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Glutamine and antioxidant supplements for AIDS-related wasting - progressive weight loss

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Each capsule delivers 100 mg of l-glutathione nourishment


Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (protein building block) in the body and is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid. Glutamine is converted to glucose when more glucose is required by the body as an energy source. It serves as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestines. Without it, these cells waste away. It is also used by white blood cells and is important for immune function.

Glutathione occurs naturally in many foods, and people who eat well probably have enough in their diets. Diets high in fresh fruits and vegetables and freshly prepared meats supply sufficient glutathione.

Muscle loss is a common symptom in people living with HIV/AIDS. In Africa, where HIV-2 is typical, this stage is typically seen about 6 months before death. The term for this muscle mass decrease is “wasting”. Research, clinical experience and observations of the progression of this disease in Africa, show that people who experience wasting have a lower survival rate than those who are able to maintain their body weight.

Glutamine sometimes called L-glutamine

Glutamine is a precursor of glutathione - an amino acid and anti-oxidant that occurs naturally in the body.  It is considered a nonessential amino acid. It is used in the growth and repair of muscle tissue, as a fuel for cells in the intestine and as part of an antioxidant complex (glutathione). People with HIV may take glutamine as a nutritional supplement, often in combination with other anti-oxidants and vitamin supplements. There is preliminary evidence that glutamine may reduce HIV-associated diarrhoea and wasting, and may slow HIV disease progression.(source).

Glutamine is derived from corn for commercial extraction. Glutamine is found in many foods high in protein, such as fish, meat, beans, and dairy products.

Nutritional supplements are recommended to help prevent and treat wasting. Glutamine, as a dietary supplement, has been studied in a clinical trial in combination with antioxidants (Nutrition 1999;15:860-864)

Twenty-six patients with AIDS-related wasting received either a placebo or 40 grams of glutamine per day in combination with antioxidants. After 12 weeks, the group treated with the glutamine-antioxidant combination gained on average 2.2 kilograms, compared to 0.3 kg in the placebo group. The researchers also noted "minimal changes in fat mass and extracellular water in both groups." This shows that the people who were treated with glutamine gained weight in the form of lean body mass.

In light of these findings, the researchers suggest that combining glutamine-antioxidant supplementation with nutritional counselling may provide an effective and low-cost approach to treating AIDS-related wasting.

(Data source )


Glutamine in combination with N-acetyl cysteine promotes the synthesis of glutathione, a naturally occurring antioxidant that is believed to be protective in people with HIV infection.

Order Mega L-Glutathione capsules

Swanson product also available:
Each capsule delivers 100 mg of l-glutathione nourishment


The low levels of glutathione seen in people with advanced HIV disease have been associated with higher viral loads, lower CD4 counts and reduced survival. During HIV-associated wasting, the body breaks down muscle to produce glutathione! Placebo-controlled studies have shown that glutamine (taken with other supplements) can reverse muscle wasting and increase weight (Clarke; Shabert).

Glutamine may also improve intestinal function. A study that compared glutamine with placebo as a treatment for leaky gut syndrome found that an 8 gm/day dose of glutamine showed a trend towards improved intestinal function and better absorption of simple sugars. The result was not statistically significant and the researchers suggested that 20 gm of glutamine may be required daily to produce a significant effect.

Gastro-intestinal condition and HIV

HIV grows in the cells that line the small intestine - especially in the  lower part (the ileum). Functional loss or deterioration of the ileum results in poor  absorption of many essential nutrients. People with AIDS typically demonstrate  lower levels of vitamins, bile acids and essential lipids in their  bodies. When absorption of essential nutrients is poor, immunity is  lowered, allowing bacteria and pathogens to invade the intestinal  cells and cause irritation, malabsorption and diarrhoea.

The intestinal tract cell lining is the only defense against the millions of microbes and bacteria that are found in the G.I. (gastro-intenstinal) tract. The fuel that these cells live on and use for growth is Glutamine. Supplemental glutamine is known to keep these cells healthy and in good repair, and thus, block the movement of bacteria and germs through the intestinal lining. When these cells are weak and damaged, microbes and bacteria will cross the lining of the G.I. tract and infect the body. From this, we have the term "leaky gut." When this happens, people experience fevers and night sweats. Another example  of unhealthy or damaged intestinal cells is diarrhea. Research has  shown that supplementing the diet with glutamine may help manage diarrhoea. When diarrhoea, fevers and night sweats occur, a need for glutamine is therefore indicated.

Dosage and contraindications

Experimental dosages for diarrhoea range from 5 gm to 40 gm a day.

Glutamine comes in pill and powdered form. The powdered form of glutamine should be dissolved in water or juice and taken immediately with food to increase absorption and reduce the chance of side-effects. It is taken three or more times a day.

Use under Medical Supervision:

  • People should not use glutamine when they have end stage liver or kidney disease and their protein intake is restricted.

Continued . . . see glutathione


Clark, R.H. et al. 2000. Nutritional treatment for acquired immunodeficiency virus-associated wasting using beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, glutamine, and arginine: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Parenter Enteral Nutr 24(3):133-139, 2000.

Herzenberg L.A. et al. 1997. Glutathione deficiency is associated with impaired survival in HIV disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94(5):1967-1972, 1997.

Noyer, C.M. et al. 1998. A double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study of glutamine therapy for abnormal intestinal permeability in patients with AIDS. American Journal of Gastroenterology 93(6):972-975, 1998.

Palamara, A.T. et al. 1996. Glutathione inhibits HIV replication by acting at late stages of the virus life cycle. AIDS Res Human Retroviruses 12(16):1537-1541, 1996.

Shabert, J.K. et al. 1999. Glutamine-antioxidant supplementation increases body cell mass in AIDS patients with weight loss: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial. Nutrition 15(11-12):860-864, 1999.


Continued . . . see glutathione


Always consult your doctor. This site is for information purposes and does not prescribe products. Confirm all details with a specialist (see disclaimer).

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