What is Glutathione?

Posted on
May 31, 2021

Glutathione is an antioxidant produced by cells in the body. It’s comprised largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. Glutathione levels in the body may be reduced by a number of factors, including poor nutrition, environmental toxins, and stress. Levels also decline with age. In addition to being produced naturally by the body, glutathione can be given intravenously, topically, or as an inhalant. It’s also available as an oral supplement in capsule and liquid form. However, oral digestion may not be as beneficial as IV administration.

1. Glutathione Reduces Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between production of free radicals and the body’s ability to fight them off. High levels of oxidative stress may be a precursor to multiple diseases including but not limited to: diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Glutathione helps stave off the impact of oxidative stress, which reduces disease. Glutathione deficiency leads to increased levels of oxidative stress, which might lead to cancer and other diseases.

2. Glutathione May Improve Psoriasis and Other Autoimmune Disorders

The chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases can increase oxidative stress. These diseases include but are not limited to: psoriasis, Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus. As previously noted, glutathione reduces oxidative stress by either stimulating or reducing the body’s immunological response. Autoimmune diseases attack the mitochondria in specific cells. Glutathione works to protect cell mitochondria by eliminating free radicals.

3. Glutathione Reduces cell damage in Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Cell death in the liver may be exacerbated by a deficiency in antioxidants, including glutathione. This can lead to fatty liver disease in both those who misuse alcohol and those who don’t. Glutathione has been shown to improve protein, enzyme, and bilirubin levels in the blood of individuals with alcoholic and nonalcoholic chronic fatty liver disease.

4. Glutathione Improves Insulin Resistance

As people age, they produce less glutathione. Researchers have explored the role of glutathione in weight management and insulin resistance. Studies indicate that low glutathione levels were associated with less fat burning and higher rates of fat storing in the body.

5. Glutathione Increases Mobility in People with Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease most commonly happens in the legs. Studies show that glutathione improves circulation, increasing the ability of people with peripheral artery disease to walk pain-free for longer distances.

6. Glutathione Reduces Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease currently has no cure. IV glutathione has been shown to have a positive effect on symptoms Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors and rigidity, which improves quality of life in people with this disease.

7. May Reduce Oxidative Damage in Autism

People with autism have higher levels of oxidative damage and lower levels of glutathione in their brain. This increased susceptibility to neurological damage in people.

8. May Reduce the Impact of Uncontrolled Diabetes

Long-term high blood sugar is associated with reduced amounts of glutathione. This can lead to oxidative stress and tissue damage. Glutathione has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and damage in people with uncontrolled diabetes, despite high sugar levels.

9. May Reduce Respiratory Symptoms

N-acetylcysteine is a medication used to treat conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. As an inhalant, it helps to thin mucus and make it less paste-like. It also reduces inflammation N-acetylcysteine is a byproduct of glutathione.


Glutathione contains sulfur molecules, which may be why foods high in sulfur help to boost its natural production in the body. These foods include:

  • cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, and bok choy
  • allium vegetables, such as garlic and onions
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • lean protein, such as fish, and chicken

Other foods and herbs that help to naturally boost glutathione levels include:

  • milk thistle
  • flaxseed
  • guso seaweed
  • whey

Glutathione is also negatively affected by insomnia. Getting enough rest on a regular basis can help increase levels.

Side Effects and Risks

A diet rich in glutathione-boosting foods does not pose any risks. However, taking supplements may not be advisable for everyone. Talk to your doctor about glutathione to determine if it’s right for you. Possible side effects may include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • bloating
  • trouble breathing due to bronchial constriction
  • allergic reactions, such as rash