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Glutathione Basics

If you have even a passing interest in better health, disease resistance and longevity, you will want to know a few basics about glutathione (GSH).

Glutathione is made in the body so isn't an essential nutrient per se. That doesn't tell the whole story, however as people of different ages and different genetic types have different abilities to make glutathione. As we age, the levels of glutathione tend to drop and with this drop comes an increase in susceptibility to disease in general.

Some people have trouble making glutathione from the start. Several good studies have shown that kids with ASD or autistic spectrum disorder have seriously low levels of glutathione.

Other good studies have shown that serious environmental toxins like lead, cadmium and mercury don't cause problems until the glutathione levels are depleted.

An IV solution of glutathione is the treatment for exposure to anthrax. The deadly effects of anthrax result from the toxic metabolites of the bacteria. Glutathione is very effective at neutralizing the toxins but has to be in higher levels than the body can normally produce, hence the IV treatment.

A glutathione precursor is used negate the effects of acetaminophen overdoses. You can imagine how generally low levels of glutathione would leave you more susceptible to the effects of repeated exposure to more typical doses of Tylenol and other drugs.

So why don't we just take some glutathione pills and that would be that? It isn't that easy because part of the body's genius with respect to glutathione is its simplicity. It consists of three fairly common amino acids. That also means that GSH is easily broken down in the digestive tract. When you take glutathione as a supplement, some of it might get through to the blood but some will be just be digested and used as your body sees fit as it would any other simple peptide.

Since the importance of glutathione was becoming more known, different researchers looked for ways to increase blood levels. For some advanced disease states, some doctors have found great benefit in a series of IV treatments. Some have supplemented using glutathione locked in fat globules (liposomal) that can pass directly to the blood stream. Some rely on precursors and herbs that help the body reuse glutathione that has been oxidized in the detox process.

The most novel approach is by a friend of mine, David Schmidt. He has learned how to encode special band-aid like patches that signal the body to produce more glutathione. Clinical trials show about an average of about 300% in blood levels in just a few hours. He formed a company called LifeWave to distribute these and other patches. We personally have been using these with excellent results for about 10 years.

Generally we recommend a combination of two products to increase blood levels of glutathione. The first is LifeWave Glutathione Patches. You will use these two to three times per week. They work fine on the midline about two inches below the belly button. Exact placement isn't critical so don't obsess about it. You leave them on about 12-14 hours or so, that is put them on when you get up in the morning and then take it off when you go to bed. The effects continue for a couple of days so you won't have to repeat every day unless you are fighting some particular health problem.

The other product is NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) by NuMedica. NAC is an important GSH precursor.

If you have been exposed to high levels of toxins of any kind including cigarette smoke, you might have to start slowly with the glutathione therapy. Too much too fast isn't dangerous but can be quite uncomfortable if you remove too many toxins too quickly. You can experience, headaches, malaise and other symptoms typical of rapid detox. If that's the case, the worst thing you can do is quit and say it isn't working. It is working, you just have to take a break for a few days and then start again. Eventually you will be able to handle taking the NuMedica NAC every day and the LifeWave Patches two to three times a week with nothing but positive effects.