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L-Glutamine for Anxiety

By Ashley Miller

Anxiety disorders can wreak havoc on your life, affecting your well-being and ability to function normally in society. While certain treatments like medication and psychotherapy can improve your symptoms, researchers have found that certain natural dietary supplements, like L-glutamine, can also provide benefits. Always consult your doctor before using any dietary supplement.

About L-Glutamine

L-glutamine is a naturally occurring form of the amino acid glutamine. Glutamine is the most abundant nonessential amino acid in your body. Nonessential amino acids can be acquired from food and also manufactured by your body, unlike essential amino acids, which can only be obtained from dietary sources. Glutamine is in foods such as beef, chicken, eggs, cabbage, beets and spinach. There is no recommended daily allowance for glutamine, because your body can make enough to meet its needs, according to Tufts Medical Center.

Anxiety, Glutamine and GABA

Glutamine is the precursor to another amino acid known as GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain, meaning that it has a calming effect on your nervous system. In her book, "Prevention of the Disease of Aging," Dr. Katherine Blanchett states that GABA helps to decrease the number of anxiety-related messages in your brain by inhibiting neuron firing. Because glutamine increases GABA production, it is thought that glutamine can also help to decrease symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety symptoms include feelings of worry, fatigue, irritability, tension, mood changes, sleep disturbances and cognitive difficulties. However, only one clinical supports the benefits of glutamine supplementation on symptoms of anxiety.

Clinical Evidence

A clinical study on hospitalized patients undergoing marrow transplantation evaluated the impact of glutamine supplementation on a number of mood factors, including anxiety, tension, fatigue, depression and confusion. The results of this study, published in the September 1993 issue of the "Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition," an international, peer-reviewed journal of nutrition and metabolism, found that patients receiving the supplementation experienced a significant improvement in all measured mood symptoms.

Considerations

While glutamine supplementation may help certain symptoms of anxiety, there's not enough clinical evidence to unequivocally prove its benefits. You should never use a dietary supplement as a replacement for conventional medical treatment. Do not attempt to self-treat or diagnose your symptoms. Consult your doctor if you think you have an anxiety disorder. According to Tufts Medical Center, glutamine is thought to be safe in dosages up to 14 g per day. However, as with any dietary supplement, you should inform your doctor if you choose to use glutamine.

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