Glutathione is one of the main methods of cellular detoxification, Glutathione can bind to heavy metals, pesticides, mold toxins, and other toxic compounds, and carry them out of the cell. Glutathione also can facilitate and control the immune system. Being the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione can also control inflammation. Glutathione levels can decline with aging, and maintaining adequate levels of glutathione is critical to maintaining health.
Many conditions are associated with low glutathione levels.
There are genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors that can influence glutathione levels. When there is not enough glutathione, toxins cannot be adequately cleared from the cells, and free radicals cannot be quenched, leading to excessive inflammation and damage.
The effects of IV glutathione on a man with Parkinson’s:
Glutathione is created through the methylation cycle.
If something in the methylation cycle is not working correctly, glutathione production is reduced. In the realm of lyme disease, the most common cause of low glutathione levels is krypto-pyrroluria (KPU), sometimes also referred to as hemo-pyrrole-lactam-uria (HPU). KPU is a condition where molecules called pyrroles are created that bind to nutrients like zinc and b6, causing a deficiency. Methylation, and therefore glutathione production, is dependent on zinc and B6.
Ideally, you want the body to produce adequate levels of glutathione endogenously. This requires replacing the deficient nutrients needed for production. In KPU, this means taking high doses of zinc and B6, as well as other nutrients. Folate, B12, and other nutrients may also be needed to upregulate methylation. Supplements like vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, and N acetyl-cysteine are often used to supply the body with the building blocks to create glutathione. Whey protein has also been shown to increase glutathione levels.
Taking exogenous glutathione can also be beneficial for those who have issues making it endogenously.
Glutathione is a peptide, and when taken orally it has poor absorption. Liposomal glutathione is the most commonly used form, and has good absorption through the oral mucosa. Sublingual acetyl-glutathione lozenges are also available, but there is less evidence of its absorption. Glutathione can also be absorbed through the skin from creams or patches.
There are prescription options for glutathione as well. Intravenous glutathione offers the best absorption along with injections, and is often used to reduce the symptoms of a herxhiemer reaction. Glutathione can also be compounded for inhalation via a nebulizer, as it has good absorption through the lungs. This has more of a local effect on the lungs.
When using exogenous glutathione, more is not always better. Some people feel great right away, but many people have strong detox side effects when taking it and have to start with very small amounts, gradually working up. The end goal is to ultimately get your body to produce all of the glutathione it needs, but supplementation can be good for acute stressors or toxic exposures such as an acute illness, alcohol consumption, or airplane travel.