Glutamine – Benefits for Post Surgery Recovery and in Relation to Cancer


Before my diagnosis, I was taking this supplement to support muscle recovery while on a stringent exercise programme.

In hospital, I didn’t have the cognisance to be religious about it but I did take it again after I was discharged.  I employed all the help I could get for a speedy recovery from the surgeries.  I’m convinced my recovery was also aided by a good muscle tissue gained from the training.

Muscle / post-surgical recovery

“Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (building block of protein) in the body.”…“You can usually get enough glutamine without taking a supplement, because your body makes it and you get some in your diet. Certain medical conditions, including injuries, surgery, infections, and prolonged stress, can lower glutamine levels, however. In these cases, taking a glutamine supplement may be helpful.”
Source: University of MarylandMedical Center;

 Cancer and Glutamine

“Many people with cancer have low levels of glutamine. For this reason, some researchers speculate that glutamine may be helpful when added to conventional cancer treatment for some people. Supplemental glutamine is often given to malnourished cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments and sometimes used in patients undergoing bone marrow transplants.”

“Glutamine seems to help reduce stomatitis (an inflammation of the mouth) caused by chemotherapy. Some studies, but not all, have suggested that taking glutamine orally may help reduce diarrhea associated with chemotherapy.”

“More clinical research is needed to know whether glutamine is safe or effective to use as part of the treatment regimen for cancer.”
Source: University of MarylandMedical Center;

Additional reading

Source: A paper titled “Glutamine and Cancer”, PubMD, Author from Division of Surgical Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston

´Patients take glutamine supplements to treat cancer and HIV/AIDS related cachexia or recovery from catabolic states such as surgery, sepsis, and intense exercise. Glutamine is the major fuel source of enterocytes, lymphocytes, and macrophages, and is thought to act by enhancing gut integrity, immune function, and protein synthesis”
Source: Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, New York

How I take it & Where to get it

It tastes like chalk – very bland.  I usually mix in a teaspoon or two with a fruit & yoghurt smoothie or with my porridge.  You can probably add it to fruit juice but that has a gag factor for me – fruit juice isn’t meant to be powdery!  I’m not sure what the best time of day is to take it (possibly at night while you’re resting) but I manage adding it to breakfast-type foods so that’s when I take it rather than not at all.

It’s commonly sold in powder form in an over-sized tub in the sports supplements section in health stores.  Try Dischem for the biggest range I’ve found.  Don’t be put off by the muscle-bound sales staff!  They’re quite friendly, I’ve found.

*Always consult your doctor first before making changes to your diet because every patient’s needs are different from the next.

PS: Depending where you look, reports on Glutamine are either positive, negative, or inconclusive.  In terms of preventing muscular degeneration, it has mostly positive reviews.  In relation to cancer, it varies.  Of course, to cover their own professional hides, most doctors / researchers are more comfortable ending their papers with something along the lines of, “well, we can’t be sure.”  Here’re a few more links that’re sure to put you off the stuff – you decide.  Ultimately, you’re in charge of you.


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