Glutamine

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names

  • L-Glutamine

Introduction

Glutamine is a compound found in the body. It is needed for immune, digestive, and muscle function. Glutamine has been used for nutritional support. It has also been used to help the body fight infection. It can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be injected into the bloodstream by a healthcare provider.

Dosages

3 to 30 grams daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Acute pancreatitis —likely to reduce the risk of death and infections A1, A2
  • Gastrointestinal tumor—likely to improve immune function, lower the risk of infection, and shorten time in the hospital E1
  • Liver transplantation—likely to improve outcomes in people having a liver transplant H1, H2

May Be Effective

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Cancer Treatment Support —unlikely to improve intestinal swelling or diarrhea after radiation, but may improve mouth sores and lean body mass B1, B2
  • Preterm infants—unlikely to prevent disease or death in preterm infants J1

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to take glutamine in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interactions
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

A Acute Pancreatitis
A1 Asrani V, Chang WK, et al. Glutamine supplementation in acute pancreatitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pancreatology. 2013;13(5):468-474.
A2 Jafari T, Feizi A, et al. Parenteral immunonutrition in patients with acute pancreatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;34(1):35-43.
A3 Yong L, Lu QP, et al. Efficacy of Glutamine-Enriched Nutrition Support for Patients With Severe Acute Pancreatitis: A Meta-Analysis. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2016 Jan;40(1):83-94.
A4 Castro-Gutiérrez V, Rada G. IS there a role for glutamine supplementation in the management of acute pancreatitis? Medwave. 2016;16(3):e6512.
B Cancer Treatment Support
B1 Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, et al. Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Apr 13;(4):CD000978.
B2 Sun J, Wang H, et al. Glutamine for chemotherapy induced diarrhea: a meta-analysis. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2012;21(3):380-385.
B3 Leggett S, Koczwara B, et al. The impact of complementary and alternative medicines on cancer symptoms, treatment side effects, quality of life, and survival in women with breast cancer--a systematic review. Nutr Cancer. 2015;67(3):373-391.
B4 Papanikolopoulou A, Syrigos KN, et al. The role of glutamine supplementation in thoracic and upper aerodigestive malignancies. Nutr Cancer. 2015;67(2):231-237.
B5 Ward EJ, Henry LM, et al. Nutritional support in children and young people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 24;(8):CD003298.
B6 Brami C, Bao T, et al. Natural products and complementary therapies for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: A systematic review. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016 Feb;98:325-334.
B7 Sayles C, Hickerson SC, et al. Oral Glutamine in Preventing Treatment-Related Mucositis in Adult Patients With Cancer: A Systematic Review. Nutr Clin Pract. 2016 Apr;31(2):171-179.
B8 Leung HW, Chan AL. Glutamine in Alleviation of Radiation-Induced Severe Oral Mucositis: A Meta-Analysis. Nutr Cancer. 2016;68(5):734-742.
B9 Cao DD, Xu HL, et al. Therapeutic role of glutamine in management of radiation enteritis: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials. Oncotarget. 2017;8(18):30595-30605.
B10 Mochamat, Cuhls H, et al. A systematic review on the role of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other supplements for the treatment of cachexia in cancer: a European Palliative Care Research Centre cachexia project. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2017 Feb;8(1):25-39.
B11 Lawrie TA, Green JT, et al. Interventions to reduce acute and late adverse gastrointestinal effects of pelvic radiotherapy for primary pelvic cancers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jan 23;1:CD012529.
C Critical Illness
C1 Tao KM, Li XQ, et al. Glutamine supplementation for critically ill adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Sep 9;(9):CD010050.
C2 Oldani M, Sandini M, et al. Glutamine Supplementation in Intensive Care Patients: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Aug;94(31):e1319.
C3 van Zanten AR, Dhaliwal R, et al. Enteral glutamine supplementation in critically ill patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Care. 2015 Aug 18;19:294.
C4 Mottaghi A, Yeganeh MZ, et al. Efficacy of glutamine-enriched enteral feeding formulae in critically ill patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2016;25(3):504-512.
C5 Stehle P, Ellger B, et al. Glutamine dipeptide-supplemented parenteral nutrition improves the clinical outcomes of critically ill patients: A systematic evaluation of randomised controlled trials. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2017 Feb;17:75-85.
D Crohn Disease
D1 Akobeng AK, Elawad M, et al. Glutamine for induction of remission in Chron’s disease; Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;2:CD007348.
E Gastroinestinal Tumor
E1 Kang K, Shu XL, et al. Effect of glutamine enriched nutrition support on surgical patients with gastrointestinal tumor: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Chin Med J (Engl). 2015 Jan 20;128(2):245-251.
F Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
F1 Crowther M, Avenell A, et al. Systematic review and meta-analyses of studies of glutamine supplementation in haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2009 Oct;44(7):413-425.
G Irritable Bowel Syndrome
G1 Zhou Q, Verne ML, et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trial of dietary glutamine supplements for post infectious irritable bowel syndrome. Gut. 2019;68(6):996-1002.
H Liver Transplantation
H1 Langer G, Großmann K, et al. Nutritional interventions for liver-transplanted patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15;(8):CD007605.
H2 Lei Q, Wang X, et al. Peri-operative immunonutrition in patients undergoing liver transplantation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2015;24(4):583-90.
I Major Burns
I1 Tan HB, Danilla S, et al. Immunotherapy as an adjuvant therapy for burns. Tan HB, Danilla S, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(12):CD007174.
J Preterm Infants
J1 Moe-Byrne T, Brown JV, et al. Glutamine supplementation to prevent morbidity and mortality in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 18;4:CD001457.
K Severe Gastrointestinal Disease in Infants
K1 Brown JV, Moe-Byrne T, et al. Glutamine supplementation for young infants with severe gastrointestinal disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Dec 15;(12):CD005947.
L Sickle Cell Disease
L1 Niihara Y, Miller ST, et al. A Phase 3 Trial of l-Glutamine in Sickle Cell Disease. N Engl J Med. 2018;379(3):226-235.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 02/2020
  • Update Date: 05/27/2020