Glutamine may be beneficial following surgery and injury




J Nutr

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L-glutamine is the most prevalent amino acid in the blood. Human cells readily manufacture L-glutamine and under normal circumstances, dietary intake and production of L-glutamine is sufficient. However, in times of stress or increased energy output, the body's tissues need more L-glutamine than usual. One of L-glutamine’s most important functions involves the support of cellular energy, growth and repair. In addition, there have been studies supporting the benefits of glutamine in wound healing and intestinal disorders. L-glutamine can be found in beans, brewer's yeast, brown rice bran, dairy products, eggs, fish, legumes, meat, nuts, seafood, seeds, soy, whey, whole grains, and beet root.

In the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston published a review of clinical studies that examined the use of glutamine supplementation following elective surgery and injury. The researchers reviewed the available data from six randomized blind trials that demonstrated a shorter length of time in the hospital following surgery in those patients receiving glutamine supplementation. Other benefits identified by the reviewers were a decreased rate of infection in patients after blunt trauma and benefits for patients recovering from burn injuries.

The mechanism by which glutamine is effective in decreasing the recovery time of these patients reviewed is not clearly understood. However, the researchers indicate that there was enough data present to suggest that supplementation with glutamine in some surgical patients can be beneficial. Glutamine has rare side effects and the only known drug interaction is with mexotrexate so there are few risk factors to consider regarding its use as a complementary therapy. To fully understand how glutamine provides these benefits, more research would be required that is targeted at these specific issues.1


1. Wilmore DW. The effect of glutamine supplementation in patients following elective surgery and accidental injury. J Nutr. Sep 2001;131(9 Suppl):2543S-9S.