The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione

The Benefits of Glutathione - The master antioxidant

There is an amazing antioxidant that many people are deficient in and that can be easily depleted by our modern lifestyle. It is the tripeptide Glutathione and it is the body’s most potent detoxifying and antioxidant agent.

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a compound involved as a coenzyme in oxidation–reduction reactions in cells. It is a tripeptide derived from glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine.

The body naturally produces it, though many people don’t make enough to counteract the modern factors that deplete it like stress, exposure to harmful chemicals and certain pharmaceutical drugs.

Benefits of Glutathione

Glutathione has been extensively studied for its ability to slow aging, reduce the chance of degenerative disease, improve mental performance and more.

Dr. Mark Hyman called it “the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.”

It helps the body produce and recycle antioxidants, which is vital for maintaining cellular health. When it is depleted, this process is inhibited and free radicals can build up in the body.

Additionally, it binds with harmful chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins in the body and carries them into the bile and the stool so they are excreted. It has been used for helping those with immune disorders, autism, digestive disorders like colitis, cardiovascular diseases and other problems.

I personally have used it to help keep my autoimmune disease in check and to reduce inflammation when I have a flare. I also make sure to get enough food and supplemental sources of glutathione and its precursors when pregnant to avoid inflammation and cellular stress as much as possible.

As Dr. Ben Lynch explained in this podcast, those with gene mutations and impaired methylation have a higher chance of deficiency as these methylation nutrients are needed for glutathione production. I also supplement with L-MTHF and B-12 for this reason.

Sources of Glutathione

Glutathione is created in the body from glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. Taking these amino acids can help the body naturally produce more, but there are also some great food sources of these building blocks needed to make it:

  • Onions and garlic
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Avocado and walnuts
  • Poultry and egg yolks
  • Non-denatured bioactive whey protein (not tolerated in all people)

It is interesting to note that these foods, especially the onions/garlic and green vegetables are a part of Dr. Terry Wahls protocol that she used to reverse her progressive MS and go from a wheelchair to riding her bike to work. These foods, along with her other suggested food of brightly colored vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants and know to support cellular health.

Supplementing with Glutathione

In the past, it was assumed that it is impossible to supplement since the body breaks down proteins in the digestive process and oral glutathione would not be absorbed.

New forms, like liposomal glutathione, solve this problem, but it is still important to consume a nutrient rich diet that includes the building blocks of glutathione (especially from leafy greens and onions/garlic). I actually use this transdermally (on the skin) over my thyroid and it seems to help.

The supplement N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is shown to naturally increase the body’s production and there is some evidence that Vitamin C can help protect glutathione levels. I supplement with this anyway.

Some naturopathic doctors provide intravenous glutathione injections. This is an effective way to boost levels, though not available in many places.

Have you ever used this or worked to increase your levels?

You May Also Enjoy These Posts...

Reader Interactions

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Be Healthy…

Become a Wellness Mama VIP member for free and get access to my handbooks & quick start guides to help you detox your home, become a master of home remedies, make beauty products from scratch, and conquer mealtime madness!

Yes! Let me in!

Wellness Mama widget banner

Reader Comments

  1. Great article with good information. Just wondering if you knew why glutathione causes my chronic, systemic yeast to flare? Thank you

  2. A friend of mine told me about this. And I took it, but every time I did, I felt like I was getting a UTI. I tried going off and on it, to test it out, and every time, I had that feeling again. Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Oh my goodness! I just had the same thing happen to me twice this year! I’d tried a couple news things at the same time, but I’m almost certain it was the glutathione. I’m almost wondering if it’s not detoxing some heavy metals and other things that are part of the biofilm of a urinary tract infection, and when the detox happens the immune system starts to fight the infection. Whatever it is, is put me in so much pain, I don’t know if I can take it anymore, tried to hang in, but it just kept getting worse….

