Update 7/228/20. Is glutamine safe if I have Celiac disease and am sensitive to gluten? I was recently asked this question and thought others might be wondering the same thing so let’s talk about it.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac (or Celiac disease) is a disorder where people have trouble digesting a protein called gluten which is often found in foods made from wheat, grain, rye, and barley. People who have Celiac are often said to be gluten-sensitive or gluten intolerant. When people eat foods that contain gluten, the protein triggers a response by the immune system, which damages the small intestine. This, in turn, reduces the absorption of food. As you can guess, Celiac can be devastating.
Just a few of the symptoms Celiac disorder symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain/abdominal bloating
- Weight loss
- Joint or bone pain
- Fatigue and anemia
Because of these and other symptoms, many people opt to eat a gluten-free diet.
What Is Glutamine
Glutamine is a popular amino acid. Because glutamine sounds like gluten, some athletes and health-conscious individuals who are gluten-sensitive wonder if they can use this amino acid as a supplement.
Glutamine is one of the amino acids that make up the gluten protein but both are not the same. One big difference is that we make glutamine. As such, it's classified as a non-essential amino acid.
Conversely, the human body does not make gluten.
Because of this difference, glutamine supplements are unlikely to produce the same symptoms as eating foods that contain gluten. That said, what makes this topic confusing for some is that about 40% of the amino acids in gliadin (one of the proteins that make up gluten) is glutamine.
What about Glutamine Peptides?
I want to make the distinction between the amino acid L glutamine and glutamine peptides. In theory, glutamine peptides (small chains of glutamine proteins) may elicit celiac symptoms if you are gluten sensitive if the peptides are derived from wheat or other gluten-containing foods.
In theory, the amino acid should not have the same effect. That said if you are sensitive to gluten, start supplementation with less than recommended for the first week to see what your symptoms might be. To be extra safe, use protein supplements that state they are “gluten-free” if you have a gluten intolerance.
Can Glutamine Help Celiac?
Some people with Celiac disease have said that glutamine helps reduce some symptoms, while others say they are sensitive to the amino acid. According to Marjorie Geisner, RD, while in theory, glutamine may help some people, “when in doubt, leave it out.”
Remember that glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. You and I make this stuff! Yes, under some circumstances, the amino acid may help bolster the immune systems of those engaged in hard-core exercise, most people do not work out enough to benefit from glutamine supplements.
See the review of glutamine for more insights.
Has anybody found something else besides l glutamine too use for leaky gut,my stomach won’t let me use the l glutamine. break out in a rash on throat.
If you are serious about healing your leaky gut, you should read the book “Eat Dirt” by Dr Josh Axe. His website is draxe.com
Here is Eat Dirt on Amazon
I also did a quick search and turned up this stuff on leaky gut from Chris Kressors website:
For leaky gut take glycine and collagen, also digestive enzymes are very helpful. Do not take glutamine if you have had a lot of glutamine in the diet: cereals, tomatoes, pumpkin family veggies like butternut squash or courgettes and veggies generally, also dairy has quite a lot of glutamine. When you get your balance you will be able to eat everythimg.
Joe Cannon says
Interesting stuff, thanks Sany. Hea you seen improvements in your leaky gut when you avoided those foods or took glycine and collagen?
I haven`t got leaky gut. My interest in all discussions whether it is a leaky gut or thyroid or diabetes is professional.
Joe Cannon says
Thanks, Sonia; it’s interesting what the person says about glycine. In some circles, glycine is considered an anti-aging amino acid. Heres my review on it
Funny. I have celiacs disease and I actually take L-glutamine when I get glutened. It helps me. It stops my heart palpatiions and upset stomach. A lot of people with celiacs disease take it to help with being glutened. I also take fish oil. You have to be careful with fish oil and take a good quality pill that isn’t filled with crap. Hope this helps.
