Can glutamine enhance your mind and mood by reducing stress, anxiety, depression and more?

Dr. Priscilla Slagle, author of The Way Up From Down, says on her website The Way Up that L-glutamine and L-tyrosine are the two amino acid supplements she most often prescribes in her practice. She recommends L-glutamine (a common form of glutamine) for various health problems, mostly to increase energy, and improve mood, concentration, focus, and memory.

According to Slagle, glutamine is often low in people with yeast overgrowth (candida). This depletion is partly responsible for the “brain fog” they feel.

Could glutamine supplements improve your mind and mood?

What is glutamine and how does it work?
Can we buy glutamine supplements?
Which foods are good sources of glutamine?
What is glutamine taken for?
What evidence is there that glutamine works to boost brain power?
Does glutamine have any side effects?
What medications can glutamine interact with?
Who should avoid taking glutamine?

What is glutamine and how does it work?

Glutamine is an amino acid in our bodies. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

WebMD says glutamine is made in our muscles. The blood distributes glutamine to the organs that need it.

Glutamine might help gut function, the immune system, and other vital processes in the body, especially in times of stress.

Glutamine provides “fuel” (nitrogen and carbon) to 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 injury we need nitrogen to repair the wounds and keep the organs functioning. About one third of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.

Muscle wasting can occur if the body uses more glutamine than the muscles can make, such as during times of stress. This can happen in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking glutamine supplements might keep glutamine at healthy levels in the body.

Some chemotherapy can lower glutamine levels in the body. Glutamine treatment might help prevent chemotherapy-related damage by maintaining the life of affected tissues.

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) says glutamine is needed to remove excess ammonia – a common waste product in the body. Glutamine also appears to be vital for normal brain function.

Can we buy glutamine supplements?

Yes, we can buy glutamine supplements. They are sold in tablet, capsule, liquid, and powder form. In Australia we can buy them from health food stores and some pharmacies.

Which foods are good sources of glutamine?

Foods that contain glutamine include:

  • meat (including poultry)
  • fish and seafood
  • milk
  • yoghurt
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • beans
  • tofu

What is glutamine taken for?

Glutamine supplements have been used for many things such as:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • increase energy levels
  • moodiness
  • improving memory, focus and concentration
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • enhancing exercise performance
  • helping people with AIDS absorb nutrients better and gain weight
  • bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colon inflammation
  • relieving the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal
  • reducing swelling and soreness in the mouth, and diarrhea caused by chemotherapy for cancer
  • preventing infections, especially after intense exercise and infections linked to surgery
  • boosting the immune system
  • improving wound healing, such as helping burns heal faster
  • enhancing recovery after bone marrow transplants or bowel surgery
  • helping reduce the rate of death of critically ill people and those who’ve suffered trauma
  • nerve pain (neuropathy)
  • a urinary problem called cystinuria
  • sickle cellanemia

Note: there has been little or no research done on glutamine on many of the above problems, so how effective glutamine is for these is unknown.

What evidence is there that glutamine works to boost brain power?

A study on bone marrow transplant patients found glutamine made the patients more “vigorous, less angry and fatigued.”

Researchers at Boston Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts, gave healthy volunteers between 40 and 60 grams of glutamine a day for five days. Glutamine was found to be safe, and participants could solve problems better in performance tests. The amino acid supplement appears to work soon after starting it, and have a greater effect over time. The results of both studies were published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

Does glutamine have any side effects? says the more common side effects of glutamine might include:

  • cough or hoarseness
  • frequent urge to defecate
  • straining while passing stools lists many less common side effects of glutamine. The website says: “Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur”, above a list of nearly 30 side effects including:

  • blood in the urine
  • problems swallowing
  • fainting
  • frequent and painful urination
  • breathing problems such as rapid, shallow breathing or shortness of breath

Under the above list is another list of less common side effects. says that:

“Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:”

Over 50 less common side effects follow including:

  • body aches or pain
  • sneezing
  • skin problems such as blisters, coldness, hives, stinging or itching
  • swelling of, for example, the legs, arms or face
  • vomiting

WebMD says:

“Glutamine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults and children when taken by mouth, but the potential side effects of glutamine are not known.

Adults should avoid using more than 40 grams of glutamine daily. Children, age [sic] 3 to 18, should not be given doses that are larger than 0.65 grams per kg of weight per day. Not enough is known about the safety of higher doses in children.”

According to the UMMC:

“Glutamine appears to be safe in doses up to 14 g or higher per day.”

What medications can glutamine interact with?

WebMD says glutamine can or might interact with:

  • lactulose, which helps reduce ammonia in the body
  • cancer medications
  • anticonvulsants (medications to prevent seizures)

Who should avoid taking glutamine?

It’s best to take glutamine under the care of a relevant health care provider. Glutamine can interact with some supplements, prescription and non prescription medication, and it can have side effects.

Don’t take glutamine if you have liver disease or kidney disease. Glutamine might worsen these health problems.

To date, studies of glutamine were only done on adults, so whether or not children and seniors react badly to glutamine is unknown.

Not enough is known about the risks of glutamine on pregnant or breastfeeding women. WebMD says stay on the safe side and avoid taking it, if this applies to you.

If you are sensitive to MSG, you might also be sensitive to glutamine. This is because the body converts glutamine to glutamate.

Glutamine might cause mental changes in people with mania. Avoid taking glutamine if you have mania.

There is concern that glutamine might increase the likelihood of seizures in some people. Avoid using glutamine if you have seizures.

written by Nyomi Graef

Glutamine, 2009, WebMD,

Glutamine, 2010, University of Maryland Medical Center,

Glutamine for Depression, 2009,,

Glutamine (Oral route), 2010,,

L-Glutamine, n.d., The Way Up,

Young, L S et al., 1993, Patients receiving glutamine-supplemented intravenous feedings report an improvement in mood, Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition, Vol. 17, No. 5, 422-427,

Ziegler, T R et al., 1990, Safety and metabolic effects of L-glutamine administration in humans, Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition, Vol. 14, No. 4 Supp., 137S-146S,

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3 Responses to “Can glutamine enhance your mind and mood by reducing stress, anxiety, depression and more?”

  1. […] Can glutamine enhance your mind and mood by reducing stress … […]

  2. Glutamine is literly like gold dust. For me it gives me more energy, clears mental fog & emotional stress, less craving for sugar, great for – before & after training for triathlons, less aches & pains. Totaly aids recovery & strengthens the immune system, mental calmness yet more alert. Stress relief and the list goes on! Oooo and great for my IBS aswell. Iv noticed a HELL of a difference when I havent been able to afford to buy it so now I make sure I can afford it! THE NUMBER ONE AMINO ACID and iv took them all in L-Form. DLPA comes in at 2nd place & 5HTP in 3rd place. If there is one side effect I could say it increases mania but id rather be manic than depressed any day! 😀

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