Glutamine is an amino acid widely used to maintain good brain functioning. Glutamine is a derivative of glutamic acid which is synthesized from the amino acids arginine, ornithine and proline. Glutamine improves mental alertness, clarity of thinking and mood. It is found abundantly in animal proteins and needed in high concentrations in serum and cerebro-spinal fluid. When glutamic acid combines with ammonia, a waste product of metabolic activity, is converted into glutamine.
Glutamic acid is also a precursor of GABA, an important neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glutamic acid helps transport potassium into the spinal fluid and is itself an excitatory neurotransmitter. Glutamic acid has been used to treat mental retardation, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and alcoholism.
Because glutamic acid cannot cross the blood brain barrier, where most of the metabolism takes place, glutamine, which can cross this barrier, works better in supplement form. Glutamine can also be used by cells like glucose for metabolic energy. It helps to raise blood sugar and is therefore valuable in the treatment of hypoglycemia.
Research has also shown that supplementation of glutamine reduces the craving for alcohol and is now commonly used in alcoholism clinics. It also seems to reduce the craving for sugar and carbohydrates. Other noted areas of usefulness are treatment of depression, peptic ulcers, schizophrenia and senility, and behavioral problems and autism in children.