This article explains whether taking glutamine helps IBS. I will explain if taking these supplements helps symptoms based on proven science.
As an IBS sufferer you are well researched – usually due to the desperation in trying to find a solution. But is glutamine good for IBS symptoms or is it yet another fad which you wasted your money one?
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What is Glutamine?
L-glutamine or glutamine is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of all protein – including that found in our body.
There 20 amino acids in total, some of which are essential, and others are not. Non-essential amino acids can either be eaten in your diet or your body can make them from other amino acids.
Essential amino acids are ‘essential’ – they cannot be made from other amino acids. In total there are 20 of this type of amino acid.
L-glutamine is not an essential amino acid and can be both eaten and produced in your body.
Can L-Glutamine Help IBS?
So you will have likely have read about glutamine on untrustworthy websites – wondering whether you should ‘give it a go anyway.’
I know that having IBS often leads you in a vulnerable place of being willing to try ANYTHING. Often the result being that you get nowhere whilst losing money, time and a little faith that you will ever feel normal again.
Well today I have good news for you! Hot off the press, a new study has found that glutamine supplements do help with IBS! But read in detail before you jump on the band wagon.
The Research on Glutamine and IBS
As a dietitian I make a professional pledge to you – “I will ONLY provide advice based on strong scientific evidence.” I also value how well researched and self-motivated you are when you have IBS. So instead of just giving you the – “take X amount daily.” I will tell you the why behind this.
So, this recent study was a randomised, randomised, double blinded, placebo-controlled trial (AKA highly accurate and not based on the anatomy of a mouse).
The study included only those with IBS-D (diarrhoea predominant) who had a leaky gut (1).
Half the IBS participants were given 5g of glutamine powder 3 times a day for 8 weeks. Whilst half of the IBS participants were given a placebo.
The trial group reduced symptom severity score, stool frequency (from 5 to 3 a day) and reduced their leaky gut by around half and improved stool consistency.
Even more promising – there was no serious side effects, which I know is always a concern when starting new supplement.
This is not the only study of its kind. There have been others which show glutamine supplementation may help with IBS, but these were much smaller (2).
This has always meant that their results would not be considered accurate enough for me to advise you on as I do value the struggle you have come through and only want to provide strong guidance to support you.
How Much Glutamine Should I Take For IBS?
I would suggest sticking to the doses used in the study as we know that this works. As more research comes up, I will update you.
So – take 5g of powder 3 times a day.
How Long Should I Take Glutamine For IBS?
With this being the first good-quality study, we are still at early days. So I can not tell you yet how long you would need to take it for.
I also do not know if it will continue to work once you have stopped taking it, so continue to take it in your diet if you noticed an improvement in your symptoms.
With other areas of IBS, such as probiotics – the improvements in your symptoms only happen while you are taking the supplement.
Are Glutamine Supplements Safe?
I can fully understand that you may feel concerned about taking supplements. You may even have had bad experiences with certain ones like probiotics.
But rest assured, glutamine is safe – it is what you would be having naturally in your diet (just normally in smaller amounts). And, that study reported concerns at all.
The only time I would be wary is during pregnancy (we do not yet know enough about the effects) and also liver disease. If in doubt, always ask your dietitian.
Where Can I Buy Glutamine Powder?
Here are some suitable options for you to take a look at
Glutamine powder does help with symptoms if you have IBS-D. However, we need to wait for more research before advising on how long you need to take this for and also if it works in other IBS types.
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.
Hi Kirsten. I’m not sure I would call my IBS D-predominant. I am extremely frequent – I spend my whole life on the toilet – but my stool type varies from pebbles to normal to loose, often in the same day. Would L-Glutamine help?
Kirsten Jackson Specialist Dietitian says
Hi Sarah! It sounds like you have more a mixed-type so there is no research on this type yet to know if glutamine would be useful or not I am afraid.
Hi Kirsten, I have IBS-C I am always trying dofferent foods but what seems to work one day won’t work another.
It’s frustrating I think I have it all under control then my body goes into a downwoid spiral, the constipation can be unbearable.
Have you any suggestions on vitamins to take .?
Many thanks to you
Kirsten Jackson Specialist Dietitian says
Hi Tanya, I am sorry to hear this! Although its a very common story in IBS. There no specific vitamins needed for IBS – although I do recommend addressing any potential vitamin D deficiency.