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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 increased glutamine may improve mood.

Is it effective?

There is not enough scientific evidence to determine if glutamine is helpful in the treatment of depression. For example, there are no studies examining whether it is any more effective than dummy pills (placebos). More studies of better quality are needed.

Are there any disadvantages?

Concerns about the safety of long term use of glutamine have been raised. A study into the side effects of glutamine is required especially for longer term use.

Some dietary supplements can be harmful or ineffective if you take the wrong dose. Talk to your health care professional if you are thinking of taking supplements.

Where do you get it?

Glutamine is available as a dietary supplement from health food shops and online.


Glutamine cannot currently 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 (1)H-MRS findings. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2012; 36(1):198-205.

Last reviewed and updated: 16 March 2015