Glutamine

Our rating
Question mark: This treatment has not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.

What is it?

Glutamine is an amino acid. It is produced by the body and stored mostly in the muscles. Glutamine is found in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and beans.

How does it work?

Glutamine is used by the body to make a chemical messenger in the brain (glutamate). Some people with depression have lower levels of glutamate in the brain. It has been suggested that increasing consumption of glutamine may improve mood.

Is it effective?

There is not enough scientific evidence to determine if glutamine is helpful in the treatment of depression. There are no studies examining whether it is any more effective than dummy pills (placebos) in treating depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

Concerns about the safety of long term use of glutamine have been raised. More research is needed to better understand the side effects of glutamine, especially for longer term use.

Dietary supplements, including glutamine, may have negative interactions with prescribed medications or other supplements, and could have side-effects. They should always be taken under the supervision of a health care professional.

Where do you get it?

Glutamine is found in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and beans. Glutamine is also available as a dietary supplement from health food shops and online.

Recommendation

Glutamine cannot be recommended for depression given the lack of scientific evidence about its effectiveness. There are also concerns about its safety when used in the long term.

Key references

  • Holecek, M. Side effects of long-term glutamine supplementation. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition; 2012; 37: 607-616.
  • Luykx JJ, Laban KG, van den Heuvel MP, Boks MP, Mandl RC, Kahn RS, et al. Region and state specific glutamate downregulation in major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of H-MRS findings. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2012; 36(1):198-205.

Last reviewed and updated: 1 May 2019