Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that affects all aspects of health, whether it’s how the body reacts to junk food or if an individual develops Parkinson’s disease (PD) or cancer.1-3
Although the body naturally synthesizes glutathione from glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid, levels tend to drop off with age—sometimes dramatically—and often at a time when people need it most. Additionally, exposure to toxins, liver damage, illness, and genetics can disrupt and impact glutathione production. And without it, the immune system is terribly compromised as the body can’t make enough white blood cells to fight off invaders.1
Glutathione also neutralizes harmful toxins, stops free-radical damage to DNA, and helps preserve the strength of telomeres (the caps at the end of chromosomes that protect DNA during replication). With the strong link between telomere length and longevity, glutathione levels can be considered a natural fountain of youth and vibrant health.4
Glutathione and disease
Glutathione protects disease-fighting lymphocytes from oxidative damage, allowing them to destroy undesirable cells, including cancer cells.5 And studies suggest that boosting glutathione levels can enhance the immune system’s ability to tackle infectious invaders and provide other astounding benefits.1
As early as 1996, an Italian study found that after only 30 days of treatment with reduced glutathione, the progression of PD was reduced and the symptoms were improved by 42 percent. The challenge was that glutathione could only be given intravenously, which put a significant limit on its daily therapeutic use at the time.6
Glutathione may also help those actively being treated for certain types of cancer. In a 2008 study, Japanese doctors found that intravenously administered glutathione dramatically reduced nerve damage in patients being treated with certain kinds of chemotherapy that cause neurotoxicity. Not only did glutathione exert a neuroprotective effect, it reduced the nerve-damaging oxidative stress caused by chemotherapy.7-8
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have been the focus of much glutathione research. A recent study concludes: “Increasing glutathione remains a promising therapeutic strategy to slow or prevent MCI and Alzheimer’s disease.” Considering that glutathione levels continue to decline with age, and both AD and MCI increase with age, intervention with effective glutathione can play an important role in slowing or preventing the progression of these diseases.9
Glutathione has become a standard practice in complementary treatment of the tick-borne Lyme disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Glutathione is crucial to reduce the damage of the disease, since the body’s own levels are often depleted with the effort of fighting off the bacteria. In fact, Polish researchers found that patients using antibiotics to treat the skin lesion phase of the disease still had heavy free-radical activity.10
Research with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in Italy showed a strong correlation between inflammation, oxidative stress, and lowered glutathione levels in the bloodstream. A clinical study in Jordan found that patients with RA showed a 50-percent depletion of reduced glutathione compared to healthy controls.11
Because RA is an autoimmune disease—a case of the body working against itself—many treatment options are limited to pain reduction, rather than helping the body get its immune balance back in shape. But, many current studies examining the relationship between RA, oxidative stress, and inflammation share the conclusion that getting these factors under control is critical in stopping the arterial stiffness and damage of the disease. This makes glutathione a serious contender for treatment.
For many years, the use of IV glutathione was standard. It can be extremely effective, but also expensive for patients, sometimes costing thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, as an alternative, many oral supplement forms of glutathione become oxidized in the body by the digestive process. In those cases, even enteric coating can’t help because the problem isn’t acid exposure—it’s any exposure to the stomach and intestines. And oxidized glutathione not only becomes useless for fighting disease, it actually adds to the overall free radical burden. What patients need instead of oxidized glutathione is active (commonly called “reduced”) glutathione.
Fortunately, French scientists have developed a way to enhance glutathione’s bioavailability in supplemental form. This patented process combines glutathione with protective antioxidants.
When compared to unprotected glutathione after 11 days of use, this special protected form increased active glutathione in the bloodstream by 38 points, while unprotected glutathione actually reduced the active amount by 40 points. That’s a 78 point difference between the two groups.12 It also improved glutathione ratios (the ratio of active to oxidized glutathione) by 230 percent compared to the unprotected form.12
No other compound is quite like glutathione, the master antioxidant, but it is challenging to use therapeutically. As a viable option to boost glutathione levels, this latest French development may be the revolutionary answer patients need to live a longer and healthier life, and practitioners can recommend it for powerful, attainable results.
Terry Lemerond is a natural health expert with more than 40 years’ 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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3 Smeyne M, Smeyne RJ. Glutathione metabolism and Parkinson’s disease. Free Radic Biol Med. 2013;62:13-25.
4 Ding D, Zhou J, Wang M, Cong YS. Implications of telomere-independent activities of telomerase reverse transcriptase in human cancer. FEBS J. 2013;280(14):3205-11.
5 Fidelus RK, Tsan MF. Glutathione and lymphocyte activation: a function of ageing and auto-immune disease. Immunology. 1987;61(4):503-8.
6 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.
7 Cascinu S, Catalano V, Cordella L, 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;20(16):3478-83.
8 Takimoto N, Sugawara S, Iida A, et al. Prevention of oxaliplatin-related neurotoxicity by glutathione infusions. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 2008;35(13):2373-6.
9 Pocernich CB, Butterfield DA. Elevation of glutathione as a therapeutic strategy in Alzheimer disease. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012;1822(5):625-30.
10 Pancewicz SA, Skrzydlewska E, Hermanowska-Szpakowicz T, Zajkowska JM, Kondrusik M. Role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in patients with erythema migrans, an early manifestation of Lyme borreliosis. Med Sci Monit. 2001;7(6):1230-5.
11 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.
12 Clinical study to evaluate oral form of glutathione for blood glutathione ratio improvement. Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Nutrition (CERNh). Conducted at Centre Hospitalier de Bretagne Sud, Lorient, France. Unpublished research, 2009.