Heartburn - Is Glutamine A Cure?


The relief and treatment of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD is a huge billion-dollar-a-year market, according to Tamas Bartfai, director of the Harold L. Dorris Neurological Research Center. Bartfai has had decades of experience as a consultant and executive in the Pharmaceutical industry, and has consulted with companies that are developing costly treatments for this common ailment.

With so much money being spent on medications to relieve heartburn and its companions, you would think at least one medication would be a cure. Sadly, this does not appear to be so. Heartburn medications seem to do nothing more than relieve symptoms. Some attempt to neutralize stomach acids. Others "turn off the pumps" that manufacture stomach acids.

The pharmaceutical community seems to offer nothing that will cure heartburn.

Glutamine for Heartburn

Glutamine for heartburn may be the answer. More specifically, L-glutamine for heartburn. L-glutamine for heartburn may not only be a cure, but be far less costly than other medications.

For example, In the U.S., L-glutamine can be purchased for about 5 cents per capsule. The prescription medication that "turns off the pumps" costs about $5.44 per capsule - at discount prices.

Why might glutamine be good for heartburn?

Cause of Heartburn

Heartburn appears to be a muscular problem.

Despite the pharmaceutical community's emphasis on acids, the real cause of heartburn is a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

A sphincter is a circular band of muscle like a ring around a body passageway or opening. If you were teaching children about a sphincter, you might place a ring around one finger to illustrate.

The task of every sphincter is to relax or tighten as needed to open or close a natural body opening or passageway. If you made your illustrative ring of elastic, you would tighten and relax the elastic to show sphincter action.

1. A cow's teat has a sphincter at the lower end. It relaxes to allow milk to flow, and tightens to stop the flow.

2. The human bladder has an involuntary sphincter at its neck. It relaxes to allow urine to flow, and tightens to stop the flow. A voluntary sphincter at the end of the urethra does the same.

3. An anal sphincter tightens to hold back waste, and relaxes to pass waste.

4. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach, and tightens to keep food and acid from flowing backward into the esophagus. It should prevent heartburn.

Weak Sphincter Problems

If the sphincter in any of the above becomes weak, problems can occur.

1. A milking machine can make a cow's sphincter remain relaxed for two hours. This allows bacteria to enter the teat, and can result in mastitis.

2. A weakness in the bladder sphincter can cause urine to leak against your will.

3. When the anal sphincter weakens, fecal incontinence can occur.

4. A weakness in the LES allows stomach acids to reflux, flow backward into the esophagus. This causes heartburn.

When sphincters other than the LES weaken and cause problems, attention is turned to strengthening the weak sphincter. The cow's sphincter is often subjected to cold after milking to tighten the muscle band. Exercise can tighten both weak bladder sphincters and weak anal sphincters. Biofeedback, electrical stimulation, and certain drugs also can be used to tighten these two sphincters.

Interestingly, none of these approaches seems to be used for the LES. Heartburn treatments address the symptoms, but neglect the weakened sphincter, which is the real problem.

Can Glutamine for Heartburn Help?

Glutamine for heartburn may be a solution.

Glutamine is an amino acid. Just as other amino acids are important constituents of proteins, so is glutamine. Glutamine occurs naturally in foods that are high in protein: beans, dairy products, fish, and red meat.

Glutamine as a supplement is used by weight lifters, body builders, and other athletes who want strong muscles. Glutamine as a supplement is also used to alleviate muscle cramps and pain, especially in older people. By replenishing the amino acids in the body, muscles are strengthened and pain relieved.

Glutamine has been shown to increase the body's ability to dispose of damaged cells, and produce new cells. Glutamine is a powerful antioxidant, too. As such, it helps protect body cells from free radicals. Glutamine heals mucous membranes, including the lining of the esophagus that is being damaged by heartburn.

It is thought by some that glutamine for heartburn might strengthen the LES, improving its ability to tighten properly. This might completely prevent heartburn, acid reflux, and even GERD.

Glutamine for heartburn could possibly be a partial, if not a total cure.

Until heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are understood and treated as the muscular problems they seem to be, physicians will continue to prescribe relief and treatments that address only the symptoms.

Disclaimer: The author does not sell glutamine in any form, nor will she profit from sales of glutamine for heartburn. The author is not a medical professional and offers this information for educational purposes only.

© 2007, Anna Hart. Anna herself lives with a husband who used to suffer heartburn frequently, and she empathizes with your problem. She invites you to read more of her articles about heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD at www.heartburnreliefblog.com. Anna continues to research and post regular information on that site. If you are interested in the possibilities of heartburn relief with potassium, please visit Anna now.

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