Glutathione is synthesized in the body from 3 amino acids: Cysteine, glutamine and glycine. Cysteine is one of the sulfur containing amino acids used for the synthesis of glutathione, which is very critical in detoxification. N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is the rate limiting amino acid for the production of glutathione within the cells of the body, has mucolytic properties, and is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. Some research indicates that NAC is more readily absorbed into certain cells of the body than glutathione and is therefore an excellent synergist with glutathione. The thiol group is the active part of the molecule which serves as a reducing agent to prevent oxidation of tissues. GSH, is a relatively small molecule found in all life forms. GSH is water-soluble and its intracellular depletion ultimately results in cell death and its clinical relevance has been researched for decades.
GSH is the smallest intracellular thiol molecule. It has very high electron-donating capacity (high negative redox potential) combined with high intracellular concentration (millimolar levels), which generate great reducing power. It is therefore a potent antioxidant with powerful enzyme cofactor properties. Oxidative stressors that can deplete GSH include ultraviolet and other radiation; viral infections; environmental toxins, household chemicals, and heavy metals; surgery, inflammation, burns, septic shock; and dietary deficiencies of GSH precursors and enzyme cofactors.
GSH equivalents circulate in the blood predominantly as cystine, the oxidized and more stable form of cysteine. Cells import cystine from the blood, reconvert it to cysteine (likely using ascorbate as cofactor), and from it synthesize GSH. Conversely, inside the cell GSH helps re-reduce oxidized forms of other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E.
GSH is an extremely important cell protectant. It directly quenches reactive hydroxyl free radicals, other oxygen-centered free radicals, and radical centers on DNA and other biomolecules. GSH is a primary protectant of skin, lens, cornea, and retina against radiation damage, and the biochemical foundation of P450 detoxication in the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestinal epithelia, and other organs. GSH is used in treating HIV infection, liver cirrhosis, pulmonary disease, crohn’s disease, circulatory problems, Wilson’s disease, pancreatic inflammation, diabetes, neurodegerative disease, and aging.
It is thought that GSH is not systemically bioavailable when given by mouth. However, copious data confirm it is efficiently absorbed across the intestinal epithelium, by a specific uptake system. Such breakdown of circulating GSH does not rule out its oral use for GI conditions such as Crohn's Disease.
Perlmutter reported case histories indicating success with GSH repletion in various neurodegenerative diseases. He reported marked benefit from its intravenous administration in Parkinson's, and successful oral application of orthomolecular GSH precursors to cases of Alzheimer's, stroke, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and post-polio syndrome.
(Source: online edition of Glutathione, Reduced (GSH): Technical Monograph in Alternative Medicine Review - Volume 6, Number 6, December 2001http://www.woodmed.com/Glutathione%202002.htm)
Glutathione is considered to be the most powerful, most versatile, and most important of the body's self-generated antioxidants. Among glutathione's many important properties are:
1) Is found in almost all living cells. The liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, and the lens and cornea, have the highest concentrations in the body.
2) It is a powerful antioxidant and thus neutralizes free radicals and prevents their formation
3) Important role in immune function via white blood cell production and is one of the most potent anti-viral agents known
4) It is one of the strongest anti-cancer agents manufactured by the body,
5) Glutathione is able to reduce oxidized Vitamin C and Vitamin E back to their unoxidized state,
6) It is used by the liver to detoxify many toxins including formaldehyde, acetaminophen, benzpyrene and many other compounds and plays a key role in Phase I and Phase II detoxification reactions
7) It is an antioxidant necessary for the protection of proteins; is involved in nucleic acid synthesis and plays a role in DNA repair,
8) It maintains the cellular redox potential
9) Glutathione levels decrease with age. It is involved in cellular differentiation and slows the aging process
10) Protects the integrity of red blood cells
11) Glutathione is involved in maintaining normal brain function.
Glutathione Abstracts (23)
Glutathione Citations (64)