I wrote a newsletter about l-glutamine in November of 2006, so I decided it was time to revisit this subject. This amino acid has been used by body builders to help develop muscle mass. It has also been used for babies born prematurely to assist in better digestion, and to protect and regenerate the lining of the digestive tract. It is used in cases of starvation to help in healing and for better assimilation of nutrients. Let’s look at some of the newer information and explore the benefits, and drawbacks, that have been updated.
L-glutamine is easily found in good numbers in our bodies. It is found in good amounts in dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese and meat. While it is unknown why we might suffer a depletion of this amino acid, people consuming a vegan diet may be low in this amino acid. It is known that many cancer cells use l-glutamine for energy, and when this causes us to become low in this amino acid, it causes wasting or cachexia. In most types of cancer, it is helpful to give the patient l-glutamine to help prevent this. But in a few types of cancer, it may cause the tumor to grow. But then, it is important to keep the patient as healthy as possible. More research is being done on this now. I will share any new findings that I might find on this.
Research shows l-glutamine can add in healing, if given three days prior to major surgery. In some cases, it is given via IV after surgery to further assist if needed. It can also help maintain and regain some muscle mass, although studies have shown it is NOT helpful to put on MORE muscle mass in a health individual.
Our bodies releases cortisol in times of stress or injury, which in turn reduces l-glutamine in the body. It has been demonstrated that giving patients l-glutamine who have suffered severe burns, or had a traumatic injury, or suffered bad infections, heal faster. It has also been used to prevent multiple organ shut-down due to traumatic injury when used in the emergency surgical centers.
Infants or adults suffering poor digestion due to starvation or immature digestive tract, benefit from l-glutamine, as it helps with weight gain and assimilating nutrients, AND healing the digestive tract lining. That was the reason for my first investigation of this amino acid and why it is in the Berte’s Immune Blend and the Berte’s Digestion Blend. Many dogs suffer inflammation of the digestive tract lining, which leads to diarrhea, gas, and poor assimilation of nutrients. This, in turn, can results in poor hair coat, poor skin, odor, and loss of weight. The inability to absorb nutrients well results in muscle and weight loss. This, in turn, can bring on a misdiagnosis of allergies and food intolerances. If this happens, the dog is often prescribed steroids and antibiotics. This further weakens the immune system and creates more inflammation in the gut. Additionally, they are given high-fiber, low-fat prescription dog foods, which do more damage to the already damaged stomach and intestines. I have seen the best results for all these issues from adding l-glutamine to the diet, along with probiotics and animal-based digestive enzymes, coupled with a moist diet. Preferably a fresh food diet.
L-glutamine has also shown some benefits with certain heart conditions; most notably, angina in humans.
While l-glutamine has some wonderful benefits, there are also times when you should avoid this supplement. High doses can increase ammonia in the blood stream, so it should not be used in dogs with chronic renal failure or liver failure, or issues with shunts or purine stones. Extra ammonia in the blood stream is an issue for all these conditions.
Secondly, l-glutamine is not recommended for dogs that may be prone to seizures. This may be due to the fact that ingesting l-glutamine produces more ammonia in the bloodstream. It is speculated this may trigger seizures in a dog with a history of past epilepsy events.
And while l-glutamine has shown promise in humans with type 2 diabetes, it is important to understand that dogs only have type 1 diabetes, which l-glutamine has no effect in helping.
For further review of l-glutamine and research sources, here are two great articles:
For use in dogs with inflammation of the digestive tract, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, healing of stubborn bacterial infections, burns, or after a traumatic injury, I suggest giving about 2,000 mg per 25 pounds of body weight daily. I would also add the Berte’s Digestion Blend to further help with assimilation of nutrients, to help replace the good flora and fauna in the dog’s system, and to help fight nausea. B-Naturals carries both of these wonderful products. These products also help with skin and coat issues.
Please remember, a moist diet is much easier for your dog to digest and if it is a fresh cooked or raw diet, it can offer much more in nutrients!
August is upon us, please keep your dog safe in the hot weather! Keep them cool and hydrated!