Supplements for gut health: L-glutamine

By Cat, Aug 25, 2017

I’m researching how to improve gut health, since I have leaky gut issues. This posting discusses the controversial L-glutamine supplement, and will likely be updated frequently as I learn more.

See also: 1. Natural Healing Remedies Menu of Articles; scroll down to Healing Remedies Section (includes recipes for beverages, etc.)


A few years ago, my naturopath suggested I try powdered myo-inositol (Vitamin B8) in a glass of water or my smoothie, to help with my insulin resistance hat I’ve had since my early 20s. It did really help with that issue, but it didn’t stop there.

I’ve had problems with food sensitivities for at least 30 years. Food sensitivities are a type of food intolerance associated with IgG-mediated immune response (as opposed to food allergies which are associated with IgE-mediated immune response) (6). My acupuncturist also practices NAET, which can clear most food sensitivities and allergies; he’d clear me for one and then a new one would appear. This went on for more than 15 years.

When I started taking myo-inositol, I brought a sample of it to my next acupuncture appointment, so he could test me for it. I was strong (meaning it is not problematic for me). But it didn’t stop there, as he soon realized that if he tested me for a food sensitivity and then added the bottle of myo-inositol to the test, it made me strong.  That meant the inositol helped to resolve the sensitivity to that particular food. This happened with each subsequent food sensitivity, but as time went on, new sensitivities became less frequent. After 2 years taking them myo-inositol, I no longer have any food sensitivities, including sulfur-containing supplements like alpha-lipoic-acid (ALA) or N-aceytl-cysteine (NAC).

Meanwhile, I’d learned more about what causes food sensitivities from several health documentary series. Basically, food sensitivities result from not-fully-digested-foods in the gut that cross through the gut membrane into the blood (normally the gut would not allow this to happen, but various issues can cause leaks in the gut membrane). Because these foods are not fully-digested, the IgG immune system responds, and in the future, if it recognizes that same partialy-digested food, it causes pain and other symptoms in the gut.

It made sense that myo-inositol helps with those issues, because one of its roles is to heal and improve function of cell membranes. For example, restoring/reactivating receptors on the cell membrane (these receptors help the cell communicate with other cells, and also help the cell take up needed nutrients such as sugar for fuel). See my Diet and Health Menu for several pertinent articles such as Choline, Inositol, and Insulin Resistance, and Supplements for Insulin Resistance.

Even tho my food sensitivities have not returned, and no new ones have developed, I continue to take myo-inositol so those sensitivities do not re-appear, and to avoid other health issues that result from not enough inositol in the diet.


I started taking this supplementally in 2016, to help heal my gut. But then I learned it may also fuel the growth of cancer cells (in a TTAC interview of Dr. Russell Blaylock) and present other issues (Dr. Mercola), so I decided to take a break from its use while I research the issue. I have since decided I will do a 2-week on, 2-week off schedule for taking L-glutamine supplement.

L-glutamine is an amino acid present in many proteins, and is perhaps the most common amino acid in the body. The body can make it, but it is also abundant in high-protein foods. It is known to help heal the gut, plus it is a precursor to glutathione, the critical detox agent for the liver and brain. But it is controversial in that some believe it fuels the growth of cancer, plus other issues. Here are some pertinent articles on both sides of the argument.

Every Woman over 29 blog by certified nutritionist, Trudy Scott (1): offers research articles in support of the healthfulness of L-glutamine. She writes in her 2016 article: “I have now gathered 20+ studies showing glutamine to be beneficial in cancer: it heals the gut, helps boost glutathione, helps with muscle wasting, helps when someone is going through chemotherapy and radiation, and is useful for bone marrow transplants. Studies as far back as 1990 state it has benefits and doesn’t promote tumor growth, with 5 of them published this year.” In a later paragraph she writes: “I do list cancer as a possible issue under the glutamine precautions and recommend that you check with your oncologist if you are currently undergoing treatment.”

Dr. Mercola provides several arguments (not just the cancer arguement) against supplemental use of L-glutamine for most people in his article on Glutamine (2). need a summary of his article, or conclusion quote

Huffington Post-UK: Author Aidan Goggins writes as a conclusion to his article on Glutamine and Cancer (3), “Thus, it may come as no surprise that many recommendations exist for cancer patients to steer clear of glutamine. But here’s the thing, such is the efficiency of the glutamine sourcing machinery of the cancer cells, that they will always have enough from the glutamine that is produced in the body. It is our healthy cells which become depleted and lose out. For example, with low glutamine comes low glutathione in our natural killer cells impeding their ability to defend our healthy cells and promote immune function which may be necessary in the cancer battle. With more than 90% of the body’s glutamine supply in muscle, this will become heavily depleted creating a serious negative nitrogen balance. It seems likely that this depletion is tied to the common occurrence of cachexia and that supplementation of glutamine could confer great benefit. The clinical importance of cachexia is emphasised by the fact that it is the principal cause of death in about one third of cancer patients. While academic consensus still does not exist, a large body of evidence is now available to support glutamine supplementation in cancer patients; improving clinical outcome and quality of life, as well as reducing the risks of high dose chemotherapy and radiation.” 

Dr. Dave Allderdice, N.D.’s Sage Cancer Care blog. In his article on Safe and Effective Use of Glutamine in Integrative Cancer Care (3), he concludes with, “The wise naturopathic oncologist will tailor a specific schedule of dosing glutamine for their patients that will overlap with active treatment, but should not be something taken while in remission or on a chemo break. There are some even finer points to be added  on how to best dose glutamine depending on the exact schedule of chemo or radiation received. Through a well researched and artfully managed approach, cancer patients can get the full power of prevention and restoration that glutamine offers without compromising their ability to fight caner. This is the power of the sage approach and one of the strongest reasons to have a fully integrative team behind you as you walk the path to successful cancer treatment.

Dr. Axe article on Glutamine Benefits and Side Effects (5) He lists several benefits (and provides references which I don’t include here):

  1. “it is a building block of protein” and muscle;
  2. it is a vital nutrient for the intestines to rebuild,” especially important when there is leaky gut;
  3. Helps heal ulcers and leaky gut by acting as a band-aid for protection from further damage;”
  4. Is an essential neurotransmitter in the brain and helps with memory, focus and concentration;
  5. “Improves IBS and diarrhea by balancing mucus production, which results in healthy bowel movements”
  6. “Promotes muscle growth and decreases muscle wasting”
  7. “Improves athletic performance and recovery from endurance exercise”
  8. “Improves metabolism and cellular detoxification”
  9. “Curbs cravings for sugar and alcohol”
  10. “Fights cancer”
  11. “Improves diabetes and blood sugar”
  • References:

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