How to Use L-Glutamine for Alcohol Cravings

alcohol cravings

In this article, I will discuss how to stop alcohol cravings by taking L-glutamine, which is an amino acid supplement that you can get inexpensively.

Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll learn about:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • How to stop alcohol cravings naturally
  • L-glutamine and other supplements for alcohol cravings
  • And much more!

When I quit drinking, I experienced alcohol cravings that lasted for many months. They were often so bad that I’d get up in the middle of the night and eat whatever I could find in my kitchen – potato chips, pints of ice cream, even spoonfuls of jelly – to keep myself from thinking about alcohol.

Knowing what I now know about the power of L-glutamine to stop alcohol cravings, it’s frustrating for me to think about how easy it might have been for me to solve this problem! Ultimately, I did discover L-glutamine during post-acute withdrawal – but much later than I should have.

After reading this article, you’ll know how stop to alcohol cravings and start the process of body repair much quicker than I did.

Overview of L-Glutamine For Alcohol Cravings

Before we discuss how to stop alcohol cravings with L-glutamine, we will review the various functions of this amino acid and its many benefits for people in alcohol recovery.

L-glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that your body can produce L-glutamine on its own, but because such large amounts are required during times of stress and disease, supplementation is often recommended to avoid deficiency.

Chronic alcohol exposure severely depletes levels of L-glutamine through several different mechanisms:

  • Alcoholics derive more calories from alcohol instead of foods rich in L-glutamine
  • Alcohol inhibits L-glutamine synthesis at the cellular level
  • Alcohol flushes out nutrients like L-glutamine because it is a diuretic
  • Alcohol damages the gut, preventing proper absorption of L-glutamine

The primary reason that L-glutamine can be used to stop alcohol cravings is that it can be converted into glucose for the brain without raising insulin levels.

The problem with relying on sugar to quench alcohol cravings is that sugar prompts the release of insulin, which robs the bloodstream of sugar and leads to escalating sugar and/or alcohol cravings.

This vicious cycle can lead to alcohol relapse along with diseases like diabetes and cancer.

It’s important to understand that alcohol is a highly refined sugar. The alcoholic brain craves alcohol because it “knows” three things very well:

  • Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach lining much faster than other calories
  • Alcohol provides energy for the brain despite its toxic effects
  • Alcohol keeps the brain’s calming chemicals in check and prevents hyper-excitability

The alcoholic brain therefore prefers alcohol to other forms of calories. In the absence of alcohol, however, the brain will settle for the temporary satisfaction of a sugar high.

It’s not a coincidence that people who stop drinking tend to consume large amounts of soda, candy, or other sweets in a subconscious attempt to keep their cravings for alcohol at bay.

By consuming L-glutamine, many people can eliminate alcohol cravings while avoiding the roller coaster of hypoglycemia that so many alcoholics succumb to.

Moreover, supplementing with L-glutamine offers a host of other benefits for people in alcohol recovery:

  • Improves brain function
  • Reduces depression, anxiety, and insomnia
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Repairs cells in the gut
  • Repairs skeletal muscles
  • Aids in fat loss
  • Aid in liver detoxification

We will now proceed to discuss some of the mechanisms by which L-glutamine helps to stop alcohol cravings and aids in biochemical repair after quitting drinking.

Alcohol Cravings And L-Glutamine Pharmacology

alcohol cravings

As we already discussed, L-glutamine can be converted into glucose without causing a spike in insulin levels. It can therefore be used to fuel brain cells and reduce alcohol and sugar cravings.

Technically, L-glutamine is first converted in the kidneys into glutamic acid, which is then converted into glucose in the brain.

Glutamic acid performs two other functions that can enhance alcohol detox:

  • Glutamic acid neutralizes ammonia, a toxic byproduct formed when alcohol damages cells and breaks down their proteins – thereby protecting brain function and memory.
  • Glutamic acid is a building block of glutathione, which is the liver’s most potent detoxification compound (it is produced in phase two liver detoxification)

alcohol cravings

Note: More L-glutamine does NOT necessarily equal higher levels of glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter suppressed by alcohol and which rebounds to dangerous levels during alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

I will try my best here to shed some light on the intricate relationship between L-glutamine, glutamic acid, and the excitatory neurotransmitter known as glutamate:

  • Glutamic acid is a building block of both GABA and glutamate – respectively, the brain’s primary calming chemical and a stress chemical that is also required in balanced levels.
  • Glutamic acid converts first into glutamate and then into GABA, given adequate levels of vitamin B6 and magnesium.
  • L-glutamine will be used to restore GABA levels in the case of alcohol cravings, as it will be used to manufacture whichever neurotransmitter is too low.

alcohol cravings

While the above is a bit complex, the key points to take away from this section are that:

  • L-glutamine satisfies the brain’s need for glucose, stopping alcohol and sugar cravings
  • L-glutamine helps to facilitate detoxification via its effects on ammonia and glutathione
  • L-glutamine helps to create a feeling of calm by increasing GABA activity

This does not mean that L-glutamine is enough by itself to combat serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In order to prevent seizures in severe alcoholics, medications like Ativan must be used.

