Using Glutamine to Manage Side Effects of Cancer Treatment
Glutamine is the most plentiful protein building block (amino acid) in the body and is used for the processes that make energy. Most of the glutamine is found in your skeletal muscle. Glutamine fuels immune cells, connective tissue and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
Why Glutamine is Important
Our bodies can make glutamine. During times of stress glutamine becomes essential and we may need extra amounts. An additional 30 to 40 grams of glutamine per day may be needed.
In patients with cancer the use of glutamine may help with symptoms of
Inflammation of the mouth lining (mucositis)
Sore mouth and throat (stomatitis)
Tingling in fingers and toes (peripheral neuropathy)
Glutamine had been used with good results in those patients receiving:
Radiation therapy to the oral cavity or neck and to the gastrointestinal tract.
Bone Marrow transplantation
The chemotherapy agents paclitaxel, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and oxaliplatin.
How To Use Glutamine
Glutamine is a powder
Mix the powder with water, another liquid or semi-solid food such as applesauce or pudding. It dissolves best in warm water.
Take immediately after mixing
Normal dosage is 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Most adults take 30 grams per day.
Glutamine should be taken in divided doses. For example, take 15 grams two times per day, 10 grams three times per day, or 5 grams six times per day.
During radiation therapy, it is recommended the dosing start 5 days prior to treatment and continues to 1 week after treatment ends.
During chemotherapy, it should start 5 days before the day of treatment and continue for a total of 44 days after treatment ends.
You should not use glutamine if you have renal failure or liver dysfunction.
This information originally appeared in the Journey Guide Patient Handbook developed by the Ireland Cancer Center at University Hospitals, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2013.
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Last Reviewed: Feb 13, 2013
Dietician and Oncology Specialist
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University