The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione

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The Benefits of Glutathione - The master antioxidant
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione

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. Learn more about it during this podcast interview on using it to combat sugar intake.

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 a topical glutathione spray 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.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine and clinical researcher and has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts, posters, and papers. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


68 responses to “The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione”

  1. Melissa Avatar

    Hi, I was wondering which brand you use of transdermal glutathione?

  2. Jenna Avatar

    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

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      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.

    2. Sherry Avatar

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

  3. Colette Houle Avatar
    Colette Houle

    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 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.

    1. brooke c Avatar
      brooke c

      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.

    2. yuly Avatar

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

    3. Lena Gelfond Avatar
      Lena Gelfond

      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.


    4. Nicole Avatar

      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!

    5. lynn Avatar

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

    6. Pamela Avatar

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

  4. Karina Avatar

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

    DO you have a Instagram or Facebook page?


  5. Shonna Avatar

    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?

  6. Jennifer Ochoa Avatar
    Jennifer Ochoa

    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.

    1. Selina Avatar

      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.

  7. Sherry Avatar

    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?

  8. Andrea Connors Avatar
    Andrea Connors

    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.

    1. Stephanie Avatar

      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.

  9. Aimee Avatar

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

  10. Michael Avatar

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

  11. Aimee Avatar

    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!

    1. Gwyn Avatar

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

  12. Ashley Avatar

    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.

  13. Jane Avatar

    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!

    1. Genevieve Avatar

      Where did you get your glutathione cream and what brand do you buy?

    2. Genevieve Avatar

      When I followed the link to the topical you use it took me to a spray sublingual. Are you using the sublingual spray topically? I want to find a good cream but my search has not found me anything yet. I took the IV form and it didn’t help, so I would love to find something that helps. Thank you!

  14. Kanika Avatar

    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.

    1. Caroline Avatar

      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.

      1. Michelle Avatar

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

      2. Maggie Avatar

        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…

  15. Sofie Avatar

    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! 🙂

  16. Jessica Avatar

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

      1. Kirsten Avatar

        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.

          1. Jodi Avatar

            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

      2. Suzi Williams Avatar
        Suzi Williams

        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!)

  17. Mary Avatar

    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?

    1. Ginger Avatar

      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….

    2. Ian Whybrow Avatar
      Ian Whybrow

      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.

  18. Angela Avatar

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

    1. Nicole Avatar

      Yeasts bind to metals to protect our bodies from the oxidation they cause, so when you add glutathione that removes heavy metals, you are left with unbound yeast that can cause symptoms. That is the theory anyway. I am currently doing Andy Cutler’s chelation protocol and a lot of people in the Facebook group report increased yeast symptoms once the heavy metals start getting moved out of their bodies.

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