People with mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms that go beyond alcohol cravings can benefit from learning about kratom, phenibut, or .

The bottom line is that many people who have quit drinking and are experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms will be able to reduce alcohol cravings right away by taking L-glutamine!

L-Glutamine Dosage For Alcohol Cravings

Because of biochemical individuality, it’s important to determine your level of tolerance for L-glutamine before you take large doses of this amino acid.

People who use L-glutamine to stop alcohol cravings often begin with 1,000 mg and take up to 2,000 mg or more per day until the cravings stop.

Some people have even used up to 5,000 mg per day, but care should be taken to avoid side effects.

While L-glutamine is very safe, side effects from consuming too much L-glutamine can include headaches, nausea, and sweating. These side effects can be mitigated by beginning with a low dose and working your way up to an effective dose.

While I haven’t had alcohol cravings in years, I still take L-glutamine during periods of hard training to help my body repair from workouts.

alcohol cravings

I’ve experienced great results, including mood improvements, when I take NOW L-Glutamine.

It’s pretty amazing that you can put an end to your sudden alcohol cravings with a supplement that’s so cheap!

You can also up your intake of L-glutamine by eating foods like meat, beans, cabbage, and leafy green vegetables like parsley and spinach. However, these sources will not give you enough L-glutamine to stop alcohol cravings that come on suddenly.

A we will discuss, however, learning how to stop alcohol cravings naturally is just the first step toward repairing your brain-body system and transcending addiction forever.

Scientific Research On Alcohol Cravings Reduction

alcohol cravings

Much of what we know about the relationship between L-glutamine and alcohol cravings is based on anecdotal evidence from people who have used L-glutamine themselves to eliminate cravings.

However, several scientific studies support the use of glutamine to stop alcohol cravings as well as sugar cravings:

  • In a 1957 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, alcoholics receiving at least 5,000 milligrams of L-glutamine stopped having alcohol cravings while alcoholics who received a placebo continued to suffer from cravings (source)
  • In a study of alcoholics, L-glutamine along with two other amino acids (D-phenylalanine and 5-HTP) alleviated alcohol withdrawal symptoms including alcohol cravings (source)
  • In a 1955 study of alcoholic rats, L-glutamine supplementation reduced alcohol consumption by 35% (source)
  • In a 1998 study of alcoholic rats, L-glutamine injections reduced alcohol consumption significantly (source)
  • In a study of mice with hypoglycemia, L-glutamine proved superior to glucose for eliminating sugar cravings (source)
  • L-glutamine suppresses pro-inflammatory signaling pathways in the gut, which may help to account for its efficacy in treating leaky gut (source)

The following passage was written by Joan Matthews Larson, who operates a clinic in Minnesota that has successfully treated thousands of alcoholics with nutritional repair:

I have noticed that HRC clients complain of a return of cravings within forty-eight hours when they neglect to refill their glutamine supplies. You can quench a sudden desire for alcohol by opening a 500-milligram glutamine capsule and letting it dissolve in your mouth. (Substances placed under the tongue are absorbed directly into the bloodstream immediately.) Glutamine is one of our clients’ favorite nutrients. (source)

Chris Scott’s Tip – Combine L-Glutamine With Calm Support

In addition to taking L-glutamine, you can reduce your cravings and begin to repair your body from toxic alcohol by taking an ingenious supplement called Calm Support.

how to stop alcohol cravings

Calm Support contains high quality nutrients and herbs that are very effective for alcohol cravings.

These ingredients cost a lot of money when purchased separately, and I discuss many of them in my article on the best supplements for alcohol detox and recovery:

  • B-Vitamins – Highly depleted by alcoholism and necessary for energy and cognition
  • Vitamin C – Restores cellular health damaged by alcohol consumption
  • Magnesium – Supports relaxation, sleep, and nervous system functioning
  • Zinc – Restores the immune system and hormonal balance after alcoholism
  • L-Tryptophan – Amino acid that helps with relaxation and sleep
  • NAC – Amino acid that detoxifies the liver and the lungs
  • Valerian Root – Herb that reduces insomnia
  • Phyllanthus – Herb that detoxifies the liver
  • Mucuna Pruriens – Herb that restores dopamine in the brain
  • L-Theanine – Amino acid that improves anxiety

A number of my coaching clients have been able to quit drinking with the help of L-glutamine and the ingredients in Calm Support!

You are what you consume, and it’s very important to have your nutritional bases covered so that your other strategies for recovery can be given a chance to work.

Further Considerations For Stopping Alcohol Cravings

Chronic alcohol use damages the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to problems absorbing nutrients including L-glutamine. It can take weeks or months for an alcoholic to restore gut health, even with a proper diet and nutritional supplementation.

