Glutathione (GSH) is classified as a ‘tripeptide’, which means it is composed of three amino acids. The human body produces glutathione from the amino acids Cysteine, Glutamic Acid and Glycine, and it is the key antioxidant compound required for vital functioning of all cells.

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant essential for alleviating oxidative stress and protecting individual cells and tissues from free radicals. It is also known to enhance healthy growth and enhance the activity of immune cells needed for disease resistance and immune protection. In addition it enables the body to rid itself of unwanted toxins and heavy metals, detoxifying the liver, the body’s most concentrated source of glutathione; and protecting the body from today’s environmental pollutants, natural and synthetic toxins, genetically engineered processed foods and toxic waste.

There are certain genes involved in regulating the production of enzymes that allow the body to create and recycle glutathione. These genes have many names, such as GSTM1, GSTP1 and more. These genes regulate the enzyme glutathione S-Transferase which is responsible for glutathione production. It is estimated that about 1/3 of chronically ill people have a GSTM1 deficiency which results in low glutathione levels.

Low levels of glutathione have been implicated in many autoimmune disorders and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Autism, HIV, MS Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.

Glutathione is so beneficial in Parkinson’s disease because it has the unique ability to increase the dopamine receptor’s sensitivity making certain areas of the brain more sensitive to dopamine despite the decreased levels associated with this condition.

Raising the amount of glutathione in the blood, it will help bind the heavy metals and remove them from the body and also help brain and immune development for children with autism. Increasing glutathione levels and effectively improving detoxification of the liver has been found to increase language and awareness for these children.

Glutathione has also been used to help treat Aging, Autism, Cancer, Chemotherapy recovery, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for Detoxification, Drug addiction, Emphysema, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Hepatitis, Hypoglycemia, Kydney disease, Liver disease, Liver cancer, Mercury poisoning,Parkinson’s disease, Respiratory problems such as cystic and pulmonary fibrosis, Smoking, Tuberculosis, to name a few.

How to test for Glutathione

Oxidative stress causes a deficiency of intracellular glutathione, therefore making it difficult to measure. The rapid turnover of reduced glutathione makes testing levels in Red Blood Cells inaccurate. Therefore the only way to test for glutathione is indirectly with tests such as a liver detoxification profile which will measure the extent of glutathionation in the liver, or an organic acids test which will test for citric acid and alpha-keto glucarate which are dependant on glutathione mainly in muscle tissue. Amino acid analysis is another possibility which measures the amino acids that make up glutathione which may also give an indirect indication of glutathione’s activity.

Glutathione Supplements

Always ensure you use the reduced form of glutathione which is the active form. Glutathione is a very powerful antioxidant and therefore oxidizes rapidly in the presence of water and must be stored in the fridge to maximize its stability.

Injections are the best way to administer glutathione for a systemic effect where it can reach your cells. Injections must be formulated correctly to avoid decomposition and must be stored in the fridge under vacume  to prevent oxidation. If done so they should last for up to 6 months. Our lab supplies 200mg/ml glutathione injections however a doctors prescription is required.We send these out in an esky packed in ice.

Nebulised Glutathione is the next best method for increasing cellular GSH levels and for the treatment of pulmonary conditions. It is also one of the best ways for an overall systemic affect as it is readily absorbed into the blood stream nearly as rapidly as an injection. To enhance their stability our lab produces a dry glutathione nebulizer capsule which is dissolved into 4ml of sterile water prior to being administered by a nebulizer. Once the capsule contents are dissolved the resulting solution is buffered and isotonic with a pH of about 6 which eliminates the irritation causes by acidic GSH. A 125mg capsule should be nebulized twice daily for maximum benefits.

Glutathione creams are also available and if formulated correctly are a very good way to administer glutathione. Transdermal administration bypasses the stomach and liver and thus provides glutathione into the blood stream and throughout the body for a systemic effect. Our laboratory has formulated a stabilised liposomal glutathione gel. The liposomes enhance absorption while it is stabilised as it contains no water thus reducing the oxidation of the glutathione during storage making it more stable. You should avoid any glutathione creams containing water (such as PLO base commonly used) as they will decompose  rapidly. Our cream is stable at room temperature however we still recommend for long term storage to keep it in the fridge – just to be sure -  however a few days out of the fridge is fine.

