Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it. Glutamine might help gut function, the immune system, and other essential processes in the body, especially in times of stress. It is also important for providing “fuel” (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar).
After surgery or traumatic injury, nitrogen is necessary to repair the wounds and keep the vital organs functioning. About one-third of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.
When the body is stressed (from injuries, infections, burns, trauma, or surgical procedures), it releases the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. High levels of cortisol can lower your body’s stores of glutamine.
Clinical studies have found that glutamine supplements strengthen the immune system and reduce infections (particularly infections associated with surgery). Glutamine supplements may also help in the recovery of severe burns.
Glutamine helps to protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract known as the mucosa. For that reason, some have suggested that people who have inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) may not have enough glutamine.