While L-glutamine itself can help to repair the gut lining for alcoholics, I highly recommend taking probiotics (“good bacteria” that dwell in your gut) and digestive enzymes. These will help to restore balance to your gut and increase the absorption of everything you consume.

You can find digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements on Amazon or in your local grocery store. You can also help to repair your digestive system by consuming the following foods:

  • Fresh Papaya – contains enzymes that help you digest
  • Aloe Vera – contains compounds that protect the gut lining
  • Ginger – contains anti-inflammatory compounds and eases digestion
  • Kombucha or Kimchi – great source of probiotics
  • Greek Yogurt or Kefir – great source of probiotics

how to stop alcohol cravings
My gut detox meal of papaya, fresh aloe vera, ginger, and kombucha.

If you take L-glutamine along with Calm Support and integrate some of the above recommendations to repair your gut health, then you’ll be well on your way to enabling your brain-body system to enjoy life without alcohol!

The following resources can also help you a TON on your mission of self-discovery without alcohol:


I hope this article has provided you with useful information on how to stop alcohol cravings, and especially on how to use L-glutamine to take your alcohol recovery to the next level!

If you have any questions about how to stop alcohol cravings, please post them in the comment box below.

Hierarchy of Alcohol Recovery


Does alcohol deplete L glutamine?

It is often said that alcohol “dampens” L-Glutamine. In fact, alcohol leads to a deficiency in important compounds that L-Glutamine helps to produce. L-Glutamine is required to produce both GABA and glutamate, brain chemicals required to maintain a balance between feeling calm and energized. Heavy drinking causes an imbalance in these brain chemicals as well as a deficiency in blood levels of L-Glutamine.

How do you take L glutamine for cravings?

L-Glutamine can be taken in dosages of 500 mg up to 5 grams at a time for cravings. For the fastest relief, buy a powder version or break open a capsule and let the powder dissolve under your tongue. If you’re in early recovery from quitting drinking, be sure to check out other supplements for natural alcohol detox.

Is glutamine bad for your liver?

L-Glutamine is widely used and generally safe in dosages of up to 30 grams per day. While L-Glutamine has been shown to be helpful for liver function, people with liver or kidney conditions should talk to their doctors before using L-Glutamine. Supplements like milk thistle can also be used to help to support liver health.


  • Chris Scott

    Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

  • Dr. Rebeca Eriksen

    Dr. Rebeca Eriksen is the Nutritional Consultant for Fit Recovery. She has a PhD in Nutritional Genetics from Imperial College London, and over ten years of clinical experience designing custom nutritional repair regimens for patients recovering from alcohol addiction. In addition to her work at the exclusive Executive Health clinic in Marbella, Spain, she helps to keep Fit Recovery up to date with emerging research.

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The information we provide while responding to comments is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The responses to comments on are designed to support, not replace, medical or psychiatric treatment. Please seek professional care if you believe you may have a condition.

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7 months ago

The kombucha recommendation should come with an asterisk, at the very least. A lot of kombucha contains alcohol even before it’s shipped. Far more concerning: Because the fermentation process is still in action when you buy kombucha, even “nonalcoholic” versions can become alcoholic if they’re inadequately refrigerated at any point from factory to home, or if they’re stored for too long before being ingested. (This includes the GT Kombucha pictured.)
Also, kombucha labeled “nonalcoholic” can still legally contain small amounts of alcohol. I’ve witnessed dozens of innocent relapses because of kombucha.

8 months ago

500mg of 5htp?

Tana Peaco
8 months ago
Reply to  Carmelo

Hello, suggested dose of 5-htp is 50-100 mg.

5 months ago
Reply to  Tana Peaco

Yeah but the supplement says it contains 500 mg per scoop

2 years ago

Hello, I stumbled upon l glutamine by chance watching a video of a guest speaker of Ty Bollinger’s (The Truth about Cancer). The speaker mentioned she gave her alcoholic patients l glutamine for craving’s by opening a capsule and putting it under their tongue. I just purchased l glutamine in caplets and powder form but was told by the health store that the caplets should be taken with water and digested through the stomach and that placing it under the tongue would not work, are they wrong? Also can the powder form be taken under the tongue as well? What… Read more »

Wayne Semerad
Wayne Semerad
3 years ago

I started taking L-glutamine about 2 weeks ago to try to repair Leaky gut. I’m also a celiac. I also stopped drinking at the same time because of the intestinal damage it was causing. After about a week I was surprised to notice I did not have the usual cravings for a drink and come to find out it was because of L-glutamine. It really does work and now I believe I have a chance to finally really heal my badly damaged insides. I’ve been supplementing with about 5 grams/day, plus probiotics, Collagen peptides, Zinc, Magnesium, & digestive enzymes.

Sarah Chase
3 years ago

I bought l glutamine, DLPA, and MgCitrate because I found your videos so helpful (6 days sober Yikes)… I don’t know how to take them. Like can I take them at the same time or stagger intake