Glutathione anhydrous suppositories are also available. They come in 250mg or 500mg strengths. They too are relatively stable at room temperature however should be kept in the fridge for long term storage. They also provide a good way to increase cellular levels of glutathione.

Glutathione slow release capsules which minimize the destruction of glutathione in the stomach provides better absorption than standard tablets but should only be used to concentrate glutathione in the liver for detoxification reactions. If you intend to use it for an overall systemic effect then the injection, lotion or nebules would be the preferred option.

All forms of glutathione including injections, lotions, capsules and nebulised forms mentioned in this article are available here  or alternatively refer the ordering information page to view the various ordering methods available.

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2 Responses to “Glutathione”

  1. Dr Serafin:
    I have just found your web site and have downloaded a number of your articles. I am always on the look for people who understand physiology/biochemistry…and are not married to the medical model.
    With that said, in the article on glutathione….
    You only suggest taking some form of formed glutathione.
    Would it not be a better idea, cheaper, more readily available to take the pre-cursors??
    With precursors the body can make what it needs as it needs it, with no hassles of breaking down.
    I think that some writers have a tendency to cater to the pharmaceutical/supplement approach rather than…how can we synthesize this hormone or compound from readily available materials. yes?
    With best wishes,
    Earl Conroy

  2. michael says:

    In regards to using precursors (of any kind) it is very unpredictable as to weather or not there will be any significant conversion of it into the desired end compound. As we all vary greatly the degree of conversion of any precursor will vary greatly due to a whole variety of reasons such as presence of cofactors, protein intake, enzyme efficiency and numbers, to name but a few. The more conversion steps required to achieve the end product the more chance of failure to produce sufficient amounts of it to produce a therapeutic effect therefore making the use of precursors ineffective in many cases. In addition the more conversion steps required a far greater dose of precursor is required to produce a relatively small amount of end product as a great deal of loss will occur through side reactions, alternative reaction pathways, liver metabolism and elimination, etc, etc. With this unpredictable nature I feel it is more effective to use the compound in question so you know for a fact that you are actually getting a therapeutic dose of the desired end product rather than assuming you may be getting it through conversion of a precursor. A great error is to assume anything including that there will be significant conversion. If you can measure the end product through some form of accurate and proven testing method such as blood tests, say, then you will know for sure if the end compound in question is being formed from the precursor and if proven to be so well and good. However in this example glutathione cannot be practically measured due to its reactivity so you have no way of knowing if significant amounts of conversion is occuring to produce a therapeutic effect. Therefore the use of precursor therapy is questionable in individual cases.

    In addition what is the difference in the end if you use a precursor or the compound itself? In this example assume you take N-acetylcysteine to increase glutathione and assume it actually works in this particular individual. The end result is an increase in glutathione levels. If you use glutathione itself the same end result occurs without any assumptions or guess work. As both these agents are considered safe I do not see any benefit using a precursor for a therapeutic effect. In addition if several conversion steps are required then you will need to take a far greater amount of N-acetylcysteine to produce only a small amount of glutathione as you will never get 100% conversion (or anywhere close to it) so in fact you could argue that it would be a disadvantage to use a precursor in most cases as a greater dose is required and arguably placing more pressure on your liver and system in general.

    As most of the information I present is for the treatment of various disease states and as such the treatments suggested must achieve a therapeutic effect I prefer to use predictable and reliable treatments that I can confidently say will work in a majority of cases. Hence I do not generally recommend prescursors. Obviously in cases where achieving therapeutic doses is not as critical, such as supplements for well being, precursors may be used because if insufficient amounts of the end product is produced it will no have any major detrimental effects on the patient.

    I hope this explains my reasons for doing so.

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