Oral glutamine for stomatitis

Ellen Sweeney, RD
Last Modified: August 10, 2007

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I am presently receiving topotecan for a recurrence of ovarian cancer. I developed mouth sores during my last treatment cycle. I've read that oral glutamine can decrease the severity and duration of stomatitis. Are there any reasons why I should not take oral glutamine during my next treatment cycle?  

Answer

Ellen Sweeney, RD, Clinical Nutrition Specialist at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

There have been several good studies indicating reduction in the degree of stomatitis associated with cancer treatments when oral glutamine supplementation is used. It doesn't always work but maybe worth trying. It considered safe and non-toxic but do discuss it with your physician before using. The best results seen in research studies are when oral glutamine "swish and swallow" is started 2 weeks prior to treatment, continued through treatment and for 2 weeks following treatment. The glutamine should be pure L-glutamine form and not contain any antioxidants. Some preparations have antioxidants added which may be contraindicated with treatment. The usual dosage in 10 grams glutamine powder three times per day (for a total of 30 grams) mixed into your favorite beverage, swished around your mouth, and swallowed.