    • What are you taking to raise your Glutathione? Are you taking Glutathione or one of the precursors.

      Taking precursors is the best way to go so that your cells can produce Glutathione internally.

      As Glutathione is perfectly natural and necessary to a healthy immune system it should not cause you any distress, however you are correct about it causing your body to detox, in a big way.

      Weird things can happen when your body starts expelling garbage that does not belong but it is using to having. We have seen headaches, rashes, flu-like symptoms and more. All are temporary and when gone you have a clean, healthy body.

      What we have also seen is elimination of pain and inflammation, reversal of many chronic disease symptoms, improved sleep, energy and mental focus and a slowing of the aging process. It is well worth the effort.

  3. i have this in a cream as well, where do you apply it on your body?

      • Wellness mama,

        Would you provide a list of all the supplements you take please? I take a regular multivitamin you can find on supermarket shelves but I’m not sure if that’s enough or a good quality.

        Thank you!!! You are such an inspiration. I really appreciate your work.

      • Where do you buy your Liposomal glutathione cream?

          • I’m just starting to research liposomal glutathione. Did you say you use it in a cream? The site above shows it in liquid form. thanks

      • Would this work in this manner for hyperactive thyroid, as well as hypoactive? I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease 11 years ago and the medication isn’t working any more, (Not to mention the side effects!)

  4. It seems lots of people benefit from taking MSM-powder as a supplement (I´m also taking it). One of the reasons is probably because it increases glutathione and helps detoxification and because so many people suffer from impaired detoxification and lack of glutathione (and also the MTHFR-mutation) or what is your opinion?.

    I´ve been trying to research weather MSM is a good supplement for someone with an MTHFR-mutation but the answers seems to be somewehat contradictory. I don´t know if I have the mutation myself but I wouldn´t be surprised if I did considering my history of stress, adrenal fatigue, possible psoriasis (excema on my neck), hormonal imbalances, IBS etc. And also autoimmune conditions on both parents side of the family. I haven´t been taking glutathione as a supplement though, thinking MSM would help and also taking folate (not folic acid) and eating my cruciferous vegetables 🙂

    Thanks for an awesome blog! 🙂

  5. I found also this useful source:
    “Milk thistle is an excellent source of the antioxidant compound silymarin. Silyarmin helps to prevent the depletion of glutathione in the liver. ”

    So it is also important to avoid depletion food like belong to increase glutathione food amounts.

    from http://www.livestrong.com/article/335859-food-sources-of-glutathione/

    Greeting and thanks for all good articles!

    • Milk thistle, while a powerful liver detoxifier, is also known to feed hormone related cancers (breast, uterine, prostate etc.). It should be used only by people who have not had those types of cancers and even then, with a lot of caution.

      • Can you provide a link for that please about milk thistle feeding hormone related cancers.

      • Hi Caroline ~ Would you please provide a reliable source for the information you’ve provided — and by reliable, I mean several double blind, placebo controlled, etc. We all need to be cautious when it comes to the plethora of health information/MIS-information out there. There are so many claims for “whatever ails you” out there, and so much more research to be done on most. I respect those studies that, while they may show significant results, still warn that more research is needed. In my opinion, whenever possible, the whole-foods approach is always safest (of course, I’m referring to organic, 100% pastured, preferably grain-free). I believe our bodies know pretty much what they need–and what they do not! We did not evolve as homo-pill poppers (yes, yes…I know in today’s polluted world, we sometimes have to do what we have to do, but the whole-foods/no processed foods approach seems the best approach, or at the very least, the best place to start. When in doubt, follow the money…

  6. I always wonder how and where do you get your information from? You always come up with something new and exciting. Your blog is a treasure box of knowledge.

  7. I have the gene mutation that caused impaired methylation. My healthcare pro has given me a methylation creme that goes on the inside of my arms twice a day. I also had the lowest glutathione levels that she has ever seen. I use a glutathione cream twice a day that I put on the right side of my tummy where my liver is located. So far, after doing this for 6 months, I have seen significant improvements in how I feel. I’m hoping to get my levels back up of this important antioxidant!

