May 20, 2009

Glutamine: A new stomach ulcer treatment?

U.S. medical researchers say they've discovered popular glutamine supplements show promise in the treatment of stomach ulcers.

Since it's been known Helicobacter pylori bacteria are responsible for stomach ulcers, antibiotics have become the primary therapy for such conditions. But scientists say bacteria are growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

In the new study led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers found the amino acid glutamine might prove beneficial in offsetting gastric damage caused by H. pylori infection, therefore possibly serving as an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of stomach ulcers.

Our findings suggest that extra glutamine in the diet could protect against gastric damage caused by H. pylori, said Susan Hagen, an associate professor at the Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study.

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid naturally found in certain foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine -- the biologically active isomer of glutamine -- is widely used as a dietary supplement by body builders to increase muscle mass.

The study is reported in the Journal of Nutrition.