Top 10 Fab Facts about Glutathione (GSH)
By Dr Levy MD
Glutathione (GSH) is one of the most important antioxidants found in all cells of the human body. Medical interest in GSH continues to increase as research demonstrates the protective antioxidant, detoxifying, immune boosting, and healing properties of GSH throughout the body. Even though the body makes GSH, it can often struggle to maintain healthy levels due to the continual onslaught of oxidative stress. As a result, many informed individuals want to boost their natural GSH levels. But it’s only IV infusions of GSH and oral liposomal GSH that deliver intact glutathione directly into the blood. Let’s take a look at how this powerful nutrient works within the body…
1. Glutathione (GSH) works in synergy with vitamin C
On an intracellular (within the cell) level, GSH is unparalleled in its disease-fighting, toxin-neutralizing, immune-supporting, and anti-aging functions. Vitamin C performs the same functions in an extracellular (outside the cell) capacity. Biologically, there is a powerful synergy between vitamin C and GSH as they help recharge and enhance each other. In fact, one of the most important functions of vitamin C is to help maintain normal GSH levels inside the cell. Together they make a strong team promoting health and longevity for all body cells, tissues and organs.
2. GSH and cellular health.
Glutathione is so important to the health of every cell in the body that cell death results when GSH levels inside cells drop too low. Healthy, unchallenged cells can produce a sufficient amount of GSH for a host of protective and metabolic functions. Even without the extra toxic demands exerted by 21st century living, the requirement for GSH production is very high. However, normal energy production within the cell creates a host of prooxidant waste products which GSH helps neutralise. When additional pressures of emotional or physical stress, radiation, infection, an unhealthy diet, toxins, heavy metals, and the invasion of pathogens, cellular levels of GSH get quickly depleted resulting in cellular damage.
3.GSH as a master antioxidant
An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits or prevents oxidative damage by supplying electrons back to a substance that was oxidized (repair) or by supplying electrons directly to the oxidant substance before it has the opportunity to become oxidised (prevention). An antioxidant helps “prevent” oxidation and its free radicals by neutralizing them with an infusion of electrons. GSH helps recharge antioxidants with a steady flow of electrons to help maintain the cell’s antioxidant pool. GSH helps regenerate the antioxidant potential of superoxide dismutase (SOD), alpha lipoic acid and vitamins C and E, protecting the cell from compromised health and a chain reaction that could ultimately destroy the cell.
4. GSH and the immune support
The immune system has an impressive, very complex defence system composed of antibodies, mast cells, macrophages and lymphocytes to thwart the attacks of ever-present toxins and pathogens. Mast cells and white blood cells are under constant attack and require high levels of GSH to remain effective in the battle. Researchers have revealed that GSH is essential in protecting immune cells. Lymphocytes are the backbone of the active immune defence and studies show that increasing GSH blood levels increases the proliferation of lymphocytes and their differentiation into natural killer cells and T-Cells. GSH also has essential roles in activating the body’s immune response.
5. GSH and brain health
Brain cells produce more potentially damaging oxidation products per gram than any other tissue in the body. It would be difficult to overstate how important GSH is in protecting and restoring function in the brain. Virtually every type of brain injury (stroke, traumatic injuries, heavy metal toxicity), brain disease (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS), and brain disorders (schizophrenia, depression, sleep disorders) is accompanied by increased oxidative stress and greatly diminished GSH levels. Studies show boosting GSH levels in the brain tends to help prevent the development of some of these disorders and also results in significant improvement for subjects suffering with them. Studies show that GSH is capable of protecting against the cellular damage caused by an excess of dopamine and it appears to be much more effective in this capacity than vitamin C or vitamin E.
6. GSH for cardio health
The powerful synergy between GSH and vitamin C is most visible in the coronary arteries for reducing atherosclerosis, arterial plaque and blockages. When nitric oxide activity is low in the cells lining the inside of the arteries, vascular spasm is more likely to occur, resulting in a constriction or closing of these blood vessels. Research in patients with atherosclerosis showed that GSH supplementation increases nitric oxide activity, relaxes vascular spasms, and improves blood flow. After a heart attack there is a substantial increase in the local production of free radicals, which reliably depletes the affected heart tissue of its GSH stores. When researchers took measures to prevent this depletion of GSH content, the affected heart showed substantially less damage.
