GLUTATHIONE –  Master Anti-oxidant

Lifewave’s Glutathione phototherapy patches, help stimulate/elevate the body’s master anti-oxidant levels up to 340% in a 24 hour period.  When glutathione levels elevate the the body starts getting rid of toxins from major organs of elimination, liver, kidneys, lungs, skin. Patches come in a packet of 30, can be applied to specific areas on skin or clothing, as shown in the instructions.  They are active for around 24 hours or a bit longer.  Can be used on daily basis.  A great investment in health, that does not interfere with medications, not advised when a person needs to use immuno suppresants, as in organ transplant, or pregnancy.

  • One of the most amazing things that was discovered in this review of glutathione was – that individuals with all types of chronic illnesses characteristically have low glutathione levels (Kharb et al., 2000). Many researchers have now determined that the ability to maintain high levels of glutathione in the body is one of the strongest indicators of good health. “The conclusion is that a decrease in GSH is a risk factor for chronic diseases that may be used to monitor the severity and progress of the diseases (Lang et al., 2000).”
  • Some examples of Conditions Involving and Responsive to Glutathione:
    • Chronic diseases
    • Pulmonary disease
    • Degenerative brain conditions
    • HIV infection
    • Acute pancreatitis
    • Burn injuries
    • Cancer
    • Viral Infections
    • Immune dysfunctions
    • Diabetes
    • Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Strokes and heart attacks

Glutathione is the master antioxidant of the body.  It is composed of three amino acids (cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid), is present in high concentration both in the bloodstream and inside of cells. When combined together in this form, these amino acids provide the cells with an essential compound that is a critical part of the body’s natural defense system (Lomaestro et al., 1995). Glutathione has to be continually manufactured because it is constantly being utilized to protect the cells of the body.

Glutathione is an important cellular antioxidant that protects cells against oxidative stress, and it has a critical role in cellular detoxification. Glutathione along with ascorbic acid, the major dietary water-soluble antioxidant, plays a central role in the regulation of the oxidation state inside of cells (Meister, 1994). A reduction in glutathione levels in the bloodstream and in the cells has been implicated in numerous diseases. In addition, thousands of medical articles show evidence that therapies that renormalize glutathione levels are beneficial in these same conditions.

Blood glutathione levels have been identified as being one of the most important indicators of overall health.  As the master antioxidant in the body glutathione has a range of diverse metabolic functions including acting as a free radical scavenger, “recharging” depleted antioxidants back into their active state (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, etc.), maintaining the immune system, supporting protein structures, promoting amino acid uptake by cells, synthesis and repair of DNA, detoxifying drugs and chemical toxins, and removing heavy metals such as mercury (Fraternale et al., 2006). “It is known that GSH is not transported to most cells and tissues in a free form (Fraternale et al., 2006).”

The present methodologies for elevating glutathione levels include oral supplementation of glutathione, oral supplementation of the amino acid glutathione precursors, use of nutritive substances that support enzymatic glutathione production and injection of glutathione.  Each of these methods has severe draw backs.  For example, it is known that glutathione is destroyed by stomach acids making oral supplementation ineffective.  While oral supplementation of amino acid precursors and glutathione enzyme cofactors does often show elevated levels of blood glutathione levels by 10-40% after four weeks of use; these results are unpredictable and they are time- and dose-dependent. These supplements include: whey protein, selenium, lipoic acid, NAC, glutamine, glycine, vitamin C, and Vitamin E. However the effectiveness of supplements to improve glutathione levels is dependent upon many factors including patient compliance, age, level of exposure to environmental toxins and the need to ingest the supplements multiple times during the day in order to maintain adequate glutathione levels.

Many Drugs Deplete Glutathione:

The medical literature contains thousands of articles about how different chemicals and drugs deplete glutathione levels in the body. This section will review several representative examples.

