Many Sources Claim That Glutathione Has Powerful Health Benefits,

So What Does the Research Say?

Billing itself as the Master Antioxidant, glutathione has created quite a stir. What’s all this fuss about?

One Molecule—Many Health Benefits

The good news is your body’s cells create this powerful antioxidant—that’s why they call it an endogenous intracellular antioxidant. The bad news is your glutathione levels decrease with age, exposure to modern-day toxins, stress, and disease. Glutathione supplements play a pivotal role in raising glutathione levels, providing several health benefits including immune, heart, brain, and skin health. 

Glutathione—Master Antioxidant

Whether your glutathione levels are lowered due to aging or toxins in your environment (those include chemicals in food, water, air, and cosmetics, ultraviolet rays, medications, alcohol, and smoking), poor nutrition, viruses, or chronic disease—raising them can offer significant benefits.

While combating cell-damaging oxidative stress, glutathione’s unique chemical building blocks not only have the power to balance dangerous free radicals, but they can also regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E that become depleted in the free radical fight as well as eliminate toxic drugs and heavy metals.

Glutathione’s Detox Benefits

Your liver’s most abundant sulfur antioxidant, glutathione, is critical in the liver’s detoxification process. Without it, your liver couldn’t eliminate harmful substances. Glutathione’s sticky sulfur chemical group bonds to toxins like mercury and other heavy metals and safely escorts them out of the body. Studies show the effectiveness of glutathione treatment for acute poisoning and chronic liver diseases, as well as the benefits of oral glutathione for fatty liver disease.

Glutathione’s Heart Health Benefits

Glutathione joins the fight against heart disease—the world’s leading cause of death. Low levels of glutathione and high levels of oxidative stress increase your risk of a heart attack. Since glutathione can neutralize free radicals, lowering oxidative stress–research suggests that raising your glutathione levels may help prevent heart attack and stroke.

Studies also show that patients who survived heart attacks had much higher glutathione levels than those who did not. Research has linked low glutathione levels to people with untreated hypertension and, once treated with medication, showed an increase in glutathione levels and a decrease in oxidative stress.

Glutathione’s Brain Health Benefits

According to the Brain Research Journal, the “most reliable and robust risk factor for some neurodegenerative diseases is aging.” Since the aging process is associated with increased oxidative stress resulting in low glutathione levels, scientists continue to research the importance of increasing glutathione levels for brain health.

Data indicates a definitive correlation between low glutathione levels and decreased brain health, as it is widely regarded as the most critical brain antioxidant. Because oxidative stress contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are investigating treatments with antioxidants to prevent or slow disease progression. Alzheimer’s studies with mice suggest reduced plaque buildup and memory improvement with increased glutathione.

Researchers are also studying increasing glutathione levels in Parkinson’s patients as an early measure to prevent the disease because of its antioxidant prowess to stave off the damaging oxidative stress that harms dopamine neurons. Studies believe that glutathione can not only mitigate but can also decrease the rate of damage to brain tissue.

Lyme disease, another neurologic disease, has been shown to weaken with increased levels of glutathione.

Since researchers are finding a link between glaucoma and age-related cataracts to a depletion in glutathione levels, and ensuing oxidative stress–they are pursuing antioxidants as viable therapies. Studies have also found that, if taken at the early stages of advanced macular degeneration, glutathione protects the retina from neovascularization (developing extra blood vessels) which advances the disease.

Glutathione’s Insulin Health Benefits

Glutathione can help decrease the risk of diabetes. Studies show that higher levels of glutathione can be attributed to better insulin levels as it decreases the fat stored in the belly, which is a leading contributor to diabetes. As blood sugar levels increase, glutathione levels decrease, and research suggests that boosting glutathione levels may alleviate complications of Type 2 Diabetes like heart and nerve problems. Studies have also shown that increased levels of glutathione through supplementation can reduce oxidative stress and improve insulin resistance.

Glutathione’s Autoimmune Benefits

Because some autoimmune diseases correlate with low glutathione levels and high oxidative stress, glutathione has an important effect on the immune system, as it can stimulate or inhibit the immune system response. Elevating glutathione levels to combat oxidative stress may help in autoimmune diseases. Data indicates that glutathione’s ability to modulate immune system cells’ reactions has antimycobacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic immune-enhancing implications. Due to glutathione deficiency in HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis patients, researchers are studying the therapeutic strategy of augmenting glutathione levels as a supplemental treatment and to prevent tissue damage.

Scientists are conducting promising research on glutathione’s effect on additional immune diseases like multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and alopecia areata.

Glutathione’s Skin Health Benefits

While most of us are applying a wide assortment of products onto our skin, many people are now discovering the benefits of protecting their skin and rejuvenating it from within. From anti-aging to skin lightening, studies show that increasing glutathione levels shows promising results in skin health. Recent data indicates that stimulating the production of glutathione reduces the appearance of wrinkles, improves elasticity, and even stimulates cell division, which could enhance wound healing.

Several studies also suggest that as glutathione reduces skin cells’ production of melanin, it could effectively reduce the appearance of dark patches associated with aging. While glutathione is a skin-lightening agent, data also shows that continued oral supplementation is needed to maintain its effects.

Researchers are studying the positive effects of increasing glutathione levels in patients with psoriasis, a common autoimmune disease affecting the skin, who have heightened levels of oxidative stress.

Increased glutathione levels are even showing promising results in treating acne, as studies reveal patients with this condition have lower levels of glutathione. Glutathione’s benefits include relieving acne’s high oxidative stress levels while increasing skin regeneration.

Because oral glutathione used in studies has shown to benefit skin elasticity, regulate melanogenesis (skin lightening), and reduce wrinkles, researchers are encouraged by their findings and feel further studies are warranted.

Glutathione’s Weight Loss and Exercise Benefits

Glutathione’s detoxification powers work to eliminate environmental toxins, so if your glutathione levels are low, these toxins metabolize in the fat tissues, which results in weight gain. Studies show that increasing glutathione levels will aid in weight loss by decreasing your body’s oxidative stress.

While we know exercise’s multitude of health benefits, intense training can increase free radicals. Some studies show that glutathione supplementation can help decrease muscle fatigue caused by exercise. Researchers have also found increasing athletes’ glutathione levels can help decrease inflammation and exercise-related sports injuries.

Glutathione’s Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Benefits

Described by the medical community as a nearly pandemic condition with the potential to cause loss of limb or even loss of life, peripheral vascular disease, a circulatory system disease, can see reduced symptoms with glutathione supplements. Data also indicates positive results in increased blood circulation and pain-free walking when glutathione levels were increased.

Gratitude for Glutathione’s Benefits

Scientists have unlocked many of this multiple-functioning molecule’s superpowers and, lucky for us, further glutathione research continues. Because when we raise our glutathione levels, we’re enjoying the protection of a detoxified body, increasing the strength of our heart and brain functions, and basking in the glow of our radiant skin and enhanced energy.