Glutathione (GSH) has been referred to as the “master antioxidant.”
It is an absolute must for good health across the board; glutathione benefits include supporting the activity of the liver and helping neutralize dangerous toxins, it bolsters the immune system by helping the body create white blood cells that fight harmful infections and viruses, and it prevents free-radical damage to brain and nerve cells.1-3
In the body, glutathione is created naturally from the separate building blocks of glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid. Unfortunately, genetics, aging, and the environment can play a large role in whether or not a person has the levels of glutathione required for optimal health.
As people age, their capacity for glutathione synthesis declines. Even those in good health produce 30 percent less glutathione by age 40, and up to 50 percent less by age 65.
Chronic illnesses or toxin exposure can bring those numbers down even further.
So it would seem that to mitigate this problem, people should simply supplement with glutathione. However, it’s not quite that easy. Glutathione is hard to supply to the body with oral supplements, expensive in intravenous (IV) form, and hard to replicate using supplemental building blocks.
The main challenge with supplemental forms is that they’re easily oxidized in the body by the digestive process. Enteric coating to preserve glutathione from digestive acids doesn’t solve the issue, either—any exposure to the stomach or intestines results in oxidized glutathione (GSSG).
The ratio between active and oxidized glutathione is critically important. GSH should be no less than 90 percent of the total bioavailable glutathione; GSSG should be no more than 10 percent.
An elevated GSSG-to-GSH ratio is considered to be a sign of oxidative stress yet, while intravenous glutathione can effectively deliver glutathione in its active form, this procedure generally lies well outside of most treatment plans and budgets—for many people it’s a “no-go” proposition.
Supplemental N-acetylcysteine(NAC) can be converted by the body into cysteine, which can then be used to synthesize glutathione in the cells. However, this process is only as effective as the body’s ability to perform this synthesis—and some people are genetically poor converters. Age and disease can also negatively impact glutathione synthesis from precursors.
Enhancing glutathione benefits
Fortunately, newer developments in oral glutathione supplementation have made it possible to boost levels of this vital component effectively, and without breaking the bank.
Recently, researchers have been testing glutathione’s bioavailability with a process that combines it with protective antioxidants in a slow-dissolving sublingual tablet.4 Because the of the capillary-rich environment under the tongue, the glutathione is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive tract, and facing minimal oxidative damage. Tests have shown that this formulation effectively raises blood levels of reduced glutathione.
A clinical study found that, in only 11 days, this delivery system increased active glutathione in the bloodstream by 38 points, while unprotected glutathione actually reduced the active amount by 40 points—a 78-point difference between the two groups. It also improved glutathione ratios (the ratio of active glutathione to the oxidized form) by 230 percent compared to unprotected glutathione.5
Making the case
Your patients may not be aware of how critical glutathione is for their overall health—but they should be. A clear example is that anyone that your patients have ever known (or heard about) who lived to a healthy and active old age, probably had significantly higher glutathione levels than average.1-3
That’s because glutathione enhances detoxification and neutralizes harmful toxins, while stopping free radical damage that leads to signs of premature aging. It preserves the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes, which prevent the unraveling of DNA, and it protects lymphocytes that fight tumor cells.6,7
In addition, glutathione is a standard therapeutic approach to fighting nerve damage of Lyme disease, has been shown to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms, nerve damage from chemotherapy, and has the potential to be a complementary treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.8-13
Compliance means results
For many practitioners, patient compliance with supplemental glutathione (or NAC) in a protocol has probably been mixed, as have the results—just like any other integrative regimen. But, having a powerful, easy-to-use, and effective glutathione finally gives you a chance to realize its full potential for your patients’ optimal health.
Terry Lemerond is a natural health expert with more than 40 years of experience. He has owned health food stores, founded dietary supplement companies, and formulated more than 400 products. A published author, he appears on radio, television, and is a frequent guest speaker. He can be contacted through europharmausa.com.
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4 Schmitt B, Vicenzi M, Garrel C, Denis FM. Effects of N-acetylcysteine, oral glutathione (GSH) and a novel sublingual form of GSH on oxidative stress markers: A comparative crossover study. Redox Biology. 2015;6:198-205.
5 Clinical study to evaluate oral form of glutathione for blood glutathione ratio improvement. Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Nutrition (CERN). Conducted at Centre Hospitalier de Bretagne Sud, Lorient, France. Unpublished research. 2009.
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9 Sechi G, Deledda MG, Bua G, et al. Reduced intravenous glutathione in the treatment of early Parkinson’s disease. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1996;20(7):1159-70.
10 Cascinu S, et al. Neuroprotective effect of reduced glutathione on oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy in advanced colorectal cancer: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2002 Aug 15;20(16):3478-83.
11 Takimoto N, et al. Prevention of oxaliplatin- related neurotoxicity by glutathione infusions. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 2008;35(13):2373-6.
12 Hassan MQ, Hadi RA, Al-Rawi ZS, Padron VA, Stohs SJ. The glutathione defense system in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. J Appl Toxicol. 2001;21(1):69-73.
13 Pocernich CB, Butterfield DA. Elevation of glutathione as a therapeutic strategy in Alzheimer disease. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012;1822(5):625-30.