  • Paracetamol is the name of an analgesic agent that is widely used as an over the counter pain medication in countries around the world. In the USA the drug is known as acetaminophen. In 1993 it was reported that 200–300 deaths occurred every year from paracetamol poisoning in the UK (Spooner, 1993). In the USA overdoses of prescription and nonprescription drugs containing acetaminophen results in more calls to poison control centers in the US than do overdoses of any other medication, accounting for more than 100,000 calls, as well as 56,000 emergency room visits, and 458 deaths due to acute liver failure per year (Lee, 2004).  A report on the cases acute liver failure by the CDC between 2000 and 2004 determined that acetaminophen toxicity was the cause in 41% of adult cases of liver failure (Bower et al., 2007).
  • Acetaminophen (APAP) hepatotoxicity is currently the single most important cause of acute liver failure in the US, and is associated with a significant number of deaths (Liu et al., 2006).”
  • The reason for the deaths from acute liver failure after acetaminophen overdose results from acute depletion of liver glutathione levels. Glutathione is a critical antioxidant molecule involved in the detoxification of acetaminophen/paracetamol in the liver. If a person does not receive immediate treatment with glutathione producing substances, the liver will fail and then the only other treatment is a liver transplant.
  • The acute treatment of poisoning with this analgesic involves using antidotes such as intravenous infusions of N-acetylcysteine or alpha-lipoic acid, which are nutrients used by the body to produce glutathione (Norman et al., 2001). In 1977, Dr. Burton M. Berkson also discovered that alpha-lipoic acid, which generates glutathione production in the liver, could also save the livers of individuals suffering from mushroom poisoning (Berkson, 1979)
  • Mild cases of liver toxicity are often treated with oral doses of N-acetylcysteine, alpha-lipoic acid or the essential amino acid methionine, which serve as substrates for glutathione synthesis. In addition, the use glutathione promoting compounds like alpha-lipoic acid along with silymarin and selenium can be beneficial in some individuals suffering from viral hepatitis because of their ability to regenerate antioxidants and protect the liver from free-radical damage (Berkson, 1999).
  • The problem of liver dysfunction with use of analgesics is wide-spread and is not limited just to individuals who take drug over doses. Millions of people suffer from chronic pain just in the USA. It is a common medical policy for doctors to tell their patients to take acetaminophen containing analgesics with a typical dose being two tablets or capsules four times a day. Unfortunately, one-third of individuals who use 4 grams of acetaminophen daily may have an increase in their liver function tests to three times their normal value (Watkins et al., 2006). Some clinicians believe that such chronic use of acetaminophen containing medications can cause chronic liver failure.
  • Drugs commonly used in anesthesia practice may create oxidative stress and glutathione depletion in peripheral T cells. “This mechanism could contribute to the immune suppression that occurs transiently in the early postoperative period (Delogu et al., 2004).” This type of research supports the need to support glutathione levels in individuals who are undergoing surgical procedures where anesthetic agents are used. In addition, maintaining glutathione levels in individuals who are recovering from injuries and surgery is beneficial because of the positive response that glutathione has on wound healing (Kopal et al., 2007).

Immune System and Glutathione:

  • The immune system requires glutathione to function
  • When glutathione is depleted immune system function declines
  • Infections of all types cause glutathione depletion
  • The immune system works best if the lymphoid cells have adequate levels of glutathione. Even small reductions in the intracellular glutathione level have profound effects on lymphocyte and immune functions.
  • Glutathione is involved in T-cell activation low glutathione could affect the outcome of the immune response during systemic diseases and aging (Kim, 2007).
  • “Glutathione deficiency impairs macrophage and T-cell function. Because glutathione depletion may occur in sepsis, trauma, and shock, treatments that help maintain glutathione levels may enhance immunocompetence and thus improve the ability of patients to recover from critical illness (Robinson et al., 1993).”
  • Infection and trauma produce inflammatory stress in the body (Grimble, 1997). When inflammation is prolonged tissue damage, enhanced inflammatory mediator production and suppressed lymphocyte function may occur as a consequence.
  • In addition, chronic inflammation predisposes susceptible cells to undergo cancerous transformation. In general, the longer the inflammation persists, the higher the risk of cancer. Inflammatory processes may induce DNA mutations in cells via oxidative stress. DNA mutation and mitochondrial dysfunction occurs when the generation of free radicals in a system exceeds the system’s antioxidant protection (Federico et al., 2007).
  • “In sepsis, a state of severe oxidative stress is encountered; with host endogenous antioxidant defenses overcome (Macdonald et al., 2003).”
  • “Glutathione depletion in skeletal muscle is pronounced following major trauma and sepsis in intensive care unit patients. Also, following elective surgery, glutathione depletion occurs in parallel with a progressive decline in muscle glutamine concentration (Fläring et al., 2003).”
  • Certain cellular functions, such as DNA synthesis are disrupted by oxidative stress; however DNA synthesis is favored by high levels of the antioxidant glutathione (Dröge et al., 2000).

Glutathione and Cancer:

