When we say peripheral neuropathy, it is the condition of the peripheral nerves in which they are damaged. The peripheral nerves are those that are not in the brain or in the spinal cord. The peripheral nerves serve to send information from other parts of the body to the brain and to the spinal cord and at the same time receive messages from the brain and spinal cord.
Peripheral neuropathy may arise as a cause of diabetes or cancer treatment accompanied with chemotherapy. There are some studies that proved that glutamine, an amino acid or protein building block can lessen the damage of the nerves during chemotherapy. Let us then take a look at that claim after reading more about L-glutamine and peripheral neuropathy.
Identification of Peripheral Nerves
There are three kinds of peripheral nerves which are the motor nerves, sensory nerves and autonomic nerves. The motor nerves control the skeletal muscles while the sensory nerves transmit information from the different senses. Lastly, the autonomic nerves are responsible in controlling autonomic processes like breathing, digestion and the functions of both heart and the gland.
Role of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves of all the three groups as mentioned above but symptoms may vary according to the types of nerves affected. For motor neuropathy, symptoms are muscle weakness, inability to control major muscle groups and also this can lead to cramps. Sensory neuropathy symptoms are tingling in the arms and numbness while autonomic neuropathy can lead to a disturbance in the autonomic processes like an irregular heartbeat. All these three types of neuropathy are related with severe pain.
Cancer Treatment and Neuropathy
Some of the chemicals that are being used to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and head and neck cancer are bortezomib, paclitaxel and cisplatin. All of these chemicals interfere with the different aspects of cell division of cancer cells. About 30-40% among the cancer patients who are treated with these chemicals experienced some degree of neuropathy which is usually sensory neuropathy or motor neuropathy. Neuropathy causes the patients to weaken that’s why they stop their treatment or may require lower doses. This action minimizes their chance of recovery.
Benefits of L-Glutamine
Glutamine has many benefits for the body functioning. It strengthens the immune system when it weakens during an intense exercise or stress. It repairs damaged tissues as well as cells after an injury or a surgery. The amino acids which results from the muscle breakdown are transferred to the area of injury to protect the body against infections, to support the function of vital organs and to help in repairing wounds. Almost 1/3 of the amino acids transferred from the muscles to the area of injury are glutamine.
L-glutamine and Neuropathy
According to the studies published in the “Clinical Cancer Research” in May 2001 and “Clinical Oncology” June 2005, it was confirmed that L-glutamine is effective in preventing as well as reducing the extent of peripheral neuropathy during a chemotherapy treatment. In the first study, participants took 10 grams of L-glutamine three times a day or a placebo day after their first chemotherapy treatment. They found out after their treatment that the participants who took glutamine experienced less severe conditions of neuropathy. On the second study, the researchers confirmed these effects of glutamine on peripheral neuropathy during chemotherapy. There is significant reduction in muscle weakness and numbness in participants who were given L-glutamine.
L-glutamine and peripheral neuropathy are bonded together by the fact that the supplement may help with the condition. Nonetheless, it is still vital to consult an expert on this matter.