Glutamine - Any Risks? Mood Impact?

Hey All-


I took some glutamine for the first time (10 g in water) about 2 weeks ago... some quick research and review of bulletproof resources say that glutamine is good for just about everything. Help heal the gut, help with microbiome repair, help when you're not feeling well, help with fatigue, etc.


So if it's good for so many things, are there any risks for taking glutamine semi-frequently? Is it just a matter of cost?


I'm not planning on taking more than 10 g as needed, but I definitely want to try and understand what kind of bio-hacking lever I'm using and what's on the other end of that lever...


Here's the background... I'll try and impart the factual details in case anyone has any insights.


I tried taking some theanine (suntheanine 150 mg) and found that it significantly impacted my mood. Specifically I was feeling empty, hollow... I would otherwise call it depressed, except that it didn't cause sadness so much as a general feeling of emptiness.


Google and wikipedia indicated it might be a matter of dose, or that I needed to take it with caffeine to help balance out the theanine. Lowering the quantity of theanine did lessen the mood effect (but it was still there); having it with caffeine didn't seem to make much difference (I was very awake for the feeling of emptiness). I had taken theanine 4 or 5 times, each time similar results.


Wikpedia states that theanine works by binding to glutamate and glutamine receptors, so I theorized that maybe I was deficient in glutamine. It's an easy and low risk experiment, so I took 10 g of glutamine with water, several hours after having taken some theanine. In about 20 minutes my mood had improved dramatically.


I've consumed similar amounts of glutamine 2 additional times since then (at times when not taking theanine), and found general improvements in mood. Both times I might say I was mildly bored but certainly not feeling down or empty. After taking it I would subjectively say I just felt like I was in a better mood.



To round out my experiment I took some theanine yesterday (150 mg) to confirm the glutamine was the reason for mood improvement, potentially see how long or how quickly it would change my mood. To my surprise, the theanine did not have a negative impact on my mood. I took a 2nd theanine (2 hours later) expecting the higher quantity to surely have an impact. Still no negative impact on my mood, and I was feeling very relaxed as one would expect from theanine. (It was a relaxing evening for me, I figured I would just go to sleep early if needed.)



Now, I have a few theories about what happened. Here they are in no particular order:

  • I was glutamine deficient, or it was out of balance in some way. Rectifying that reset my physiology and now I react more normally to theanine.
  • My gut micro biome was out of whack and contributing to negative mood. Once I took glutamine a few times, with an improved micro biome I react more normally to theanine.
  • Glutamine does something else that I don't understand.
  • Theanine does something else that I don't understand.


Thus my question about taking glutamine as needed and if there are any risks associated. I don't plan on making glutamine one of my daily supplements, but plan to use it as needed, or if I notice my mood wanes. I also don't plan on taking theanine regularly until I understand more about what is going on.


As for things happening outside this little experiment... I follow the bulletproof diet for the most part. I eat lots of grass fed meat, lots of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, asparagus, sweet potatoes are my staples), 2-3 bulletproof coffees every morning, lots of grass fed butter. I exercise a couple times a week (HIIT), take basic supplements (D, K2, C, Mg, potassium) and use betaine HCL with meals. I've been sleeping well. I take activated charcoal as needed. To the best of my knowledge, all these things were not affecting the changes I saw from theanine or glutamine.


A reasonable person would ask why I kept taking theanine after having a negative side effect... besides being curious, I view it as a very useful clue. I also (broad, dangerous generalization) find different moods to be useful - both for variety and for exploring my thoughts and psyche.


If any other person would tell me about a side effect like this, I would unequivocally tell them to stop taking it immediately. But my rules for others apparently don't apply to me. And how would I use a curious and useful clue if I didn't explore what it meant?


Thanks in advance for any comments or insights.


  • Ive been taking both Glutamine and theanine for about 3 months everyday and couldn't be happier.


    I take my Theanine in the mornings mixed into my coffee. Can slightly tell what you call the "emptiness" but has never really bothered me. It actually helps with my morning meditation.


    The Glutamine on the other hand, i take right in the middle of my day. Usually with my protein shake and always 5 grams, never gone above that. cant really notice a diffrence except when im healing. since i started taking Glutamine my rest days have become shorter and shorter. I find myself less sore everytime i do a hard workout. Ive heard this is contributed to the glutamine, but i cant prove it. I may try 10g and see if there is diffrence.


    I also take another dose of Theanine at night before bed with my magnesium and potassium and usually just helps make me fall right to sleep.


    Hope this helps I'm no expert but have had positive effects with both these supps.

  • jcg3jcg3 ✭✭✭
    edited May 2015
  • I think there may be a possible issue with folks who are sensitive to excitatory neurotransmitters:



    I'd love to know if anyone knows more about this.

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  • jcg3jcg3 ✭✭✭
    edited May 2015

    A feeling of hollow or emptiness is more typical of a dopamine deficiency. In contrast, serotonin deficiencies would result in a feeling of sadness or melancholy. I'm not sure if other neurotransmitters would contribute to a feeling of empty/hollow.


    Theanine is supposed to improve dopamine levels, but a quick googling always said "elevated dopamine levels were measured after theanine" without any comment about why or how it would be generated. So there may be different types of reactions.


    I saw one (completely informal) comment on a doctor's website that glutamine turns into glutamate, which then modulates serotonin activity and increases extracellular dopamine. That could explain the glutamine --> feeling better if it was a dopamine deficiency. But take that with a grain of salt, I haven't found anything that explains the connection in more detail.


    [Sidebar: weird - I don't remember posting the question marks earlier... sorry.]

  • edited May 2015
    I might not be the one that push people to experiments with amino acids but Glutamine is one of the safer. Still, many types of cancer cells loves it so i would not take it all year long, rather cycle it.

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