Glutathione – The Master Anti-Oxidant

It has been well established that antioxidants play a vital role in health maintenance and disease protection. (1).

While it is common knowledge that vitamin C and vitamin E are health preserving antioxidants that may be delivered to the human cell via dietary or supplemental means, scant awareness of the uniquely protective health benefits of GLUTATHIONE is rife amongst health professionals and the wider public.

ANTI-OXIDANT:

Glutathione is a small, yet powerful, antioxidant which is manufactured within the cells of the human body, where it functions to neutralise harmful intra-cellular free radicles and toxins, thereby protecting and preserving the normal, health giving properties of human cells, particularly those of the immune system.

The protective properties of Glutathione provide for an exceptionally wide range of health benefits, accruing from enhanced immunity and optimal cellular functioning,  and resulting in protection against a wide range of chronic human disorders, which include cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many age related diseases. (2).
In children with cystic fibrosis muscle performance was improved through immune system enhancement with Glutathione  and young athletes, with increased levels of intracellular Glutathione improved their muscle performance by up to 13%.  (3)

Intense and prolonged muscle activity by high performance athletes generates oxyradicles which lead to muscle fatigue or injury,  leading in turn to poor performance or delayed tissue healing. (4).

Glutathione has the capacity to neutralise these oxyradicles and provide essential protection for high performance muscle cells.

ANTI-VIRAL ACTIONS:

In addition to anti-oxidant potential there is well demonstrated anti-viral activity of Glutathion, with  corresponding pro-viral conditions occuring during Glutathione depletion. (5).

Thus, optimising the immune system during bouts of infection, or throughout the aging process,  or when exposed to environmental toxins, is a wise interventive strategy with proven health benefits, and made possible by maintaining adequate cellular  Glutathione.

ANTI-CANCER PROPERTIES:

The rapidly expanding toxic environment from which we breathe air, drink water and receive our dietary nutrients renders us vulnerable to premature aging or disease processes that are often beyond our control.

Our best line of defence is a proactive decision to secure the integrity of our immune system by enhancing cellular Glutathione synthesis.

Glutathione protection is a wise choice in our present circumstances of increased environmental toxicity, marked by industrial waste products  and pollutants, such as fuel exhausts, radiation exposure and cigarette smoke inhalation. (6).

The carcinogenic properties of  industrial, and some  domestic household products, are well established, as are several of the sun-screen lotions innocuously presented as protective against skin cancer !

Preliminary results indicate that Glutathione levels alter the impact of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in laboratory cancer grown cells, (7) and that elevated levels of Glutathione in tumour cells are able to protect cancerous cells in bone marrow, breast, colon, larynx, and lung cancers. (8).

Solar radiation arising from depletion of the ozone layer, or from unchecked  overexposure to ultraviolet radiation,  represents another hidden risk to health, including skin cancer, which may benefit from Glutathione enhanced immunity.

GLUTATHIONE – STRUCTURE AND SOURCE:

Many clinical studies demonstrate that Glutathione acts as  “master antioxidant” and major cellular detoxifier.

During the evolution of mammalian cells numerous intricate mechanisms developed to provide cellular protection against destructive oxidative processes.

The synthesis of Glutathione takes place in all human cells and derives from dietary protein containing adequate levels of Cystine , each molecule being split into 2 molecules of Cysteine, and then  bonded to Glutamate and Glycine to form the Glutathione molecule.

Glutathione is thus a naturally occurring protein that exists in a tripeptide form, comprised of three amino acids, Glutamate, Glycine and  Cysteine.

Glutamate and Glycine  are available from dietary protein, but Cysteine cannot be ingested orally, since it is degraded in the gut and in the blood, and needs to be absorbed during digestion in another form.

Cysteine is also potentially toxic making it an unlikely dietary choice for assimilation into the Glutathion molecule.

For this reason oral Glutathione supplements are virtually ineffective, since the molecule is degraded in the stomach before it can be incorporated into cellular structures.
Oral Glutathione, given in a dose of 3 grams, was found in a clinical study to be ineffective in raising blood levels of Glutathione.  (9)   The intravenous administration of  Glutathione, however, was found to be effective, but expensive, uncomfortable, and not practical, requiring infusions twice weekly to maintain adequate levels.

