TPM Tidbit: My Experiment with L-Glutamine

July 27, 2012 in Categories: , by

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A number of followers have pointed me toward L-glutamine supplementation as a way to reduce sugar cravings, which I experience when stressed or fatigues.  As I started researching the merits of L-glutamine supplementation, I found evidence that it can also speed up healing the gut and reduce systemic inflammation, including inflammation in the brain.  I have started to thoroughly research this topic for an upcoming post, as there seems to be some fairly well understood mechanisms for why a deficiency in glutamine may contribute to a leaky gut.  I started supplementing with L-glutamine two weeks ago, taking 1-2g on an empty stomach between meals 2-3 times a day (I have to admit, I have not been that regular with when I take it because my life has been so hectic lately).  I actually started with a lower dose, but increased to this level after reading the recommendations in Practical Paleo (how cool to read about the benefits of L-glutamine supplementation from such a reliable source just one week after I started!  And as a quick aside, if you haven’t ordered this book yet, I highly recommend that you do!). 

What have I noticed so far?  My sleep has been fabulous.  Even when my kids get me up at night, I seem to slip back into a deep sleep very easily.  I have had far less muscle soreness after particularly challenging yoga classes.  It does seem to help sugar cravings if I take a dose right when I’m starting to look around the house for something sweet to eat that won’t irritate my digestion too much (tough on the Autoimmune Protocol!).  And, I have had higher carbohydrate meals in the last week (stress plus displacement from my home), which normally causes horrible bloating and constipation, and was absolutely fine afterward, no ill effects to my digestion whatsoever.  Now, I have to admit that this experiment overlaps with my no coffee experiment.  So, now I have to evaluate if any of the benefits I am seeing is actually due to my avoidance of coffee (and this is why I always advise changing one thing at a time!).  My plan is to reintroduce coffee while keeping up with the L-glutamine supplements and see how I do (late next week some time I think). 

Comments

Excellent!! I’ve been wondering if the L-glutamine I take is helping my gut heal. And how exactly? Thank you!

I’ll get into the details in my post, but basically the cells that line your gut use glutamine (bought with a sugar molecule) as a fuel. They are healthier cells when they have enough energy and can repair themselves faster.

I will have to check out that book. I read Julia Ross’ The Diet Cure a couple years ago. I have had great results taking L-Glutamine between meals and even when I’m legitimately hungry. There are some meals I take to work which seem as though they would not spike blood sugar and I would be satisfied, but I am looking for something sweet after lunch. It is usually a big salad with ample protein or a thermos of soup made from bone broth. Weird. I have heard about using it for exercise recovery but I’m not sure how much to take. The real challenge is remembering to take it and having it with me. I like to chew the capsule.

I have a friend who is sensitive to free glutamate, regardless whether it is MSG in a processed food or in homemade bone broth. I wonder how related this supplement is?

From what I’ve read, glutamine is converted into glutamate in many cell types in the body. I don’t know if that would cause an issue or not, since it’s a normal and essential process in those cells.

Protein is also insulinogenic – lean protein with salad doesn’t necessarily mean insulin isn’t in play…

Very much looking forward to your post regarding brain inflammation. It is something I suffer from with my illness. I found sticking to grass fed/organic/pastured meats improves my cognitive symptoms.

I totally didn’t mean to delete this awesome comment! Good think I had the text of it saved. This was the original comment:

“Sarah, I’ve been truly enjoying all of your leaky gut/autoimmune/eczema posts. You’ve done an amazing job filling a void in the online Paleo community, with these really well-researched, and very relevant posts. Your recent one about spices really hit home. I recently had a bad run-in with hidden spices in my food, and ended up running to the doctor for a steroid shot.

Thank you for this post on L-Glutamine. I just ran to the health food store for a bottle.

Please keep the information coming!

Faye”

I meant to hit the reply button and say “Wow! Thank you SO much! I really just write about what is interesting to me as I learn more and struggle with my own health. And while it’s always more work to address these topics that are less well-covered in existing books and blogs, it’s very rewarding too.”

Did you find that it made your constipation worse? I have issues very similar to yours with constipation, and I’ve never been able to stick with L-Glutamine because it seems to make that issue worse.

No, I didn’t get constipated at all with L-Glutamine (and I’ve been on the super watch for digestion slow downs with my avoidance of coffee). If anything, I seem more regular. Have you tried Licorice Root? or Ginger? Maybe take them concurrently?

I Love, love, love, L-glutamine! I got it initially to help with late night sugar/carb cravings and it has helped me so much more than I could have imagined. I feel so much more clear headed. I’m honestly never really hungry either. I get it in the powder form and mix it in a little water. Great stuff! Perfect complement to the paleo lifestyle!

Do you take l-glutamine right when you feel a sugar craving? I just started Paleo and taking l-glutamine. I have only taken it once and that was directly after a workout. Any suggestions on when and how often to take?
Thanks!!

L Glutamine works wonders! Not only did it help me with my sugar cravings, but before I changed my eating habits, it helped soothe my digestive tract from my poor diet. Definitely helped boost my immune system as well.

What about the magnesium stearate and other added ingredients to the supplements? I’m finding I have trouble with many of the additives. Help please! Thank you.

Hi Beverly, have you tried powdered forms of the supplements? Many are better absorbed this way I believe. Definetly easier to get a larger dose like you need with L-Glutamine.

