Glutamine Helps Stomach Ulcers
Monday, May 18, 2009
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
A new animal experiment shows the power of glutamine1 to dramatically reduce the inflammation caused by excessive H. pylori infection – a typical cause of ulcers. “Our findings suggest that extra glutamine in the diet could protect against gastric damage caused by H. pylori,” says senior author Susan Hagen, PhD, Associate Director of Research in the Department of Surgery at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.
“Gastric damage develops when the bacteria weakens the stomach’s protective mucous coating, damages cells and elicits a robust immune response that is ineffective at ridding the infection.” Eventually, she notes, years of infection result in a combination of persistent gastritis, cell damage and an environment conducive to cancer development.
“Our work demonstrated that the damaging effects of ammonia on gastric cells could be reversed completely by the administration of L-glutamine,” explains Hagen. “The amino acid stimulated ammonia detoxification in the stomach – as it does in the liver – so that the effective concentration of ammonia was reduced, thereby blocking cell damage.”
Glutamine is not in a free form in food, meaning it must be digested and absorbed before it can be sent to your digestive tract. The use of antacid medication reduces protein digestion and absorption, setting up a nasty catch 22.
However, supplemental glutamine can go to work directly on your digestive tract without being absorbed. This study shows how effectively glutamine can reduce digestive tissue damage by controlling inflammation. Keep in mind that H. pylori is a normal inhabitant of every person’s digestive tract. Like Candida, it only becomes a problem when it gets out of balance.
A healthy digestive tract lining is a fundamental principle of health and assists you to not let any “bad guys” gain an undue toe hold in your digestive tract. In fact, the only way to really regain digestive health includes having a healthy GI tract lining – not just trying to kill or reduce numbers of potential undesirable organisms.
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