  8. I use glutathione to improve my joint health for activities like running, tennis, and hiking. I hiked the Appalachian Trail and almost had to quit due to knee pain, I was even wearing knee braces. After taking glutathione for a couple of weeks my knees felt great and I no longer needed the braces. I was able to hike the entire trail (2,185 miles) with no more knee problems. Also I was a moderately fit 24 year old when I did the A.T., with no history of knee problems, just for reference.

  9. So I take upgraded self glutathione. A true blessing from God He led us to when my husband underwent aggressive chemo last year. Unbelievable side effect management. Helps me with the Hashimotos and methylation issues. Question: did u move away from the upgraded self to liposomal exclusively? Thx!

    • What is “upgraded self glutathione” and how is it different from liposomal?

  10. I would add asparagus and turmeric as good sources of glutathione.

  11. I have read about a protocol for vaccine detox for babies that includes liposomal glutathione. Thoughts? Have you given it to your kids?

  12. Do you only use it liposomally now? I thought you posted once that you took the upgraded self brand?

  13. I use transdermal NAC and glutathion on my daughter with autism. Someone commented about yeast flare up, this can happen with many supplements. Fighting yeast is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t let that stop you from adding things that your body needs. The healthier you are, the easier it becomes to run that marathon.

    • May I ask what type of transdermal NAC you are using. It was advised for us to start NAC with my son but I’m still not sure we have his yeast issues under control. I have read that sometimes transdermal NAC provides less reaction.

  14. Help!
    I ordered the liposomal glutathione that you link to from seeking health. I already drink pure MSM crystals dissolved in a small amount of water, FLCO, high vit butter oil and while none of them are “good”, in fact they are all “ick” but tolerable. As soon as I opened the plastic bag the bottle came in I got a huge whiff of rotten eggs. I made sure the inner safety seal was on and it was, I opened the bottle and it’s like a horrible combo of rotten egg and old fashioned perm solution (like for hair). I tried a single drop on my finger as you are supposed to be able to mix with water or juice and I almost threw up. Is it rotten? I can’t imagine even rubbing this on my skin. I emailed the company but haven’t heard anything back. Is it supposed to be so ? I don’t know ? Powerfully strong smelling/tasting?

  15. I’ve been taking NAC for fertility reasons (increased pregnancy rate) and it’s been shown to reduce miscarriage in studies. I’ve also read about autism treatments using it with success. Promising stuff, just wish the medical community cared more about learning and passing this info on. I feel like lots of people are missing out on help.

    I just got my genomic data and found that I have a number of methylation mutations related to folate and B12 (compound heterozygous MTHFR, plus a few MTR/MTRR mutations), so this all is starting to come together for me. Fortunately, I’ve been taking methylfolate for awhile, but I just ordered some methylated form of B12 and have changed my multi-vitamin to one that does not contain folic acid.

    Still reading and learning, but your website has been invaluable.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      You little art life sounds identical to my condition.
      Have you had any luck concieving? We are TTC & both my husband & I take NAC amount many other things.

  16. I can’t find a date when this article was written, was it recently? My naturopath recently put me on a supplement called Glutathione Recycler, taken orally. But, I’ve read elsewhere too that Glutathione is not available or effective when taken orally. Wondering if the product I have is new, or if it’s going to be ineffective, and I should try it trans dermally?

    • Liposomal forms of glutathione are absorbable orally, but you could definitely try topically as well.

  17. How often would you use topically on your Thyroid? Did it help with Thyroid issues?

    DO you have a Instagram or Facebook page?