It is inevitable then, that alternative methods of providing Glutathione would be required to maintain adequate cellular levels for protective purposes.

Despite the toxic and unstable nature of Cysteine, it is the amino acid that is largely responsible for the biological activity of Glutathione, since being a sulphur based amino acid, it serves as the important proton donor through its sulphydrol (SH) group.

Cysteine must therefore be provided in another form that will permit its bioavailablity and incorporation into the Glutathione molecule.

This occurs when Cystine is ingested in a protein form, such as undenatured whey protein. In this form Cystine exists as a dimeric amino acid, (2 molecules).

Cystine is formed by oxidation from 2 molecules of Cysteine and linked by a weak disulphide bond (S-S) which is split within the cell body allowing the release of 2 molecules of Cysteine.  (Cystine = Cysteine –S-S- Cysteine ).

Cysteine is thus released, within the cell, bypassing degradation in the gut or bloodstream, and incorporated into the Glutathione molecule, composed of Cysteine, Glycine and Glutamate.

It is important to understand this concept of  structuring the Glutathione molecule, since it is unavailable through oral ingestion, and the levels of Cystine in the diet serve as the rate limiting step in the  synthesis of Glutathione, which can only be synthesised INSIDE THE HUMAN CELL.

While dietary protein containing Cystine is available, novel ways of stimulating Glutathione synthesis using nano – technology have been studied.

THE LIVER AS A DETOXIFYING ORGAN:

The liver  serves as a major detoxifying agent in the body and functions more efficiently when Glutathione levels are adequate. It may  fail to perform this vital function if subjected to a constant bombardment of external or internal toxins in the absence of intracellular Glutathione protection.

Glutathione activity in the liver cells protect against harmful radiation, ingested and inhaled pollutants, and heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium, as well as the harmful and unwanted  effects of many pharmacological drugs.

Glutathione also acts to reconstitute the anti-oxidant vitamins C and E after they have been oxidized during their protective activities.

Glutathione thus neutralises many of the intracellular toxic substances before they can damage other intracellular molecules or vital components within the cell body.  The harmful by products of normal  cellular metabolism are likewise destroyed, protecting the cell from their destructive actions.

The regulation of cellular events , which include gene expression, DNA and protein synthesis,  cellular signalling, cytokine production, and immune responses to harmful agents are important functions that depend upon Glutathione activity, which may in turn halt the progression of many common disease processes, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anaemia, HIV, AIDS, cancer, stroke and diabetes. (10).

A 2004 report in the Journal of Nutrition states that “new knowledge of the nutritional regulation of Glutathione metabolism is critical for the development of effective strategies to improve health and to treat these diseases”.

A NEW STRATEGY:

The development of nano-technology and its many applications has been extended to the field of medical research and practice, in which delivery methods for therapeutic molecules to cells of the human body have been explored and tested.

A Human Clinical Pilot Study utilising a LIFEWAVE GLUTATHION  non-transdermal skin patch was conducted by Energy Medicine Research Institute and reported a significant increase in blood Glutathione levels. (11)

The innovative use of these non-transdermal  (non-chemical absorbtion)  patches has been subjected to several trials and clinical studies, and their therapeutic applications in the future look promising. (www.lifewave.com/leinsterclinic)

Dr. Neville Wilson.
The Leinster Clinic.
April, 2011.

REFERENCES:

1. Biochem Pharm 47; 2113-2123, 1994
2. Paul Cheney :
3. Am Lung Assoc Symposium San Diego, 26 April, 1999.
4. Sports Medicine 21;213-238, 1996, Dr. Larry Lands.
5. Paul Cheney :
6. Annual Reviews of Biochem 52: 711-780, 1983.
7. Cancer Epidem Biomarkers & Prevention 16: 1662-6.
8. Cell Biochemistry and Function 22 (The Role of Glutathione in Cancer).
9. Euro J. Clinical Pharm. 1992; 43 (6): 667-9.
10. J Nutr. 2004, Mar 134(3) 489-92
11. Energy Medicine Research Institute Jan 28,2010.

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