Physical stresses such as athletic exhaustion, injuries or surgical procedures often leave the body more susceptible to potentially dangerous infections. Research has shown that glutathione, the body’s own antioxidant which supports immunity and detoxification, is typically depleted in the muscles following a major trauma. There is also a correlation between glutathione depletion and depletion of the amino acid L-glutamine.
Researchers at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Sweden wondered if L-glutamine supplementation might counteract glutathione depletion after trauma, thereby reducing the risk of infection. A group of patients undergoing a standard surgical procedure were given either 560 mg of L-glutamine per day or a placebo. Muscle and blood samples were taken before and after surgery. At 24 hours after surgery, total muscle glutathione had decreased by approximately 47% in the placebo group. In contrast, no significant post-operative decreases of glutathione were observed in the treatment group. The researchers concluded that L-glutamine could lower glutathione depletion after traumas such as surgery. As such, L-glutamine may be a safe and effective way to help prevent infections after physical trauma.
Sources: Clin Sci (Lond). 2003 Mar;104(3):275-82