Glutathione (GSH) is the body’s master antioxidant and it functions to detoxify the body of many different harmful chemicals, drugs, heavy metals (such as Arsenic, Cadmium, Nickel, Mercury, and Lead), toxins, hormones, and other pernicious agents that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Made in the liver, Its main mechanism of detoxification is through an enzyme called glutathione S-transferase (GST).
Glutathione has the ability to:
- Make DNA, the building blocks of life
- Support immune function
- Scavenge free radicals (responsible for inflammation and aging)
- Regenerating other anti-oxidants like Vitamin A, C, and E
- Assisting with programmed cell death (Apoptosis)
- Maintenance of cell membrane integrity
- Decrease oxidized LDL (the bad cholesterol)
Because of its ability to reduce inflammation, it has showing to be beneficial in assisting those with various chronic health conditions, such as:
- Mold and Bio-toxin Illness
- Lyme disease
- Neurodegenerative Diseases (Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s disease)
- Insulin Resistance/Diabetes
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel disease such as Colitis
**Note: In can also be taken in acute situations such as the onset of a cold. The fastest way to get Glutathione in the system is by IV push.
For more information on what happens when GSH levels become deficient Dr. Tim Guilford MD below.
Because glutathione is such a potent antioxidant, it plays a significant role in anti-aging. Therefore, supporting healthy glutathione levels can make you look and feel younger.
It can become chronically lowered by many factors, including stress, poor sleep, poor diet, chronic infections, alcohol consumption, etc.
The role of environmental toxicity and GSH levels:
GSH is comprised of three amino acids, glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. Since these proteins are ubiquitous in our food, it is conceivable that we should be able to make our own glutathione. However, Glutathione is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and foods rich in glutathione do not appear to contribute to increases in intracellular glutathione levels. Also, certain environmental toxins, such as Glyphosate may interfere with this process. Glyphosate interferes with the body’s ability to use Glycine, and therefore its ability to synthesize and utilize GSH.
Are you deficient in Glutathione?
You may be deficient in Glutathione if you are experiencing:
- Lack of energy
- Aches and pains – joints or muscles hurting
- Foggy brain
- Low Immunity
- Poor sleep
NOTE: If by increasing your Glutathione levels through supplementation, you feel better, you may have a glutathione deficiency!
Measuring Glutathione levels:
In general, measuring Glutathione levels can be challenging and therefore is not offered with routine bloodwork. Standard serum blood tests do not reveal an accurate picture of one’s glutathione levels. Intracellular levels are a thousand times higher than in the plasma, therefore obtaining intracellular GSH levels are not accurate. However, certain functional medicine tests give a much better understanding of GSH levels, such as RBC Glutathione and Spectracell’s Intracellular Glutathione. Also, an Organic Acid’s Test (OAT) gives indirect measurements of glutathione deficiency.
Nutritional support for Glutathione
Historically, glutathione supplementation has been ineffective because it is degraded in the G.I. tract and in the bloodstream, thus supplemental sources have been difficult. Therefore, taking glutathione precursors as well as alternative delivery systems such as liposomal and reduced forms of glutathione have been proven to be effective. Nutritional products that have been documented to increase GSH biosynthesis include:
- Whey protein
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Liposomal GSH
- Nebulized GSH
Glutathione Patch—can boost glutathione levels by 300%. The patch represents a way to get stable levels over time, without needing to take lots of supplements. See video below.
Natural ways to boost Glutathione:
Glutathione supplements can be expensive. However , there are some things you can do on your own to boost glutathione levels.
- Exercise, especially brief, high intensity exercise (HITT)
- Intermittent fasting.
- Coffee enemas. Have been shown to boost glutathione levels by 600-700%!
Should I take Glutathione?
