mg/kg/day against aspirin-induced stomach ulcers – in both the active and healed stages (Digestion, 1976; 14: 85-8).

It’s also worth noting that glutamine can protect the stomach lining against potential injury. One Chinese study found that the early administration of glutamine to severe burns patients prevented the complication of stress ulcers that commonly develop after extreme thermal injury (Chung Hua Cheng Hsing Shao Shang Wai Ko Tsa Chih, 1995; 11: 189-92).

Glutamine at 400 mg four times a day for four weeks completely healed stomach ulcers in more than 90 per cent of the patients taking it (Texas State J Med, 1957; 53: 840-3).
digestive disorders, nutritional supplements, glutamine, amino acids, stomach acid, antacids, peptic ulcers, burns, stress

Case study
Zoe Mallard
A new diet and lifestyle cured my MEMy symptoms first started in June 2001, when I collapsed while shopping, and I just went steadily downhill from there. My GP sent me to various specialists and conducted many tests, but could find nothing wrong.

After six months of referrals and tests, my GP finally diagnosed me as having chronic fatigue syndrome [myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME]. In addition to the chronic fatigue, I was experiencing irritable bowel problems, and suffered a lot from vertigo and extremely low blood pressure. I was sick virtually every day and I lost two and a half stone.

Then, I read an article about an airline pilot who had made a full recovery from ME using nutritional therapy, and who now runs a helpline and nutritional-therapy correspondence course for ME sufferers at The Red Apple Clinic in Newport. I immediately contacted the clinic. I also went to see Professor Finley, who runs a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course at the Romford Hospital in Essex.

Both forms of therapy recommended similar dietary changes, and after only two or three days on the diet, I noticed a big improvement in my symptoms. I stopped being sick and my IBS disappeared.

From that day onwards, I went from strength to strength. I have now been back at work for 12 months altogether, and everyone says I look better now than I did before I became ill. Other things which have helped to aid my recovery as well as to sustain my current general wellbeing are yoga and reflexology.

Another really important factor in my recovery are the lifestyle changes I have made since attending the CBT course. It taught me how to put some balance back into my life and how to pace myself. I have learnt to say no to unreasonable demands. I now concentrate on keeping well and on not letting anything else weigh me down. I don’t let things affect me now.

During my recovery, I found that one of the most fundamentally important issues was to stick with the positive and throw out the negative. I now hope that my story can be an inspiration to others. – Zoe Mallard, Northamptonshire

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

Explore Wellness in 2021