That’s exactly what I am doing. Finding powdered supplements. How many mg of L-Glutamine are needed to boost the immune system?

I’m taking it to help with intestinal lining. I’ve seen 5 to 10 grams/day recommended for that. Not sure about boosting the immune system, but Sarah recommends 3 to 5 grams/day in a comment above.

Thanks. My powder is 5 grams, so just need to get better with taking it. Thanks again for your reply.

Hello, I was wondering if anyone may know if healng my gut faster with l glutamine will help with a horrible anxiety, panic, muscle tension problem I developed after going to low calorie by accident. :-( I have gained back all my weight, period returned, body temp good. I feel great except for the mood/sleep disturbances. It been a year of paleo and aip diet, I have fibromyalgia. I have a natropath but can’t afford to see him now. So angry for the mistake I made while trying to heal. I didn’t weigh food and really never realized that I was only between 1000 and 1800. Im so desperate to start feeling calmer like I did at the beggining of going paleo. I tried dopatone and seritone from apex for he mood and they both made the tension/anxiety worse again and felt like I was drinking 8shots of expresso for a few days. Its slowly getting less but im at my wits end. All other fibro symptoms are gone.
Thanks

There is definitely a connection between gut health and mental health. You might also try adding a probiotic in addition to your other efforts to heal your gut. Also, really really working on sleep (as much as you can possibly manage) and stress management will help dramatically. Eating tryptophan rich foods (organ meat and seafood) will help with the neurotransmitter piece. Eating enough and not going too low carb will help with the cortisol piece.

Thank you so much! I have a good probiotic from my natropath. I do eat turkey every other day and fish in between that for breakfast and lunch. I get about 100-150g of carb now and 2300 cals. Manageing the stress is the hardest part as it feels completely out of control, as doing hobies i love can set it off too if i worry at all about what ok im dojng. But I have been utilizing mindfulness, yoga, and combating the worry by making it feel unpleasant to do so. Guess its best to start from scratch and heal the gut again. Ty again, good to know im on the right track! Your the best!

Michele, one thing I found really helpful is taking a hi-end B Complex, a bit of Zinc, Magnesium and Rhodiola. I like the AOR and Thorne brands personally and have found them quite helpful.

Thank you very much!
I did try zinc a few months ago and that helped a bit. I tried a multi with b complex but felt werid on it. I take 300 of magnesium. Never tried rhodiola but I will. Thanks!
The tension on one side and muscle cramps remain. I may need a chiro as wearing a neckbrace makes the neck and head tension better.
I really made a mess of myself undereating carbs. :-( I never haf tension like this it burns so badly.

I, too, found that l-glutamine helped control my cravings. I was taking it to help see if I can kick some of these food intolerances, and I did not know about the effect on cravings. I googled it after the fact because, in me, it was so significant when taken three times daily on an empty stomach. I was not very hungry. It did not worsen or help my chronic constipation. I have read that it can worsen that issue. I have read that it can cause stimulation neurologically in susceptible people–anecdotally it seems they really had issues with worsening anxiety/triggering mania because l-glutamine acts as an excitotoxin. I will be interested to see what you find in research regarding this. I would hate for this to happen to anybody susceptible! (Luckily, I had no issues here, either!!!!). Thank you for your work. It must be very difficult as you manage the family, travel, book, and research! All the best to you!

Why do you even want to bring back coffee after you have quit? This is the world’s number one addiction, it is a drug and is horrible on your endocrine system. The adrenal glands are hit the worst. Drink Teecchino as an alternative to this horrible drug! I stopped 6 months ago and wont ever go back. Oh yeah not to mention how it affects your thyroid!

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your outstanding blog! You’ve been such a help to my wife and me! We’ll most certainly buy your book! If I had more money, I’d donate too!

Anyway, you note that your “plan is to reintroduce coffee while keeping up with the L-glutamine supplements and see how [you] do.”

I couldn’t find another post on glutamine that is a follow up to this post. How did it work out? Was the glutamine the cause of your good sleep? I ask because I’m suffering from insomnia, among other things.

Thanks!

Louis

I’ve been too scared to try and reintroduce, especially now with so much book stress. I keep saying I will try a weekly cup of coffee as a weekend treat when the book is done.

I don’t take L-glutamine regularly anymore (I do when I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t have), but still find I’m sleeping pretty well. I don’t know.

I have a lot of trouble swallowing pills with water, so I take them with a bite of soft food. Glutamine is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach, but would it still work if I took it with just one spoonful of food?

Also, it reduces cravings and somebody above said it made them less hungry in general. I need to gain weight, and I’ve finally developed a good appetite. Would it be better for me to hold off on glutamine until I reach my goal weight?

Thanks for all the great information!

I think it would be fine to take with a little food. I have never found that it curbs my appetite, so I think it’s worth trying but definitely discontinuing if you find yourself not wanting to eat.

Great post (and blog for that matter). One question, do you have any idea why some L-Glutamine bottles say “Do not refrigerate”? I’ve been looking online and I can’t seem to find the answer.

Your book says .3-.5g/per kilogram bodyweight. That’s 24-40g/day for me. Is that correct? It seems like a lot.

I have a fructose and lactose malabsorbtion condition, and I have heard of all the glutamin benefits. However my gut right now is rather irritated an I am aprehansive about adding glutamin to my diet. I live in the Netherlands and the fodmap diet is relatively new, this is why I cannot seem to find an answer to the above question….

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