Glutamine is one type of amino acid, the building blocks that make up proteins. As the most common amino acid in the body, glutamine plays important roles in many organs, including the lining of the digestive tract. Recent evidence has raised the possibility that treatment with glutamine may decrease the symptoms of certain digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, although additional research is needed to confirm these findings. As with all healthe supplements, you should ask your doctor before taking glutamine.
Glutamine Levels in IBS
Recently, researchers have discovered that people with a particular type of IBS characterized by chronic diarrhea often have low levels of glutamine, reports a study published in the June 2010 issue of the medical journal "Gut." In this study, researchers found that some patients with IBS had lower levels of glutamine than normal, which leads to increases in permeability in the intestinal lining. The authors theorize that the increased permeability of the intestinal lining allowed more toxins and bacteria to leak into the intestines, which irritates nerves and causes some of the symptoms of IBS.
In the 2010 "Gut" article, the authors found that glutamine levels were lower in patients with IBS because of defects in the regulatory pathways that create glutamine in the intestines. The authors proposed that treatment to correct this defect in the regulatory pathway could theoretically increase glutamine levels in the intestines and possibly decrease some of the symptoms of IBS. However, this theory still needs to be tested, and even if it is successful, it might only be effective for people with the chronic diarrhea form of IBS.
Other Glutamine Treatments
Glutamine is one component of an experimental formula known as Flortec, which is currently under testing for treating diarrhea caused by IBS. In addition to glutamine, Flortec contains probiotic bacteria, sugars and other components. Preliminary results of a small clinical trial suggest that Flortec reduced the diarrhea symptoms of IBS, reports a study published in the September 2008 issue of the "Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology." Additional large scale human trials are needed to confirm these results.
Glutamine and Other Digestive Disorders
Supplements containing glutamine have also been tested for treating inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, which include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Unlike treating IBS, glutamine appears to be ineffective for treating IBD, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, additional large scale studies are needed to confirm this conclusion.
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