Glutathione is the most abundant anti-oxidant found within the human body. Glutathione is synthesized within the body from amino acids from protein in the diet. Taking glutathione orally is widely debated. Many nutrition companies and websites claim that their effectiveness in a powder form. They are not going to cause you any harm, but they probably will not increase your glutathione levels either.

The reality is that glutathione is not absorbed very well when taken in the oral form. It is largely broken down by enzymes within the intestine. Studies have found that it is not possible to increase the amount of glutathione in your blood by taking it orally. Instead, glutathione must be administered intravenously.

With that being said, it is has been shown that consuming the precursors (amino acids) of glutathione orally will cause the body to increase its production of glutathione. For example, consuming a quality whey protein is one way to increase the amount of glutathione within your body.

However, there is a far better way. Glutathione in the epithelial lining fluid (ELF) of the lower respiratory tract is thought to be the first line of defense against oxidative stress. Inhalation by using a nebulizer is the only known method that increases Glutathione levels in the ELF and to be shown to be just as effective as IV. A review of the literature was conducted to examine the clinical effectiveness of inhaled GSH as a treatment for various pulmonary diseases and respiratory-related conditions. The potential applications of inhaled GSH are numerous when one considers just how many pulmonary diseases and respiratory-related conditions are affected by deficient antioxidant status or an over production of oxidants, poor oxygenation and/or impaired host defenses. We must also consider the systemic effects of using glutathione through a nebulizer. Glutathione acts as an immune modulator, antioxidant, and liver detoxification substrate. It is the main protecting antioxidant for cellular mitochondria. Glutathione is absolutely critical for autoimmunity. It’s an important antioxidant that helps support regulatory T-cells, protects our barrier systems, and engulfs free radicals before they are activated by the NF-kB receptor. Chronically activated NF-kB has been linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

A study investigated the levels of glutathione compared with the severity of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and found plasma levels were significantly lower in the moderate and severe SLE groups than in the control group.

I have personally be using glutathione through a nebulizer for my overall health as well as treating patients with chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In addition, I use a glutathione cream that transports a stabilized form of glutathione and superoxide dismutase into the bloodstream via transdermal liposomal delivery methods. The plasma markers of GSH and SOD are not raised when these are supplied orally; therefore, effective transport into the bloodstream via liposomal delivery is preferential. The transdermal method of delivery, known as liposomal delivery, is one in which lipid spheres called liposomes surround GSH and SOD, transporting it through the skin until it reaches the blood supply.

The Treatment of Pulmonary Diseases and Respiratory-Related Conditions with Inhaled (Nebulized or Aerosolized) Glutathione Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 March; 5(1): 27–35. Published online 2007 May 17.

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