Josephine, yes it does help. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad glutamine is helping you 🙂
I had same problem with airborne. ..I avoid all glutamates
are probiotics with glutamine safe for gluten sensitive people?
Erica, good question and Im not sure. That might be a question to run past a registered dietitian. If you are healthy I don’t think you need glutamine because you make it naturally and the the research shows it might help “athletes” and really sick people. If your thinking about a probiotic supplement I’d choose one without glutamine because odds are its less expensive
I bought glutamine (L-glutamine) from Optimum Nutrition. I had one capsule per day during 2 days, this was one week ago. I noticed a small read rash in my skin. It went away in 2 days. Then yesterday I took another capsule and today I felt stomach pain and this time two rashes appeared. I am not sure if it is the glutamine, for I am also taking whey protein (gluten-free). I stopped taking the Glutamine and will consult the manufacturer. If I ever decide to give it one more try I will pay very close attention to any minimal reaction.
Hi,I work in sport and my parther gave me l- glutamine.I am gluten sensitive and after taking this I suffered stomach cramps and the inevitable running to the loo and headaches so,no,would not reccommend this supplement for anyone who is coeliac or gluten sensitive
Giselle, thanks for your words.
Thanks Noi, my niece is gluten sensitive so its for her I wrote that piece about gluten in glutamine supplements. I liked your website by the way – and the story of how you got your name 😉
Thanks for this great info on glutamine! I’m a Celiac who definitely has trouble with glutamine, so I thought I’d share my story here in case it could help someone else…
The nutritionist that’s been helping me for the last year and a half (and has been totally invaluable in sorting out my gluten and dairy free diet!) put me on glutamine that specifically said “Gluten-Free” on the bottle. So I took it as she directed and immediately got some discomfort. But she’d been right for so many other things, I kept taking it for 6 days! Finally, the pain built and built until it felt so bad that it was almost like there was a “hole” being “burned” into my body in this one particular spot. I stopped taking the Glutamine but it took almost 4 months for that ‘hole” to heal!
So I’d have to say that if you feel any kind of pain or discomfort when you take anything with glutamine in it – even if it says gluten-free – then STOP taking it immediately!
Thanks again, Joe, for sharing this great info! It’s good to know that other people report sensitivity to it as well – that I’m not the only one out there!
Thank you for sharing. I, too, am gluten intolerant and started taking fish oil/gingko with glutamine about two weeks ago. Everything else I ate had been gluten free. I developed stomach pain, bloating and a dull, heavy ache in my stomach as if I had swallowed a brick.
Your answer has confirmed for me what I suspected about the ‘glutamine’ being the culprit and the query in my own mind was what led me to look it up and read your column. Your experience and information was very valuable and much appreciated. Jayne C.
Jayne, you are very welcome. I’m happy I was able to help. About the gingko, for what its worth, I dont think its something that’s needed. It get a lot of publicity for helping memory but I’m not impressed with the research. Just my 2 cents 🙂
Becky, good question I’m not sure. you can contact the Airborne company and ask where they get their glutamine from. I’ve never heard anything about Airborne and celiac disorder. If you ever hear anything about this I’d be very interested.
I woke up with an ear ache today, so I took an Airborne tablet. Later, I had stomach cramps and gluten-sensitivity symptoms. I attributed it to un-intentional gluten contamination. After lunch, I took another tablet. This time I had a full reaction—like I had eaten wheat. The only thing different about today was the Airborne, which contains a tiny amount of Glutamine. It’s impossible to tell from the label if it is the peptide type that can be derived from wheat. Maybe it’s not the Glutamine, but nothing else on the label looked suspicious. Do you have any insights on why it made me so sick?
Heather Kelly says
Glutamine can be processed either by using wheat or shellfish as a base ingredient. I only take L-Glutamine derived from crustaceans. It is much more expensive and perhaps Airborne use the wheat based Glutamine?
Heather, thanks for the heads up and I do hope the glutamine is helping you.