What is Glutathione?6 Jul 2015
Dr. Tim Guilford is a practitioner of functional medicine and homeopathy.
A long standing interest in nutrition, detoxification, and oxidative stress led Dr. Guilford to recognition of the important role of Glutathione in human physiology.
Dr. Guilford recently lectured to our guests here at Hippocrates Wellness, and had this to say about GLUTATHIONE; the Body’s Master Antioxidant:
Glutathione (GSH) is a deceptively simple string of 3 amino acids, glutamine, cysteine and glycine. GSH also has a sulfur molecule which binds with toxins and gives it a distinct aroma. Toxic exposure and oxidative stress can deplete glutathione levels resulting in an array of both chronic and acute conditions.
I first became aware of glutathione (GSH) while researching the toxicity of mercury. Articles show mercury is removed from cells by binding to GSH. It turns out that GSH plays an important role in detoxifying mercury as well as many other toxins.
Certain enzymes facilitate the binding of GSH to toxins. They work like “match-makers” because they facilitate the introduction of glutathione to materials that could be toxic to cell function. These enzymes are needed to make glutathione in an efficient manner, and they are present in almost every cell in the body. When these enzymes are not formed properly, glutathione production becomes inadequate.
Glutathione is also a very powerful antioxidant. The mitochondria in our cells produce energy, and mitochondria don’t function well without glutathione. GSH prevents the formation of free radicals that can occur during energy production. Fundamental to its role as an antioxidant, GSH converts biochemical free radicals to harmless water. GSH is the primary defense against oxidative stress that can lead to mitochondrial impairment and cellular damage. Without optimal cellular GSH levels, cells are not able to function efficiently.
It has been shown that the amounts of glutathione an individual makes may be a product of heredity. Genetic inefficiency can occur in both the production of glutathione and in the enzymes that facilitate glutathione’s function. Thus heredity and genetic variation may explain why some of us become deficient in glutathione while others don’t.
In addition, toxins like mercury, persistent organic pollutants and mold mycotoxins can also deplete glutathione. The differences in production of glutathione make it understandable why one person in a household may be affected by toxins while others are not. In these situations, my clinical experience has shown that increasing the number of glutathione molecules available for cells, especially immune cells, to function may be helpful.