    Thanks!
    Karina

  18. Hi, I love your site & the wonderful info you provide. Would just like to add that Glutathione needs to be produced in your cells, not taking orally. I’m using a completely natural product that has been proven to increase glutathione levels by 300%, reduce oxidative stress by 40% & it activates nrf2 to protect cells. It has peer reviewed studies in medical journals & is published on pubmed.gov It really is the supplement to find out about. I respect your policies so won’t list any sites but hope you contact me so that I can direct you to the info. It is cutting edge for a supplement & I am really impressed by how it’s helped me with my health issues.

    • Can you please share the info with me?

    • I would love to know the name of which form you have reseaarched so well! My mother suffers severly from many issues it sounds like this may help though ibdont know as she has ever been tested for the insufficient glutithione despite the decades of drs visits tests, diagnosis ect.

    • Please share the name of the natural product that you are using. Thank you very much

    • Dear Colette,

      I would love to have the information on the natural product you are using to to increase glutathione levels.
      Please share. Thank in advance for your kinds response.

      Lena

    • Id love to learn more about your sources about glutathione having to be taken orally. I’m just starting to research this supplement and trying to cover all my bases. Thanks!

    • Colett, thanks for sharing. I would live to get more info on how to increase glutathione levels, thanks!

    • Could you please name this product? You mentioned how wonderful it is and I am interested in it as wel

  19. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 years now and my husband and I decided it’s time to seek out a fertility doctor. After finding that my tubes are clear we had a semen analysis done. The results came back today and all is good except for 14% low motility rate. I’ve been trying to find information on how to increase motility naturally and found an article mentioning Glutathione. I love your blog and wanted to see what you’ve written about Glutathione. Do you have any suggestions, resources, etc. on how to improve sperm motility or just overall sperm health? I have found several of your blog posts regarding improving female fertility but not male. Thank you – Jenna

    • As you have noticed, I have mostly researched female fertility, as the majority of the clients I worked with were female. I would suggest finding a doctor who specializes in male fertility… They should be able to give you advice.

    • Read up on Maca root as a supplement, it has some pretty amazing properties, particularly for male fertility.

  20. Hi, I was wondering which brand you use of transdermal glutathione?
    Thanks,
    Melissa

  21. Is glutathione good for breastfeeding moms?

  22. What about the connection between Glutathione and sulfur (all of the foods mentioned are high in sulfur)? What if you contain a CBS gene mutation and can’t process sulfur well?

    • Planning to write about this soon and also to interview a specialists about it, but there are some good options now for those who can’t tolerate sulfur.

      • Seconding Samantha. Might there be any information for those who are NO++ as well?

  23. I had 4 rounds of IV and now take the liposomal Gluta. I have 2 copies of the MTHFR c677t so the IV was too much for me actually. the liposomal taken at a very very very low dose has helped with inflammation and brain fog from my neurological pain disease.

  24. I’ve just recently found out I have an issue with my (per blood test), have felt like I’ve had an issue for a long time, have most of the symptoms and have for a long time, What supplements should I use, how much of the supplements should I use, where can I purchase them. Any concerns I should note. Doctor doesn’t want to treat at this time but I’m tired of feeling this way.

  25. Dear Wellnessmama.
    I used to work alot with ceramics, I believe that is partly what contributed to my hashimotos. I had a bad outburst of eczema from ceramics centered around my thyroid some years before I was diagnosed.
    I tried applying glutathione around my thyroid now and the eczema seems to be returning, mildly though. It has been gone for ten years. Do you think this returning is a good or bad thing? I think it might be a detox symptom?
    Thank you for all your work.
    Tina

    • It could be detox, but is it in a specific area or just where you applies the glutathione. It may also be that you are reacting to an ingredient in the glutathione.

  26. Raw milk, while it will not raise your levels of glutathione if one is deficient (my understanding is that no food can actually do that), contains cysteine so it is probably one good food source (among others) that would help maintain already adequate glutathione levels. Food for thought…

  27. Glad to find you wrote about this! I recently read about it to aid in an autoimmune disease I may have. Thank you for all your research. xo