What is Glutathione?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I’ve been reading Dr. Susan Blum’s book The Immune System Recovery Plan. I’ve been reading it for quite a while now because it is filled with such great information. I have to stop ever so often to really ingest it all and share what I’ve learned with you 🙂
I am reading the section in her book about improving liver function — an area that I’ve really focused on in my journey to healing endometriosis. Within this section, she writes about a very important component in your body called glutathione.
According to Dr. Blum, glutathione is the most important antioxidant. It’s in every cell in your body, but in highest concentrations in your liver. It helps clean out toxins in your body from heavy metals, pesticides, solvents and plastic residues like BPA.
Glutathione also cleans up the end product’s from your body’s metabolism — called oxygen free radicals. Free radicals cause damage to cells. Glutathione disarms these oxygen molecules so they don’t do damage to your body.
There was a study done that examined relationships between reactive oxygen free radicals that cause cellular damage and the growth of endometriosis cells. This study found that these cells have increased oxidative stress and have alterations in their detoxification pathways.
This lends the suggestion that there could be a link between oxidative stress in your body and endometriosis.
Ways to Replenish Glutathione
With so much work to do, glutathione is always getting used up and constantly has to be made in your body. Your body will have low glutathione levels if the body lacks the raw materials required for making it.
Glutathione is composed of three amino acids – cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine cysteine. To increase glutathione, it helps to increase our intake of these amino acids.
Food sources of cysteine include:
- red peppers
- brussels sprouts
Another way to increase glutathione is by supplementing with N-acetyl cystine (NAC). Research has shown that treatment with NAC helped reverse oxidative stress leading to endometriosis in mouse experiments and in vitro experiments.
I’ve heard many women with endometriosis have had success by supplementing with NAC, but I’ve also heard that many had poor reactions with it. This is because when glutathione levels are increased then your body starts to release all the accumulated toxins. This can cause a pretty severe detoxification effect. If you decide to go this route then take it slow and start a low dose.
Another important mineral to keep glutathione levels high is alpha lipoic acid — the second most potent antioxidant. When glutathione does its job cleaning up free radicals it gets oxidized and is no longer able to clean up anything else. Alpha lipoic acid cleans up the glutathione and makes it ready to go back to work.
Food sources of alpha lipoic acid include dark leafy green vegetables.
Gene Mutation and Low Glutathione
Glutathione is made by an important enzyme called glutathione-s-transferase (GST). Both GST and another important enzyme called metylenenetrtahydrofolate (MTHFR) regulate the detoxification pathways.
Many of us have genetic issues that lead to a low efficiency of these enzymes in the body. In fact, most chronic illnesses are linked to a low efficiency of these genes. This is because with lower GST and MTHFR levels glutathione levels get depleted very easily, which makes it harder for the body to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body.
As we age, low GST and MTHFR problems cause further havoc as the body accumulates more and more toxins and oxidative stress and the body is unable to replenish glutathione.
Most importantly for the growth and development of endometriosis, with these mutated genes then the body is not able to process out xenoestrogens picked up from the environment. These environmental estrogens feed endometriosis!
Additionally, studies have shown that there may also be a link between dioxins and the presence of endometriosis. Glutathione assists with detoxifying these environmental pollutants, so if glutathione is low then dioxins are not removed from the body.
It is possible to test for the genetic mutations (MTHFR and GST) with a simple blood test. (I have breakdowns with both.)
On the Positive Side?
I hope that you’ve found this information helpful (and as intriguing as I have). Glutathione is a big piece in the healing puzzle.
Have you tested your detoxification pathways in terms of MTHFR and GST? Have you tried NAC? Or anything else to help increase glutathione?
I’d love to hear from you….