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open quote logo graphics Glutathione (GSH) is an essential antioxidant that is needed to protect our body against free radical damage.  close quote logo image

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Experts know how important GSH is in protecting our tissues against reactive oxygen species. However, it is very unfortunate that this supplement doesn't reach our blood when you take this in a pill form. The cream and inhalation formulation are available and they may be absorbed in the body. These are the forms we recommend you use.

The most effective way of getting glutathione into your system is by using an injection formulation.

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Table of Contents

Evidence of Benefits (Leaf Rating System)

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Antioxidant Benefits
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Autism
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Parkinson's Disease
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Male Infertility
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Cancer Prevention

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Suggested Benefits and Traditional Uses

  • antioxidant benefits
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • asthma
  • autism
  • cancer prevention and treatment
  • cataracts
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • dementia
  • detoxification (detox) of the body
  • diabetes
  • glaucoma
  • heart disease (cardiovascular disease)
  • HIV Infection / AIDS
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • liver protection
  • hepatitis
  • male infertility
  • memory loss / dementia
  • oral and pharyngeal cancer
  • osteoarthritis
  • prevention of aging
  • Parkinson's disease treatment
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Facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is glutathione (GSH)?

Glutathione, also known as GSH, is a protein that is made up of three amino acids, cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine.

It is essential for repairing our DNA (genetic material), detoxification, and the prevention damage to the cell (anti-oxidant benefits). It is an essential free radical scavenger, effective at neutralizing oxygen radicals and peroxides that can damage and kill cells.

Research studies in animals show that it is very helpful in helping our body get ride of toxins such as poison, pesticides and heavy metals. Studies done in the lab on cancer cells shows it can prevent against some forms of cancer.

In our liver, it is used in the detoxification process such as protection from toxins from cigarettes, alcohol and overdose of certain medications.

What health conditions do this supplement help treat or cure?

Click here to jump to the section on suggested benefits and traditional uses.

What health problems would cause low levels of GSH?

Several ailments seem to be linked to low levels of GSH. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, low sperm count or motility, HIV/AIDS, cancer and cataracts.

As well, if you smoke, your body uses more GSH to fight off the toxins found in tobacco smoke.

Does this supplement help with the skin?

This supplement is used on the skin for cosmetic purposes. It can slow down the production of melanin (a protein produced by melanocytes that gives your skin the brown colour). In some countries, it is marketed as bleaching cream or soap.

I've heard glutathione helps to treat or cure autism. Is that true?

There are clinical studies suggest that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) might caused by too little glutathione present to protect the brain cells for oxidative stress.

In one study, children with autism shows "lowered glutathione reserve capacity" and that this may "compromise antioxidant defense and detoxification capacity".

The researchers suggest that GSH supplementation might help children suffering from autism.

Is there any evidence that glutathione can help prevent cancer?

GSH reduces the amount of reactive oxygen species that may be a cause of cancer cell growth. Experts strongly believe that the depletion of GSH can be an important cause of some forms of cancer.

Studies will need to be done in animals and humans to prove that GSH can prevent cancer.

Is there any evidence that GSH helps with Parkinson's disease?

Many studies show that people with Parkinson's disease has lower levels of GSH in the part of the brain involved in this disease. It is at least 40 to 50% lower.

In one clinical study, patients treated with intravenous GSH showed improvements in symptoms when they were given 600 mg twice daily for 30 days. The benefits lasted for 2 to 4 month after GSH was stopped.

The researchers suspect that low levels of GSH can speed up nerve cell death in those people suffering from Parkinson's disease. They believe it is because GSH has potent antioxidant effects.

Does GSH help with infertility in males?

Yes. A well designed clinical study showed that intramuscular GSH injection at a dose of 600 mg every other day for 2 months improved sperm motility significantly. Other studies showed that GSH can increase sperm counts.

The researchers suggested that GSH injections could represent a possible solution to treat certain types of infertility.

What foods contain glutathione?

Foods rich in this supplement include fruits, walnuts, vegetables and fish and meat sources.

I've heard that the pills do not get absorbed by the body. Is that true?

Unfortunately, it seems that the pill form doesn't get into our body. Taking high dose of glutathione doesn't affect the blood level of this supplement. One study in healthy volunteers used a 3,000 mg dose and it has absolutely no effect on blood levels. Expert suspect this supplement is destroyed by stomach acid and digestive enzymes in the intestine.

Studies done in rats show that giving them this supplement in their diet caused the blood levels to increase. However, this is because the rat's intestine is missing an enzyme thus the glutathione is not destroyed.

Scientists are experimenting with other formulations such as nose sprays, injections, and oral dissolving tablets to see if these ways are able to get the protein into our body. (This is the same reason why insulin, also a protein, needs to be injected by diabetic patients.)

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Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

What are some of the side effects of taking glutathione?

Fortunately, there are very few reported side effects from taking this supplement.

There are also no known interactions with other herbs or prescription medications.

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Dosage & How to Take It

What dose is usually used in a pill form?

The dosage used ranges from 500 mg to 3,000 mg daily (divided to two or three times daily). However studies show that even taking a 3,000 mg dose, it does not have any effect on blood levels.

For injections, what is the usual dose used?

Typical intramuscular injected dose is 600 mg every other day for 2 months for treating infertility in males. We advise using the injectable formulation under the supervision of your family doctor.

For the nasal spray formulation, what is the dose?

In a nose spray formulation, research studies used 600 mg twice daily.

Is there a transdermal or patch formulation?

Yes, a transdermal formulation can be purchased from many companies. Pharmacies that compound can also make it up. There is no typical dose. Concentration can be 10% to 20% in a penetrating cream or gel base (PLO Gel).

Selected References for Glutathione
Revised: November 5, 2009

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