Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that’s made in the body’s cells. Its levels decrease as a result of aging, stress, and toxin exposure. Boosting glutathione may provide many health benefits, including reduction of oxidative stress. It is commonly used for skin lightening. IV Glutathione is used as therapy by some and for detoxification.
Glutathione is an antioxidant produced in cells. It’s comprised largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine.
Glutathione levels in the body may be reduced by a number of factors, including poor nutrition, environmental toxins, and stress. Its levels also decline with age.
In addition to being produced naturally by the body, glutathione can be given intravenously, topically, or as an inhalant. It’s also available as an oral supplement in capsule and liquid form. However, oral ingestion of glutathione may not be as effective as intravenous delivery for some conditions.
Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to fight them off. Too-high levels of oxidative stress may be a precursor to multiple diseases. These include diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Glutathione helps stave off the impact of oxidative stress, which may, in turn, reduce disease.
Cell death in the liver may be exacerbated by a deficiency in antioxidants, including glutathione. This can lead to liver disease disease in both those who misuse alcohol and those who don’t. Glutathione has been shown to improve protein, enzyme, and bilirubin levels in the blood of individuals with alcoholic and nonalcoholic chronic fatty liver disease.
As people age, they produce less glutathione. Researchers at Baylor School of Medicine used a combination of animal and human studies to explore the role of glutathione in weight management and insulin resistance in older individuals. Study findings indicated that low glutathione levels were associated with less fat burning and higher rates of fat storing in the body.
Older subjects had cysteine and glycine added to their diets to increase glutathione levels, which spiked within two weeks, improving insulin resistance and fat burning.
Peripheral artery disease occurs when the peripheral arteries become clogged by plaque. It most commonly happens in the legs. One study reported that glutathione improved circulation, increasing the ability of study participants to walk pain-free for longer distances. Participants receiving glutathione rather than a saline solution placebo were given intravenous infusions two times daily for five days, and then analyzed for mobility.
Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system and is defined by symptoms such as tremors. It currently has no cure. One study documented intravenous glutathione’s positive effects on symptoms such as tremors and rigidity. While more research is needed, this case report suggests that glutathione may help reduce symptoms, improving quality of life in people with this disease.
The chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases can increase oxidative stress. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus. According to one study shows glutathione helps reduce oxidative stress by either stimulating or reducing the body’s immunological response. Autoimmune diseases attack the mitochondria in specific cells. Glutathione works to protect cell mitochondria by eliminating free radicals.
Several studies showed, including a clinical trial reported in Medical Science, indicate that children with autism have higher levels of oxidative damage and lower levels of glutathione in their brain. This increased susceptibility to neurological damage in children with autism from substances such as mercury.
The eight-week clinical trial on children aged 3 to 13 used oral or transdermal applications of glutathione. Autistic symptom changes were not evaluated as part of the study, but children in both groups showed improvement in cysteine, plasma sulfate, and whole-blood glutathione levels.
Long-term high blood sugar is associated with reduced amounts of glutathione. This can lead to oxidative stress and tissue damage. A study found that dietary supplementation with cysteine and glycine boosted glutathione levels. It also lowered oxidative stress and damage in people with uncontrolled diabetes, despite high sugar levels. Study participants were placed on 0.81 millimoles per kilogram (mmol/kg) of cysteine and 1.33 mmol/kg glycine daily for two weeks.
N-acetylcysteine is a medication used to treat conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. As an inhalant, it helps to thin mucus and make it less paste-like. It also reduces inflammation. N-Acetylcysteine is a byproduct of Glutathion.
Glutathione is found in some foods, although cooking and pasteurization diminish its levels significantly. Its highest concentrations are in: