Glutamine is Wonder Woman of Gut Nutrients: Possible role in Maintaining Gut Health in Cancer Treatments?

Glutamine

Oral glutamine supplementation may enhance the therapeutic index by protecting normal tissues from, and sensitizing tumor cells to chemotherapy and radiation-related injury. There is evidence to suggest glutamine supplementation may decrease the incidence and/or severity of chemotherapy-associated mucositis, paclitaxel-induced neuropathy, and the cardiotoxicity that accompanies anthracycline use ( Savarese, 2003).

A phase III randomized, double-blind study at Mayo failed to note any significant reduction in acute diarrhea in patients undergoing pelvic radiation therapy taking 4 grams glutamine BID as compared to controls ( Kozelsky, 2003). However, it is possible that under severe stress, such as that encountered with pelvic RT, much higher levels of glutamine may be needed to maintain epithelial integrity in the gut ( Savarese, 1998)—doses of 20-40 grams per day have been suggested ( Hall, 1996).  The study by Kozelsky et al, initiated glutamine at the onset of treatment, though, positive results have been primarily seen when started 5 days prior ( Daniele, 2001). Thus, many questions remain regarding dose, timing and effectiveness for oral glutamine in the prevention of radiation-induced GI toxicity.

Glutamine is a mainstay of integrative treatment for GI conditions including IBS, Colitis and leaky gut syndromes.

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