This is part 2 of my Methylation series (Part 1 can be read here). Almost all people in the Fluoroquinolone (FQ) community have heard of glutathione, considered by some to be the body’s master anti-oxidant. Glutathione is involved amino acid transport, protein synthesis, the cell cycle, and plays integral role in methylation.
Many in the FQ community have tried supplementing glutathione, on their own or through an integrative health practitioner, in an attempt to treat FQ toxicity. While some have reported a short term ‘feel good’ reaction, others have reported neutral to negative results with some stating in precipitated a symptom setback.
This article is not designed to be a technical treatise on how glutathione works in the methylation cycle. There is plenty of information available on the internet about glutathione and how it works from a technical standpoint. Instead it is designed to be the “poor man’s quick guide to glutathione supplementation”. One more point, I am not advocating treating yourself with glutathione, as a matter of fact I am remaining neutral on the subject for that is a decision that needs to be made between you and your doctor. No treatment should be undertaken without the consultation of a medical professional and if you read further it is assumed that you have read and agreed to my disclaimer.
FQ’s can be extremely destructive on a cellular level and when one has an idiopathic response to the FQ’s it put stressors on numerous bodily systems. As I mentioned in the previous article in this series, it is theorized the problem starts when we are subjected to a variety of long-term FQ induced stressors. These stressors can be physical, chemical, biological and even psychological. These stressors lower glutathione levels to the point that a block occurs in the enzyme methionine synthase in the body’s methylation cycle, in turn creating more oxidative stress, which in turn further decreases glutathione and so on in a vicious cycle.
The FQ reaction cycle is varied. Some people have a reaction and slowly get better never to return to the nightmare. Some people have an acute reaction, get better, then start developing chronic problems. Others have mild reactions that slowly builds into a chronic issues, while yet others have no visible, or very mild, outward signs only to develop problems later down the road. These chronic problems lie at the heart of what we are talking about and they affect more FQ sufferers than what we would like to admit.
As we read in my earlier post, we are happily living our lives when the FQ reaction sets off a dizzying array of stressors. These stressors reduce glutathione which in turn decease methylation and activate or affect genetic variations (SNPs) which then in-turn can contribute to the chronic issues.
“Well if it is that simple, why don’t I just start taking more glutathione?” Well it is, and it isn’t. Once the methylation cycle decreases to a certain point, it is chronically re-enforcing itself in a negative way. Toxins are accumulating and other systems are changing. It will require certain building blocks that take in account what is actually happening in the person’s biochemistry. For instance, if one has been depleted in glutathione for some time they would need to proceed slow in their augmentation. In the absence of glutathione, infections and toxins would more than likely be built up. If glutathione is brought up rapidly it can cause the stored toxins to become mobile and set off unpleasant symptoms. In my opinion this one of the reasons certain sufferers who have supplemented glutathione have had negative reactions.
Glutathione and glutathione precursor NAC can also induce active b12 deficiencies, apparently by converting active methylcobalamin (meb12) to inactive glutathionylb12 and rapidly excreting it. This then can cause methylfolate to be dumped from your cells and can lead to high serum folate but a low cellular folate causing a folate deficiency with increasingly negative symptoms over time. Many people mistake this for a detoxification reaction. If one is using an active b12 protocol to correct methylation issues caution should be used in using glutathione, NAC, glutamine, or undenatured whey. Something to discuss with your healthcare provider.
In addition, those who have SNP’s in the CBS and SUOX genes can have an issue with sulphur based compounds such as glutathione, MSM, NAC, etc… So, supplementing with glutathione, even though it does good things for the body, can actually cause you to feel worse, especially if your sulphate load is high. Remember the SNPs give us only the tendencies as to why our bodies may respond a certain way but they do not always give the actualities. We must use a variety of information to develop proper treatment protocol.
So, let’s assume that you want to supplement to build glutathione and you need more information to discuss with your health practitioner, what are your options? Well, there are actually several ways to augment glutathione or give your body the building blocks to create more glutathione in one’s body. I will briefly discuss the options here:
1. Glutathione Oral supplements. Probably considered the most common way of attempting to raise glutathione is by taking supplements by mouth. The first way (no pun intended) is to supplement with whey. Un-denatured whey products such as those found in goat milk based protein supplements provide the amino acid precursors for the formation of glutathione. Such products as Garden of Life Goatein provide such precursors.
One can also purchase glutathione directly in the form of reduced glutathione supplements and there are many to choose from http://www.iherb.com/search?kw=reduced+glutathione&x=0&y=0#none&rcode=zef337. The problem with oral supplementation of reduced glutathione is that it is broken down into amino acids in the gut and probably does not help the entire body per se but may help the lining of the digestive tract.
