Glutathione is a tri-peptide consisting of three amino acids, which are cystine, glutamic acid and glycine. It is considered the body’s most important endogenous antioxidant (produced by the body) for both neutralizing free radicals, and recycling the antioxidant vitamins C and E. In fact, glutathione is sometimes referred to as the mother of all antioxidants, the master detoxifier and the maestro of the immune system.
Stress, radiation and toxins deplete our levels of glutathione. And some health professionals believe that if you have a chronic illness—any chronic illness—you have a deficiency of glutathione.
Recent studies have shown that individuals with psychiatric disorders are also deficient in glutathione.
There is a growing body of data suggesting that oxidative stress may be a factor underlying the physiology of bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. Since glutathione is the major free radical scavenger in the brain scientists have been trying to determine if these mental illnesses are associated with abnormal glutathione levels, and its functionally related enzymes.
In a study published in the July, 2010 issue of the International Journal of Neuropsyhopharmacology researchers did postmortem exams of the prefrontal cortex from patients with psychiatric disorders. They found that the levels of total glutathione were significantly decreased in all psychiatric conditions compared to the control group, and that individuals with these types of mental disorders may be more susceptible to oxidative stress and free radical damage. 1
An earlier study found similar results in postmortem brains from schizophrenic patients and control groups without any psychiatric disorders. 2
A 2008 meta-analysis also found that oxidative stress markers are increased in bipolar disorder and that oxidative stress may play a role in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. 3
Glutathione is vital to everyone’s health
Glutathione is the major antioxidant produced by almost every cell in your body, protecting it from free radicals. Glutathione plays many roles, including these:
- Recycles vitamin C and vitamin E, keeping them in their active state
- Enables the body to get rid of toxins and pollutants
- Helps maintain a normal balance between oxidation and anti-oxidation, which regulates many of the cell’s vital functions, such as the synthesis and repair of DNA, the synthesis of proteins and the activation and regulation of enzymes
- Plays a fundamental role in every system in the body, especially the immune system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and the lungs.
- Carries out an immune response by helping lymphocytes and killer T-cells multiply and kill cancer cells and virally infected cells
- Supports healthy mitochondrial function
For more information about glutathione, please see the article:
- Gawryluk JW, Wang JF, Andreazza AC, Shao L, Young LT. Decreased levels of glutathione, the major brain antioxidant, in post-mortem prefrontal cortex from patients with psychiatric disorders.Int J Neuropsychopharmacol.2010 Jul 16:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]
- Yao JK, Leonsard S, Reddy R. Altered glutathione redox state in schizophrenia.Dis Markers.2006;22(1-2):83-93.
- Andreazza AC Kauer-Santanna M, Frey BN, Bond DJ, Kapczinski F, Young LT, Yatham LN. Oxidative stress markers in bipolar disorder: a meta-analysis.J Affect Disord.2008 Dec;111(2-3):135-44. Epub 2008 Jun 9.