Use of L-Glutamine to Prevent Neuropathy in Cancer Patients
When a patient receives a diagnosis of cancer, it is a traumatic and upsetting event. Even at the very early stages, cancer treatments are likely to cause a host of unpleasant side effects. One side effect that is very common is a condition called neuropathy, and recent studies suggest that supplementing the amino acid L-glutamine can prevent neuropathy in cancer patients.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a very common condition that can occur as a complication of a variety of medical conditions. Simply put, neuropathy is nerve damage. The human body has a complex system of nerves that allow us to control our muscles and experience sensations. It also governs certain bodily functions. The nervous system governs our sensory perception.
There are several different types of neuropathy, characterized by the parts of the nervous system they affect:
- When sensory nerves – the nerves that allow us to experience sensations – are affected by neuropathy, it can cause numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness, especially in the hands or feet.
- When motor nerves – the nerves that allow us to control the body’s movements – are affected by neuropathy, it can cause weakness in the hands and feet.
- When autonomic nerves – the nerves that control bodily systems such as digestion – are affected by neuropathy, it can cause changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, and increased perspiration.
The most common kind of neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which is typified by tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. This is the type of neuropathy most commonly experienced by cancer patients.
Neuropathy in Cancer Patients
There are two different reasons why cancer patients may experience neuropathy.
- Certain types of cancer, including lymphoma and multiple myeloma, may cause neuropathy as a symptom of the disease itself.
- Patients who receive chemotherapy treatments may experience neuropathy as a side effect of treatment.
Chemotherapy treatments can be life-saving for cancer patients, and yet it is undeniable that the powerful chemicals that make up the treatment can cause some very unpleasant side effects. Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells, which tend to grow rapidly and steal nutrients and resources from healthy cells in the body. However, chemotherapy treatments cannot be targeted to attack only cancerous cells, and that means that healthy cells in the body are damaged by them as well, including nerve cells.
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms can range from mild (faint tingling in the hands and feet) to severe (pain and strong tingling). The key to preventing neuropathy is to find a way to protect the delicate nerve cells from damage during chemotherapy, and recent studies suggest that there may be a way to do exactly that.
L-Glutamine as a Treatment for Neuropathy
L-glutamine is one of twenty amino acids that act as the building blocks of protein. While L-glutamine is naturally abundant in our bodies, evaluations of cancer patients suggest that many people who have cancer end up with a deficiency of glutamine. One potential reason for the deficiency is that cancer cells steal glutamine, which plays an important role both in building cells and cell repair, from healthy cells in the body. A deficiency of glutamine makes it difficult for healthy cells in the body to protect themselves from damage.
It appears that the answer may be to give cancer patients a supplement of L-glutamine so that their bodies have enough to fight back against the damaging effects of chemotherapy. The results of some animal studies suggest that supplementation with glutamine can help the body to repair nerve damage, and three recent studies using human cancer patients back up that theory.
The first study examined 12 women who were undergoing treatment for late-stage breast cancer with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel. The women in the study group were given 10 grams of glutamine each day for the four days following their treatment with paclitaxel. The control group received a placebo. The results showed that only 8% of the women who received glutamine experienced symptoms of neuropathy, while 40% of the women in the control group did.
The second study looked at 86 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who were being treated with the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin. The patients in the study group received 15 grams of glutamine twice a day for the seven days following treatment, while the control group took a placebo. The study showed that the patients who took glutamine experienced less oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy that the control group.
The third study focused on patients who were preparing for bone marrow transplant using paclitaxel. The study group received 10 grams of glutamine three times per day for four days after receiving paclitaxel, and the results showed that the patients who took glutamine experienced fewer symptoms of neuropathy than the control group.
There is certainly reason to believe that future studies will support the idea that supplementation with glutamine is an effective way of preventing neuropathy in cancer patients.
How to Take L-Glutamine
In all of the studies listed above, the patients took glutamine in a powder form, mixed with water. There is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that taking glutamine orally is the best option, as a liquid suspension is the ideal form to allow the body to absorb glutamine efficiently.
Healios Glutamine Complex is a ground-breaking formula that arose from the practical observations and research of Dr. Peter M. Anderson. While his initial research concentrated on using glutamine to help prevent and treat mucositis, another common side effect of cancer treatment, the formula he created can help prevent neuropathy, too. Blending glutamine with synergistic ingredients, Healios Glutamine Complex is easy for patients to use, and unlike some other glutamine treatments, has a pleasant taste. It comes in two flavors, grape and orange. When you order Healios, it comes with a convenient measuring scoop and mixing bottle, so there is no guesswork involved. You will always get the proper dose of glutamine when you need it.
To learn more about Healios Glutamine Complex and order your supply, click here to visit our store.