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Glutathione

Reduced L-glutathione, most commonly called glutathione or GSH, is the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidant in all human cells.

It has been used to treat symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, ALS, irritable bowel, and chronic fatigue.

It is a tripeptide composed of the amino acids glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. Glutathione is found in all cells in the body, including the bile, the epithelial lining fluid of the lungs, and—at much smaller concentrations—in the blood.

GSH is the smallest intracellular non-protein thiol (molecule containing an S_H or sulfhydryl group) molecule in the cells. This characteristic emphasizes its potent antioxidant action and enzyme cofactor properties, and supports a multifaceted thiol exchange system—which regulates cell activity.

The highest concentration of glutathione is found in the liver, making it critically important in the detoxification and elimination of free radicals. Accumulation of these dangerous compounds can result in oxidative stress, which occurs when the generation of free radicals in the body exceeds the body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate them. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds created in the body during normal metabolic functions; they can also enter the body through the environment.

Metabolically, glutathione has many functions. For example, glutathione plays a substantial role in the functioning of the body’s immune system. Its antioxidant property makes it vital to white blood cells (lymphocytes)—as it allows them to reach their full potential during the oxygen-requiring activity of the body’s immune response.

Similar to the liver, white blood cells in their immune response also aid in detoxification of the body—and as glutathione levels decrease, so does the body’s ability to eliminate dangerous toxins. This leads to the death of white blood cells—thereby weakening the body’s immune system.

Other antioxidants in the body depend on glutathione as well. Glutathione recycles vitamins C and E after they have been oxidized—therefore playing a decisive role in their normal function.

Oxidative stressors that can deplete glutathione include:

  • Ultraviolet and Other Radiation
  • Household Chemicals
  • Acetaminophen Poisoning
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Exhaust From Motor Vehicles
  • Heavy Metals
  • Other Environmental Toxins
  • Viral Infections
  • Surgery
  • Inflammation
  • Burns
  • Septic Shock
  • Dietary Deficiencies of GSH Precursors
  • Enzyme Cofactors

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Article Last Updated: 08/26/2015