There is an oral form of glutathione called liposomal or Lipoceutical Glutathione that is not broken down in the gut and is able to enter the cells more easily which means more can get into the body. These products can be expensive. http://iherb.com/p/25232?rcode=zef337
2. Glutathione Sublingual. Also classified as a oral supplement but in a different category, sublingual tablets are available. They are also available in a gel form, called troches, from a compounding pharmacy such as Lionville Natural Pharmacy in Lionville, PA phone (877) 363-7474. It is important that sublingual forms remain in contact with the gum for as long as possible to insure maximum absorption. This can be irritating for some. Also, it is unclear exactly how much is actually absorbed and used by the body but it is probably more than using pill form of reduced glutathione.
3. Glutathione Intravenous Injections. Commonly referred to as I.V. pushes, this form of supplementation is often done by N.D.’s and alternative practitioners, and occasionally some M.D’s. These I.V. pushes which range from 1,500 mg in 12cc of sterile water to 2,500 mg in 15cc of sterile water one to two times a week for upwards of three to six months. This form of supplementation seems to becoming more popular. Obviously this approach is relatively expensive and requires and visit to a clinic or office. A source for I.V. glutathione is Wellness Health and Pharmaceuticals in Birmingham, AL (800) 227-2627. Another source is for IV glutathione fast pushes is www.Infuserveamerica.com. The positive side of I.V.’s are that several cell types area able to extract the glutathione from the blood and break it down. The down side is that it is probably filtered quite quickly by the kidneys and may not enter the liver where it is needed the most.
4. Glutathione Intramuscular Injections. Some doctors offer intramuscular injections of glutathione inject 100 mg glutathione mixed with 1 mg of ATP two times a week, The drawback is that this probably only benefits the muscles into which it was injected. A source for I.M. glutathione is McGuff Compounding Pharmacy in Santa Ana, CA (877) 444-1133.
5. Glutathione Transdermal Skin Cream. This is a form of reduced glutathione that is made into a gel or lotion. These creams have a strong smell and it is questionable how much is actually absorbed into the blood stream. Creams are available at http://www.kirkmanlabs.com and gel is available at http://www.leesilsby.com.
6. Glutathione Transdermal Skin Patches. These patches, applied directly to the skin, would deliver glutathione in the same manner as the transdermal skin creams. The actual amount of absorption into the cells is not known.
There is a new product on the market that supposedly increases glutathione by using a patch that stimulates acupuncture points on the body with a combination of pressure and infrared energy. The patch contains no glutathione or glutathione precursors, so I am very skeptical about this product.
6. Glutathione Suppositories. This is probably a good way to get a substantial amount of glutathione into the blood stream and is probably relatively inexpensive. A prescription is probably required. One source is Lionville Natural Pharmacy in Lionville, PA phone (877) 363-7474 another source is http://www.wellnesshealth.com
7. Glutathione Nasal Spray. I have heard of people mixing their own nasal spray by using a glutathione from a compounding pharmacy mixing it with saline and spraying it in the nose. Spray such as this would have to be kept refrigerated because reduced glutathione changes when mixed in a solution. It is unknown how much would enter the bloodstream by this method. http://www.wellnesshealth.com
8. Nebulized Glutathione. This novel approach was pioneered by Dr. Buhl from the NIH. It is also used by well known M.D.’s such as Dr. Julian Whitaker. Another pioneer in the use of aerosol glutathione is Valerie Hudson who used it for cystic fibrosis. It is now being used for COPD and pulmonary fibrosis and MCS.
There are several sources of Glutathione for nebulizing but one of the most popular is L-Glutathione Plus capsules from Theranaturals mixed with sterile water, applied with a nebulizer. No prescription is required for the product. The important feature of the Theranaturals brand is that it is buffered with sodium bicarbonate to keep the PH down. If the PH is too acid it could lead to bronchospasms. People who are subject to asthma attacks should not use this route.
9. Tumeric. This spice has been shown to stimulate glutathione production.
Final thoughts. Like I mentioned before, even though glutathione is crucial for the body to function properly, getting it from outside sources can be challenging depending on your physiology. Those with CBS and NOS mutations, or those who have asthma, or those who for any reason are on a reduced sulphur diet, should consult a healthcare practitioner before supplementing with glutathione or any of its precursors.
Just remember, supplementing with glutathione does not correct the reason for poor production in the body. However, for some people, glutathione supplementation could be that way to go to help clear the body of toxins and help put the body on the path to healing, while in the mean time you correct the underlying reasons for the deficiency. Educate yourself, consult a professional, and learn what will work for you.