Glutathione, often referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants” is one of the most talked about supplements in the healthcare industry... and for good reason. Glutathione is produced and used by every single cell in the human body and, therefore, has a very wide range of scientifically-proven health effects.
1) Glutathione Fights Oxidative Stress in the Body
Glutathione reduces the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress in the body, which would otherwise cause damage to cells and DNA (R, R1, R2).
Glutathione protects against chronic oxidative stress that can cause cancer, neurodegeneration and a range of other diseases that we will discuss below (R).
As well and neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS), Glutathione is important for the regeneration of other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E (R).
2) Glutathione May Control Inflammation
Glutathione inhibits the production of most inflammatory cytokines (R).
Glutathione deficiency causes inflammation in the airways of mice. This inflammation was reduced when the mice were given Glutathione (R).
Glutathione inhibits NF-κ, a transcription factor that increases the transcription of various inflammatory genes (R).
A number of pulmonary diseases are caused by excessive inflammation. In many of these diseases, restoring Glutathione to a healthy level is protective, indirectly supporting the idea that Glutathione is anti-inflammatory (R).
3) Glutathione is Anti-Aging
With less Glutathione, free radicals can harm the body and cause aging (R).
Replenishing Glutathione levels can slow the aging process (R).
Imbalances in Glutathione levels affect immune system function and are thought to play a role in the aging process (R).
Multiple studies have demonstrated that the body makes less Glutathione as it ages (R).
Glutathione drops off during menopause which may be part of the reason for the dramatic aging that occurs in this period in a woman’s life (R).
By maintaining Glutathione levels, aging individuals may prevent age-related cognitive decline (R).
Decreased levels of Glutathione in aging subjects cause oxidative stress, which can cause bone breaking and osteoporosis (R).
6) Glutathione May Help With Infections
Viral Infections cause abnormal amounts of oxidative stress in cells due to inflammation and a reduction of Glutathione levels (R, R1).
In many diseases (e.g. AIDS, COPD, cystic fibrosis , influenza, and alcoholism), lowered immunity and increased risk of infections correlate to low Glutathione levels (R).
Patients with tuberculosis have been shown to have low Glutathione levels (R).
Glutathione depletion lowers the anti-infection activity of macrophages while NAC (Glutathione precursor) increased intracellular killing of mycobacteria (R).
Another study showed that the maintenance of cysteine levels, and thus Glutathione levels, is important for enhancing mycobacterial killing activity (R).
7) Glutathione May Heal the Gut
Patients with IBS have decreased activity of enzymes involved in Glutathione synthesis, as well as lower levels of Glutathione’s precursor, cysteine (R).
Glutathione peroxidase is an important enzyme for the normal renewal of the gut wall (R).
Glutathione protects the intestinal mucosa. Administration of Glutathione may protect the gut wall that, when weakened, can lead to leaky gut (R).
8) Glutathione May Treat Autism
Children diagnosed with Autism have lower levels (20-40% lower) of reduced Glutathione than considered normal (R, R1).
Other abnormalities have been found in the transsulfuration pathway (the pathway where Glutathione is produced) in children diagnosed with Autism (R). This includes lower levels of Cysteine, the rate limiting substrate for Glutathione production (R).
Oral and transdermal Glutathione are currently being used to normalize Glutathione levels in Autistic children. Early studies indicate that this may improve some of the transsulfuration metabolites often low in autistic children (R).
9) Glutathione and Cancer
Glutathione is a major factor in the regulation of life, proliferation, and death of cancer cells (R).
Glutathione deficiency, or a decrease in the Glutathione/Glutathione disulphide (GSSG) ratio, leads to an increased damage from oxidative stress involved in the progression of cancer (R).
There is significant correlation between increased Glutathione intake and decreased risk of oral and throat cancer (R).
Furthermore, Glutathione plays a key role in repairing damage done by cancer drugs on cells in chemotherapy patients (R).
Glutathione is crucial in the removal and detoxification of carcinogens. However, it should be noted that, by conferring resistance to a number of chemotherapeutic drugs, elevated levels of Glutathione can actually protect tumor cells. You need to get the balance right. (R, R1)