Glutathione: Probably the strongest antioxidant known to mankind


Last Updated June 13th, 2021

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant molecule that is produced by the human body.  It is generally produced by the liver and comprises of three main amino acids namely L-glutamate, L-cysteine, and glycine.  The main function of Glutathione includes its antioxidant effects, which is very essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.

There are several health benefits associated with it and the most important one includes its anti-aging effects.  Other health benefits include the treatment of ulcerative colitis, cardiovascular disease, autism, diabetes, cataract, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, lung disease, etc.  Deficiency of glutathione can lead to oxidative stress in the human body and can lead to several health issues.

glutathione moleculeIt can be administered either by oral, inhalation, as well as intravenous (IV) and intramuscular (IM).  It is administered through inhalation to treat lung disorders. Intramuscular (IM) injections are provided to treat side effects of chemotherapy as well as infertility in males.  

It is administered intravenous (IV) in several disease-related problems such as anemia, to prevent kidney problems, Parkinson’s disease, prevent clotting, etc. It is essential to the human body for numerous functions such as tissue building, tissue repair, production of chemicals, and production of proteins necessary for proper functioning of the immune system.

How does glutathione work?

  • Helps in the absorption and digestion of drugs.
  • Prevents oxidative damage.
  • Helps in the biogenesis of proteins.
  • Reduces the number of peroxides in the body.
  • Detoxifies the liver to reduce the stress of the gallbladder.
  • Eradicates the metabolism by-product called as methylglyoxal
  • Promotes apoptosis.

How can glutathione benefit you?

Improves immune health

The chances of oxidative stress increase due to the increased number of free radicals present in the body.  Glutathione is known for its antioxidant effects. This can effectively improve the functioning of the immune system and prevent the multiplication of free radicals in the body.  It also enhances the functioning of the immune system by promoting the production of chemicals and proteins required to improve the immune capacity to fight more powerful pathogens.

Reduces liver damage

glutathione immunityLiver damage can occur due to several factors including a virus attack as well as alcoholism.  There are different types of liver diseases namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholic hepatitis, hepatitis A, and hemochromatosis.  Decreased levels of antioxidants are considered to be one of the reasons for liver damage. Studies have shown that Glutathione has the ability to promote bilirubin levels, as well as important enzymes and proteins necessary to help in the treatment of liver damage.  Studies have indicated that fatty liver disease can be treated from long-term use of Glutathione at higher doses.

Treats Parkinson’s  Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes symptoms such as tremors, the stiffness of the muscles, weakness, speaking difficulty, as well as urinary problems.  One of the main contributors to Parkinson’s disease is linked to the deficiency of glutathione. Studies have shown that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease generally have low levels of glutathione.  There is no clear indication that Parkinson disease can be cured with its use, but there are few studies conducted which report a positive effect in reducing the symptoms of tremors and rigidity.

Improves symptoms of autism

Autism again is a neurological disorder, which affects the ability to carry out the proper functioning of the nervous system.  Symptoms associated with autism include repetitive behaviors, inability to communicate, anxiety, etc. Studies have indicated that a combination of toxins and increased oxidative stress are the causes of autism.  Due to the combination of toxins and oxidative stress, the brain cells are damaged leading to abnormal transmission from the brain resulting in autism.

Studies have also indicated that Glutathione levels are generally low in people affected by autism.  There has been extensive research regarding the effects of Glutathione on autism patients. It has been concluded that the addition of Glutathione is helpful in reducing the severity of autism. It has also been noted to promote 80 percent reduction in the irritability in patients who were administered Glutathione for 12 weeks.

Controls diabetes

Diabetes can be defined as the abnormal levels of glucose present in the bloodstream.  This is caused due to the body’s inability to adequately manage them. Glutathione is helpful in the management of insulin levels, which in turn is able to control the blood sugar levels to the optimum level.  Studies have shown that the addition of these supplements help with insulin resistance and also promote the process of fat burning. Both these functions are helpful in adequately managing glucose and controlling diabetes.

Reduces ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is the formation of ulcers in the colon, which is broadly defined as inflammatory bowel disease.  The ulcers and inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis can be quite painful and very distressing. It may even lead to failure to thrive due to the inability to consume food.  Studies have shown that inflammatory bowel disease can be caused due to oxidative stress.

It has already been discussed that glutathione is helpful in reducing oxidative stress.  Studies have recommended adding this supplement in the diet to help control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Promotes a healthy heart

Heart-related problems are causing a maximum number of deaths these days.  A healthy heart can really make wonders in the overall health. Glutathione seems to help in promoting a healthy heart by the process of reducing oxidative stress, which is its main function.  Studies have shown that it enhances the levels of plasma tGSH that is essential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  The combination of antioxidant effect as well as promoting the plasma tGSH levels are helpful in reducing the risk of heart ailments and promotes a healthy heart.

Skin treatment

There are numerous skin problems affecting people such as acne as well as sunburn, which are known to cause scar formation.  There are multiple skin products available in the market to promote skin treatment including eczema and skin toning. Glutathione is beneficial in promoting the whitening of the skin.  It is available as soaps, creams, as well as supplement forms. It is believed that due to the antimelanogenic property, it is helpful in promoting whitening of the skin.  There is not much headway occurred in knowing the effects of skin whitening from Glutathione and more supportive research is required.

Are there any side-effects?

Glutathione is a naturally occurring molecule in the human body and is generally very useful for many functions.  When consumed in the diet is completely safe and hardly cause any side effects. However, when taken in a supplement form, may cause few minor side effects such as allergic reactions, stomach cramps, stomach puffiness, breathing difficulties, etc.

Best glutathione supplements

  • Milk Thistle:  It is known for its medicinal properties and the main function is by improving the levels of Glutathione.
  • Whey protein:  It also has the same effects of promoting the levels of Whey protein.
  • N-acetyl cysteine:  It is known to produce Glutathione in the body and is very effective in the treatment of lung disorders such as wheezing and asthma.
  • Alpha lipoic acid:  The function of alpha lipoic acid is in the restoration of the Glutathione levels in the body.
  • Vitamins B6, B9, B12, and biotin:  Food supplements of vitamin B6, B9, B12, and biotin are very essential for the production of Glutathione.  Some of the examples are Garbanzo beans, pinto beans, spinach, lentils, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, etc.
  • Selenium:  It is useful in the production of Glutathione in the body.  Some of the examples of Selenium containing foods are chicken, Brazil nuts, tuna, turkey, egg, spinach, etc.
  • Vitamin C and vitamin E:  These vitamins increase the levels of Glutathione in the lymphocytes and red blood cells.  Examples of Vitamin C and vitamin E rich foods are oranges, grapefruit, guava, broccoli, red pepper, almonds, avocado, sweet potato, olive oil, spinach, palm oil, etc.

Which one is best suited for you?

There are three forms of glutathione available in the market. The intravenous injection is quite popular. However, there are questions asked with respect to the safety of these intravenous injections. In fact, the health department of the Philippines has issued a public warning regarding the use of these injections.  Questions have been asked about the duration of the treatment, safety profile, as well as the effect on different individuals. It is quite clear that apart from the antioxidant effects of glutathione, there is no strong evidence to support other claims.  It is always advised to consult a medical professional before supplementing any form of Glutathione.


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