If you are a cancer patient or if you are currently caring for one, you are probably familiar with oral mucositis or cancer mouth sores. While this side effect isn’t entirely preventable due to the damage caused by chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments, there are steps you can take to reduce the severity and duration of cancer mouth sores. One option is to supplement your diet with glutamine – a naturally occurring amino acid that plays a significant role in the body.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine or L-Glutamine is an amino acid commonly found in protein-rich foods such as meats, eggs, beans, dairy products, and in some vegetables. This amino acid is usually abundant in the body and it plays an essential role in both the growth of new cells and the repair of damaged cells.
Is L-Glutamine Good for Mouth Sores?
Glutamine has been known to help with gut function, muscle repair, and recovery after surgery or during times of stress. Glutamine also plays a significant role in the maintenance of the intestinal mucosa; the layer that lines your digestive tract.
Can Cancer Patients Take Glutamine?
Yes, cancer patients can take glutamine and is usually recommended because patients often have low levels of glutamine, which can lead to fatigue, weakness, and weight loss. Glutamine studies show that when taken by mouth, this amino acid can reduce the the severity of oral mucositis and help patients maintain quality of life.
How Are Cancer Mouth Sores and Glutamine Related?
The lining covering your mouth and digestive tract is very sensitive, and the cells that make up that lining are frequently affected by cancer treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy. These treatments also make it hard for patients to keep a normal diet where they can maintain adequate levels of glutamine and other nutrients. These factors increase the body’s need for more glutamine than it can produce or absorb in order to keep up with normal body functions, including the cell repair needed to heal cancer mouth sores.
Glutamine Can Help You Manage Mouth Sores During Cancer Treatment
Doctors and other healthcare providers have long looked at glutamine supplementation as a way of helping cancer patients keep the cells lining their mouths and throats healthy and avoid mouth sores. To get glutamine directly to the damaged cells, doctors often recommend that cancer patients take it by mouth, in a solution that they can drink.
Swishing and, if possible, swallowing glutamine that is suspended in liquid puts it in direct contact with cells lining the mouth, throat and esophagus. Whatever glutamine those cells absorb can then be used to repair the damage done by cancer treatment. Many studies have shown that taking glutamine in this way makes oral mucositis less severe in cancer patients at risk for developing mouth sores.
Should I Start Taking Glutamine To Help With Cancer Mouth Sores?
While doctors and other healthcare providers recognize the benefits of glutamine for mucositis management, the main challenge has been absorption. If you are interested in trying glutamine to help manage your cancer treatment mouth sores, then Healios could be an option for you. The ingredients found in Healios’ formulation have been shown to boost uptake of glutamine by the cells lining the mouth and throat at more than 100-fold compared to solutions with glutamine alone.
If you or a loved one are going through cancer treatment, ask your physician about Healios or other types glutamine for mucositis treatment.