7. GSH and lung health
Lung disease researchers consider GSH to be “one of the most important antioxidants in the human lung and lung secretions.” The lungs, where the exchange and presence of oxygen is continuous, are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Low GSH levels in the lungs provide conditions for disease and damage to result. In addition, lung disease itself consumes GSH more rapidly, resulting in a vicious cycle of less antioxidant protection and additional damage. Clinical research exists on GSH with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome, cystic fibrosis and lung injury. Various GSH therapies show great lung-protective capabilities and are proving to be successful in easing the symptoms associated with even advanced chronic lung disease.
8. GSH and eye health
Virtually all diseases of the eye, particularly those associated with the progressive loss of vision, are intrinsically linked with a loss of antioxidant stores and an increase of oxidative stress. Studies now show conclusively that cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are always accompanied by, and significantly worsened by, ongoing and un-neutralised oxidative stress in the eye. When GSH concentrations remain above a certain level, cataract formations tend not to occur. Researchers found the fluid bathing the lens inside the glaucomatous eye to be deficient in GSH and studies show GSH supplementation and the use of high-dose vitamin C to play preventative roles for eye disorders.
9. GHS and liver detoxification
When the liver is healthy, it produces sufficient quantities of GSH to perform its own important detoxification functions and also creates and dispenses a GSH surplus into the bloodstream for use throughout the body. Over time, exposure to a great variety and quantity of toxic chemicals encountered in everyday living hampers liver function. As the liver becomes compromised, it struggles to meet its own GSH needs and there is little surplus GSH secreted into the blood for other organs of the body. Depressed GSH levels in the liver are intrinsically linked to liver disease and liver damage. When GSH and vitamin C levels can be adequately boosted with effective supplementation, liver diseases tend to start to improve.
10. Glutathione and anti-ageing, arthritis and cancer
The argument for an inseparable relationship between depressed GSH levels and the progression of ageing couldn’t be more convincing. Without exception, GSH levels drop as the body ages. A statistical study examining an elderly population compared GSH blood levels of the healthy adults with a similarly-aged group of unhealthy individuals. GSH levels in the healthy group were significantly higher, further suggesting a basic role of depressed GSH levels in the process of aging, or at least in the diseases commonly associated with aging. Most of the diseases associated with aging — such as arthritis, heart disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, and some cancers — worsen more rapidly in the face of a significant GSH deficiency.
Choose a liposomal GSH for real health benefits that make a difference
Amazingly enough, medicine and physiology are becoming less complex as time goes on, as quality research continues to accumulate. Sometimes, something too good to be true, really is true. This is certainly the case with high quality and properly dosed antioxidants. And now, liposome encapsulated GSH and vitamin C are proving to be the most elite and spectacularly successful of antioxidant supplementation available. Oral liposome encapsulation technology is proving to make many costly and painful intravenous administrations largely unnecessary. The dawn of a new medicine has arrived! A good quality source or liposomal GSH is manufactured by LivOn Labs with the Altrient trade mark.
Please note - This article was created and edited by Food Scientist Susie Debice using extracts from the booklet GSH Master Defender by Dr Levy MD.
- By Jackie Newson
- BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Therapy
Jackie has been writing for a range of health publications since graduating as a nutritional therapist from Westminster University in 2008. In addition to producing health and nutrition workshops, Jackie is also an experienced assessor and enjoys the opportunity to help other students of nutrition to achieve their goals. In her role as an experienced nutritional therapist, Jackie offers individualised advice on a variety of health conditions. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of healthy nutritious food, supported with high quality supplementation to achieve optimal health. Jackie is a great believer in the power of positive thinking and attributes much of her enthusiasm and sense of well-being to the wonderful people in her life, a healthy diet and yoga which she practices regularly.