Do you struggle with alcohol cravings? Here’s one of the few supplements I recommend to manage these often painful moments that can cause us to relapse.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is in no way shape, or form the secret to long-term sobriety, and only a tool to diminish cravings and keep us from de-railing off the train tracks of a sober life.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning we produce it naturally, but in times of higher demand, we may require more through food or supplementation to meet our body’s demand.
Higher demand may relate to increased stress, physical injury or in a more relevant sense, excessive consumption of alcohol.
Glutamine serves many purposes, with some primary roles in helping towards maintaining gut barrier function and integrity, and providing an energy source for intestinal and immune cells.
The Role of Glutamine in Curbing Alcohol Cravings
Alcohol Depletes the Natural Reserve of Glutamine
When we consume alcohol, our body can use up it’s natural reserves of glutamine.
Once we stop drinking, our body can sometimes go into overdrive to replenish these levels, which can often result in an increase in alcohol cravings.
This mechanism can also be triggered by something else, which involves our gut bacteria.
Alcohol Cravings and Gut Bacteria
Glutamine has the power to regulate the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut. Specifically, it can modulate the ratio of firmicutes-to-bacterodetes. To put it simply, firmicutes are bacteria that thrive on sugar.
Firmicutes are responsible for causing sugar cravings, which are often satisfied by drinking alcohol since most alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar.
But wait – Alcohol (or ethanol) isn’t a sugar?
You’re right, alcohol isn’t sugar, although we can get sugar alcohols (such as xylitol, erythritol, etc).
Alcohol actually stops our liver from releasing glycogen (our body’s natural sugar stores) into the blood. This causes a drop in blood sugar (Sharmin et al., 2013), and over a small period of time, can leave our firmicutes to send signals of cravings to our brain.
Where Can I Buy Good Glutamine?
While I could list off a dozen brands, simply sourcing a good pure source of Glutamine can be most effective. Some examples could be:
- Pure Glutamine by Bulk Nutrients – This can be picked up easily from Amazon.
- Glutamine by Muscle Tech also does an affordable Glutamine, so recommend this one too!
I could spout off an endless list here, so i’ve landed on two that are good quality and affordable. Alternatively, you can pop into your local Health Shop or Supplements store and find it there too.
Dosage and Administration of Glutamine
The best way to dose with Glutamine is a simple 5g per day, this should help keep cravings at bay and also do wonders for your gut and immune system.
Learn more about the benefits of supporting your immune system in sobriety here.
Some studies do recommend you work up to 0.25g/kg body weight per day, this can be an optional tactic if you find the 5g dose isn’t helping.
Always keep in mind though, you should be incorporating other long-term solutions such as these and not just Glutamine alone. Supplementing with Glutamine for alcohol cravings is a tool, not a one-time-fix-all solution.
Frequently Asked Questions with Glutamine
Glutamine is an amino acid, a building block of protein, important for our body. L-Glutamine is just a specific form of glutamine that our body uses. When people talk about glutamine in food or supplements, they’re usually referring to L-Glutamine. The “L” part just specifies its shape, but in everyday language, L-Glutamine and glutamine mean pretty much the same thing for our health.
Can Glutamine replace professional treatment?
No, Glutamine should only ever be used as part of a broader recovery plan, and that includes professional guidance.
Is Glutamine safe to consume?
Glutamine is generally well tolerated with little to no known side effects. It’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional though when starting any new supplement.
How long does it take for Glutamine to reduce cravings?
The time can vary for individuals, but some may notice a reduction in cravings within a few days of supplementation, and some may notice it much faster.
Through its ability to kill off bacteria in our gut known as firmicutes, we can use a simple, fairly beneficial amino acid to support our sobriety and look after our body in the process.
Looking for another viable option for managing withdrawal symptoms associated with substance abuse? Read more here on how N-Acetylcysteine may help.
When we use these “quick hack” tactics to push us further into sobriety, we can live an addiction-free life, without limits.
Kim, M., & Kim, H. (2017). The roles of glutamine in the intestine and its implication in intestinal diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(5), 1051. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18051051
Sharmin, F., Wakelin, S., Huygens, F., & Hargreaves, M. (2013). Firmicutes dominate the bacterial taxa within sugar-cane processing plants. Scientific Reports, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep03107
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All the best in health,
Former Drinker & Clinical Nutritionist
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.