While supplementing with GSH precursors or even glutathione itself seems like a no-brainer, there are many things to consider before taking glutathione. Your infectious load, your toxicity level, your genetics, your metabolism, your liver health, your exercise tolerance, and many other factors need to be considered. Also keep in mind that there has been a debate whether or not supplementing with glutathione over a long period of time may reduce one’s production of endogenous glutathione. You may also want to consider pulsing doses of glutathione so as to promote your own production over time. There is a time and a place for glutathione, so exercise caution if you have:
- A sulfa, sulfite, or sulfur allergy. Many people have an allergy to Sulfa drugs, like Bactrim. Consider this if you have sensitivities to things like: eggs, onions, or garlic. Or, if you are sensitive to the following supplements: allicin (garlic), Cystine or L-Cystine,
- Mercury Amalgams
- Liver or Gallbladder Problems
- Lyme, Mold, or some other chronic infection
- Gut issues or SIBO (especially the kind that is thought to produce H2S-Hydrogen Sulfide)
What are some of the potential side effects of taking glutathione and what do they mean?
- Irritability, anxiety, insomnia, or headaches: This means you could have a problem with glutamate and Reactive Oxygen Species-Definitely check your genetics to see if you have a problem with GAD1
- Foul-smelling gas, body odor, loose stools: Could mean you are allergic to sulfites and have Hydrogen Sulfide bacterial overgrowth
- Fatigue: Means you could be reacting to reactive oxygen species and could need Kreb Cycle intermediates, as well as antioxidants
- Joint pain, muscle pain. This could mean that you are having an immune activation. Need to treat the infection first.
Some standard and functional Medicine testing to see if you can tolerate Glutathione:
- Liver panel
- CBC with Lymphocyte panel
- Autoimmune panel
- Zinc: Copper ratio
- Organic Acids Test: quinolinic acid, kynurenine, tricarbylic, glutaric, HVA, VMA, 5-
- Genetics/Neutrogenomics: Slow COMT, Slow MAOA, MTHFR, NOS3, TNFA, FADS1 GAD Deficiency
Things you can do to prepare for glutathione or if you have a reaction to glutathione:
- Lithium Orotate
Unfortunately with the increasing levels of toxicity in the environment including Wi-Fi and EMF stress, our bodies are under increasing demand for antioxidant support. Supporting glutathione production seems like the right thing to do. However, as we mentioned taking glutathione can be expensive, lead to side effects, and could have an impact on the production of glutathione. Therefore we always recommend the cheapest alternative to produce your own glutathione: that means reducing toxicity load, try whey protein (if you are not allergic), getting proper exercise, optimizing sleep, getting enough magnesium, intermittent fasting, and coffee enemas. If, after trying these natural methods, you are still having symptoms of chronic fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms, testing to reveal any root causes and testing for glutathione should be considered. If your glutathione levels are found to be low, then you should consider supplementation, but proceed cautiously given all of the factors we have outlined above. Keep in mind that if you are dealing with mold or Lyme illness, glutathione supplementation can be a tricky thing to navigate. In any regard, if you are considering taking glutathione, you should work with a skilled practitioner. If testing for glutathione levels and other labs seems daunting, the fastest (and cheapest) way to evaluate stressors and tolerance to glutathione in our experience is to have an evaluation using Autonomic Response Technique (ART). If you have any questions about whether or not you should take glutathione, or if you would like further evaluation, please contact our office for further more information.
Glutathione and Parkinson’s Disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736736/
Glutathione metabolism in type 2 diabetes and its relationship with microvascular complications and glycemia https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198626
Glutathione supplementation improves oxidative damage in experimental colitis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14563185/
Application of Glutathione as Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Aging Drugs https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26467067/
Differentiating Sulfur Compounds Sulfa Drugs, Glucosamine Sulfate, Sulfur, and Sulfiting Agents by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregonhttp://www.itmonline.org/arts/sulfa.htm
Glutathione Intolerance? Histamine Intolerance? Dr. Ben Lynch https://wanp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Lynch-B.-Glutathione-Histamine.pdf