Do you seem to catch every cold or flu going around? Do you have an ongoing infection, like the yeast infection candida, that you can’t get rid of? Or do you have the opposite problem—an overactive immune system leading to allergies or to an autoimmune disease? Do you have, or have you had cancer? These are all indications that your immune system isn’t protecting you as it should, and it’s likely that a primary reason for that is that you don’t have enough glutathione.
Glutathione is a critical protein that your body produces. It can also be obtained from food and supplements. Glutathione has been called “the mother antioxidant” because our antioxidant system can’t function without it. Neither can our detoxification system. And neither can our immune system.
Glutathione has the following six essential roles in immune function:
- Glutathione patrols the bloodstream directly killing many pathogens before they can begin to start trouble.
- Immune cells need glutathione for their growth, differentiation and proliferation.
- Many immune cells kill pathogens by producing powerful chemicals that are potentially harmful to both surrounding tissues and the immune cells themselves. Glutathione renders these chemicals harmless once they have done their job .
- As the body’s master detoxifier, glutathione prevents toxins from lingering in your bloodstream or getting stored in your fat cells, both of which place an added tax on your immune system and weaken its effectiveness.
- Zinc plays an important role in immunity, and glutathione helps regulate the extraction of zinc from cellular storage sites so that it can play this role.
- Glutathione also regulates the immune system as a whole, boosting its function when underactive and bringing it back into balance when it is overactive, in ways that scientists are still exploring .
Because our toxic world places a huge demand on our glutathione stores, many people today, especially those over the age of fifty and those with a chronic illness, are deficient in glutathione. Some people lack a gene that promotes glutathione production. If you feel you may need a glutathione boost, you can get your glutathione levels assessed by a functional medicine doctor.
And if you decide to supplement, we recommend our Beyond Health Glutathione Formula , a thoughtfully designed combination of glutathione, glutathione precursors and nutrients that support glutathione in its work.
- Allen M. Mechanisms of control of mycobacterium tuberculosis by NK cells: role of glutathione. Frontiers in Immunology . Published online October 2015.
- Ghezzi P. Role of glutathione in immunity and inflammation in the lung. International Journal of General Medicine.2011;4:105-113.