  • Glutathione may be beneficial in cancer therapies
  • Some oncologists recommend that patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy should not use supplemental antioxidants and other nutrients. The concern that these oncologist’s have is that use of antioxidants might interfere with radiation and some chemotherapies. “This is despite the common use of amifostine and dexrazoxane, 2 prescription antioxidants, during chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy (Simone et al., 2007).”
  • “The MEDLINE and CANCERLIT databases were searched from 1965 to November 2003 using the words vitamins, antioxidants, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Bibliographies of articles were searched. All studies reporting concomitant nutrient use with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy (280 peer-reviewed articles including 62 in vitro and 218 in vivo) were indiscriminately included. RESULTS: Fifty human clinical randomized or observational trials have been conducted, involving 8,521 patients using beta-carotene; vitamins A, C, and E; selenium; cysteine; B vitamins; vitamin D3; vitamin K3; and glutathione as single agents or in combination. CONCLUSIONS: Since the 1970s, 280 peer-reviewed in vitro and in vivo studies, including 50 human studies involving 8,521 patients, 5,081 of whom were given nutrients, have consistently shown that do not interfere with therapeutic modalities for cancer. Furthermore, non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients enhance the killing of therapeutic modalities for cancer, decrease their side effects, and protect normal tissue. In 15 human studies, 3,738 patients who took non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients actually had increased survival (Simone et al., 2007).”
  • Glutathione treatment has been shown to be an effective in reducing toxicity and side effects in individuals with ovarian cancer who are treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. “Quality of life scores demonstrated that for patients receiving GSH there was a statistically significant improvement in depression, emesis, peripheral neurotoxicity, hair loss, shortness of breath and difficulty concentrating. As an indication of overall activity, these patients were statistically significantly more able to undertake housekeeping and shopping (Smyth et al., 1997).”
  • “Application of Cisplatin and Glutathione seems to be safe and feasible and the antitumoral efficacy of cisplatin is apparently not impaired by the concomitant use of Glutathione in patients with solid tumors (Schmidinger et al., 2000).”
  • Many individuals will develop neurological symptoms when given chemotherapy agents. Some studies have shown that chemotherapy agents lower glutathione levels in brain tissue and that the use of glutathione can reduce brain toxicity (Cascinu et al., 2002).
  • An imbalance in oxidant/antioxidant levels in the cells and tissues is a major cause of cell damage and is the hallmark for lung inflammation. Glutathione is a vital protective antioxidant, which plays a key role in the control of inflammatory processes in the lungs (Rahman, 2005). Oxidative stress is an important feature in the causation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Controlling oxidative stress with antioxidants or boosting the endogenous levels of antioxidants such as glutathione is likely to be beneficial in the treatment of COPD (Rahman, 2006).
  • Detrimental changes occur in the brain and nervous system when oxidative stress overwhelms the oxidative defense systems, such as glutathione (Reynolds et al., 2007). In the central nervous system glutathione protects against reactive oxygen species , infections and toxic substances. Conditions that result in marked reductions of glutathione levels inside of brain cells and mitochondria are associated with cell death (Cooper et al., 1997).
  • Blood levels of glutathione are typically low in individuals with HIV infections (Delmas-Beauvieux et al., 1996; Look et al., 1997). “Neuronal damage in HIV infection results mainly from chronic activation of brain tissue and involves inflammation, oxidative stress, and glutamate-related neurotoxicity. Glutamate toxicity acts via two distinct pathways: an excitotoxic one, in which glutamate receptors are hyperactivated, and an oxidative one, in which cystine uptake is inhibited, resulting in glutathione depletion, oxidative stress, and cell degeneration (Gras et al., 2006).”
  • Numerous studies have shown that HIV patients who receive treatments that raise glutathione levels have less medical complications.
  •  “The role of oxidative stress in acute pancreatitis has been evidenced indirectly by beneficial effects of antioxidants as well as directly by pancreatic glutathione depletion and increased lipid peroxidation (Gómez-Cambronero et al., 2002).”
  • In burn patients increased free radical production is paralleled by impaired antioxidant mechanisms; as indicated by burn-related decreases in superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione, alpha tocopherol, and ascorbic acid levels. “These data collectively support the hypothesis that cellular oxidative stress is a critical step in burn-mediated injury, and suggest that antioxidant strategies designed to either inhibit free radical formation or to scavage free radicals may provide organ protection in patients with burn injury (Horton, 2003).”
  • “Decreased glutathione levels have been found in numerous diseases such as cancer, viral infections, and immune dysfunctions (Fraternale et al., 2006).”
  • “Antioxidant molecules, such as GSH can inhibit viral replication (Fraternale et al., 2006).”
  • Glutathione levels are typically lower in both Type I and Type II diabetics (Ozdemir et al., 2005; Likidlidlid et al., 2007). “Analyses of whole blood GSH showed that GSH was significantly lower in diabetic cases compared to the other groups (Samiec et al., 1998).”
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus are two chronic inflammatory conditions which have been associated with low levels of serum and erythrocyte glutathione when compared to normal (Fidelus et al., 1987).
  • Glutathione levels as measured by erythrocyte glutathione are low in the blood of individuals with osteoarthritis (Surapaneni et al., 2007).
  • Acute strokes and acute myocardial infarctions create severe oxidative stress on the body. The body will initially respond adaptively by increasing the production of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione in order to protect and preserve surviving tissues (Zimmermann et al., 2004). This places severe demands on the production of antioxidants like glutathione. If and when the demands overwhelm the production of endogenous antioxidants like glutathione, antioxidant levels including glutathione levels fall and tissue damage becomes more severe. This is particularly critical in the first week following an ischemic event when antioxidant enzyme concentrations are decreased below normal levels (Cherubini et al., 2000; Demirkaya et al., 2001). Maintaining adequate levels of antioxidants in individuals with vascular disease and in individuals who have ischemic events can help reduce medical complications. Although acceptance of the need for aggressive antioxidant support is not universally accepted in mainstream medicine many clinicians and researchers have found that approaches that prevent exhaustion of antioxidant levels like glutathione in both acute and chronic medical conditions are very beneficial (Berger et al., 2007).
  • by: Steve Haltiwanger, MD, CCN


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