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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & L-Glutamine

By Alison Smith ; Updated August 14, 2017

To function properly, your body depends on proteins. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins, and glutamine is the most plentiful amino acid in the body. Produced mainly by the lungs and stored primarily in muscle tissue, glutamine, or L-glutamine, supports intestinal health, and it can help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.


Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by bouts of intestinal cramping, pain, gas, diarrhea and constipation, caused by the large intestine muscles contracting too quickly or too slowly. IBS affects 10 to 20 percent of the American population and is not associated with intestinal damage. Although the cause of IBS is unknown, it is associated with food allergies, stress, intestinal muscle dysfunction and decreased serotonin levels, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

L-glutamine & Intestine

L-glutamine helps reduce the symptoms of IBS by protecting the integrity of the mucus membrane inside the large intestine. The digestive process can subject the intestine to harmful bacteria, resulting in increased intestinal permeability, which introduces bacteria into the bloodstream. The intestine uses more L-glutamine than muscle tissue, and supplementation helps alleviate intestinal irritation by blocking bacterial infiltration. It also enhances immune cell activity in the gut, which inhibits infection and inflammation and soothes the intestinal tissue. The intestine also uses L-glutamine for energy production and can help reduce intestinal spasms, according to Stanford University Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base. If your IBS is linked to stress, L-glutamine supplementation may also help your symptoms by reducing your cortisol levels.


L-glutamine is available in powder and capsule forms. It should be taken with cool liquids, since heat destroys amino acids and proteins. This supplement is not recommended for children under the age of 10. However, for kids and adolescents ages 11 to 18, the recommended daily dosage is 500 mg one to three times daily. For adults, 500 mg three times daily is also recommended, but dosages up to 21 g per day are tolerated well, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center and Stanford University Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base.

Risks & Benefits

L-glutamine supplementation is not recommended for those suffering from kidney disease, liver disease or Reye’s syndrome. The supplement may, however, increase the effectiveness of colon cancer chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin, methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil, and prevent intestinal nerve damage caused by paclitaxel. Consult your physician before taking L-glutamine.

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