EDMONTON, CANADA. Infectious diseases initiated by virus, parasite or bacteria are common worldwide and tend to affect people with compromised immune systems to a greater extent than they affect healthy people. There is growing evidence that the two amino acids, glutamine and arginine, are essential to a healthy immune system and that supplementation can be highly beneficial in patients with infectious diseases.
Researchers at the University of Alberta have just released a major review of the current knowledge
regarding glutamine, arginine and the immune system. Burn injuries have been found to cause a massive
deficiency in both glutamine and arginine and supplementation has been found highly beneficial in burn
patients. Cancer patients are very prone to infections due to the immunosuppressive effects of radiation,
chemotherapy, and surgery. There is some evidence that glutamine supplementation is beneficial for
cancer patients, but the benefits of arginine have not been proven. HIV patients have highly compromised
immune systems, but whether supplementation with glutamine or arginine is of benefit is still unclear.
Surgery and trauma result in various degrees of immune system dysfunction and supplementation with
glutamine and arginine has been found beneficial in preventing infections and reducing the length of hospital
stays. Serious athletes in vigorous training suffer an increased incidence of infections due to an immune
system overload caused by the physical stress of intense exercise. The researchers conclude that there is
not enough evidence that healthy athletes participating in high-intensity training will benefit from
glutamine/arginine supplementation. People who suffer from chronic or acute infections, on the other hand,
may benefit significantly from supplementation with at least 12 grams/day each of glutamine and arginine.