The Benefits of Glutathione

In today’s world, our bodies need defense against many things such as pollution, drugs, poor diet, stress and radiation which often cause free radicals build up in cells causing damage to the body. Glutathione (GSH) is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant enzyme, which is found in every human cell. This puts it in a prime position to neutralize free radicals. In addition, glutathione is known to be a powerful immune booster and a detoxifier. It is involved in a variety of functions within the body.

L-glutathione, in its reduced form is a master antioxidant. It protects tissues by neutralizing free radicals. Glutathione slows the aging process by working in DNA synthesis and repair. GSH levels decline with age, and a lack of glutathione leaves the body more vulnerable to damage by free radicals, thus speeding up oxidation (wearing down) of the body. Glutathione also acts as a co-enzyme for various enzymatic reactions, and helps to maintain the functions of other antioxidants.

Glutathione enhances immune system functioning by promoting antigen presentation and stimulating CD8 cells which protect us from viral and bacterial infections. In the blood stream, glutathione keeps red blood and white blood cells healthy and maximizes the disease-fighting power of the immune system. In people with immune deficiency, glutathione levels fall well below the normal levels in blood and immune cells.

The body produces and stores the largest amounts of GSH in the liver, where it is used to detoxify harmful compounds so that they can be removed from the body through the bile. Glutathione is able to reduce disulfide bonds. The sulfur molecule stimulates the secretion of bile in the liver. This effect, along with its antioxidant ability, makes GSH useful in liver detoxification products. Furthermore, glutathione assists in the metabolism of carcinogens and toxins such as car exhaust, cigarette smoke, heavy metals, aspirin and alcohol, as well as many pesticides and industrial chemicals.

Glutathione has been used to treat many conditions. These include liver diseases, particularly hepatitis and liver cancer, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure in patients with diabetes, low sperm counts and sickle cell anemia.

Alpha lipoic acid, selenium, vitamin C, trimethylglycine, cysteine, milk thistle, coffee enemas, cold-processed whey proteins, colostrums, certified raw milk and L-glutamine support increased glutathione levels.

Glutathione also occurs naturally in many foods, and people who eat well probably have enough in their diets. Acorn squash, asparagus, avocado, cantaloupe, grapefruit, okra, orange, peach, potato, spinach, strawberries, tomato, watermelon, and zucchini are all good sources of GSH.

Vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and parsley, not only provide GSH, but actually stimulate the body to produce more of this powerful antioxidant. Cooking destroys a lot of the glutathione in fresh fruits and vegetables, so you can get the most GSH from these foods by eating them raw or steamed.

Supplementation with reduced glutathione does not necessarily raise tissue levels of glutathione. Supplements can be expensive, and there is some question about the body’s ability to absorb oral GSH. While the unreduced form is much cheaper, it is not metabolically active.

Doctors often report that clinical benefits achieved with intravenous reduced glutathione are not seen when it is taken orally. As such, intravenous administration has the most benefits of detoxification. However, if you want to take GSH supplements, just make sure to take them with meals to maximize absorption. Riboflavin and niacinamide are essential cofactors for generating reduced glutathione.

IV doses of reduced L-Glutathione should start at 300 mg, and move up by 100 mg every few days to the desired dosage for the condition. It can be used for any type of detoxification, and works especially well for patients with autoimmune conditions.

For patients who do not wish to receive the IV administration, Nebulized Glutathione (300 – 400 mg nebulized twice a day) can be used. Treatments take five to ten minutes and may be continued as long as the patient remains symptomatic. Glutathione can also be administered as ophthalmic drops to treat cataracts.

Copyright © 2012 Dr. Phoebe Chow.
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