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Crohn's Disease & L-Glutamine

By Jaime Herndon

Amino acids are important in nutrition generally, as they help your body build proteins, but amino acids like L-glutamine may also be helpful in treating certain diseases. Crohn's is a chronic disease that may be helped by dietary modifications, including the consumption of L-glutamine. More research needs to be done for definitive results, so do not use this supplement for your condition without first talking with your health care provider.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive, or gastrointestinal, tract. It most often affects the lower part of the small intestine and can cause swelling, pain and frequent emptying of the tract, resulting in diarrhea, states the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, or NDDIC. Every layer of the intestine may be affected in Crohn's disease, unlike other inflammatory bowel conditions like colitis. Symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, weight loss, arthritis, skin problems and fever. While it is not definitively known what causes Crohn's disease, there appears to be a hereditary link, as 20 percent of individuals with the condition have a blood relative with inflammatory bowel disease, says NDDIC.

L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine, an amino acid also known as simply glutamine, is a component used to make proteins. The human body manufactures enough glutamine for normal functioning, but large amounts of stress like that from an injury or intense exercise may increase the demand for glutamine, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. This amino acid is necessary for healthy and normal digestion and brain function and aids in immune system functioning. In addition to the glutamine your body makes, you can get it through food. Dietary sources of this amino acid include beef, chicken, fish, milk, raw spinach, parsley and cabbage.

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L-Glutamine for Crohn's Disease

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, glutamine may be useful in inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn's because it can help protect the mucosa lining the intestines. Study results using glutamine to help treat Crohn's disease show mixed results, but new formulations and targeted glutamine therapies for Crohn's disease may yield better results in the future, say M. Coeffier and coauthors in a 2010 article published in the journal "Inflammatory Bowel Diseases." Talk with your doctor before using glutamine to help treat your Crohn's disease, as it may not be appropriate for everyone.

Considerations

The University of Maryland Medical Center says glutamine is typically made in standard preparations of 500 mg, and usual dosages of the amino acid are 500 mg, one to three times daily. Individuals currently undergoing chemotherapy and those with liver or kidney disease should not consume this supplement. Before using glutamine, tell your doctor about any other medical condition you have or medications you are on to avoid the risk of adverse effects. Glutamine should not be used as a substitute for any treatment for Crohn's disease your doctor has prescribed.

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