By Peter Rufa
Your body may hold the answer to many of today’s most mysterious health problems.
For decades scientists and researchers have sought for these answers in drugs, herbs, and a variety of innovative therapies. But what they were looking for may have been inside every cell in every human being the whole time. This may be especially true for those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
That answer is a simple molecule called glutathione. You’re probably familiar with it. Frankly, it’s not a new discovery; scientists have known about it for over a century. Yet, what is new could lead to a revolution in human health.
This revolution will be led by s-acetyl-glutathione, a new bioavailable form of glutathione. This molecule could rejuvenate the body at the cellular level and spell relief (or better) and healthier living for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Quite honestly, it could transform health for everyone else on the planet by addressing the root causes of disease and slowing aging.
S-acetyl-glutathione could be a veritable “fountain of youth.” This has everything to do with the glutathione inside every cell of your body.
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is the human body’s primary antioxidant. Some medical professionals have called it “the master antioxidant.” It consists of three primary amino acids – cysteine, glycine and glutamine – and its powerful antioxidant action comes from sulfur chemical groups. It exists in every cell in the human body with its biggest concentrations in the liver and kidneys. The human body typically recycles glutathione. When it doesn’t, that’s when problems develop.
What does Glutathione do?
As an antioxidant, glutathione protects the body, especially the liver, from free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) created by activities like toxin removal, natural hormone breakdown and cellular chemical reactions that create ROS by-products. This activity protects cells, mitochondria and DNA from damage. Glutathione is also essential for a strong immune system to prevent infection, illness and disease.
Glutathione is not like other antioxidants. Where most antioxidants neutralize free radicals and ROS, they rely on a glutathione-dependent detox process to remove the toxins from the body. This is done through a three-step process (simplified here):
- Toxins are identified and metabolized into a form the body can more easily handle.
- In this phase called “glutathione conjugation,” glutathione binds to metabolites, making them water-soluble and preventing them from spreading and damaging other tissue.
- Glutathione-related enzymes complete the breakdown and excretion of the toxins via the liver or kidneys.
At the end of the process, the body recycles glutathione and uses it to recycle other antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
Why is Glutathione important?
In every moment of our lives, our bodies’ produce or are exposed to vast amounts of free radicals. Glutathione protects us from the damage these free radicals would cause.
- It protects mitochondria from the free radicals produced by the making and breaking of chemical bonds.
- It protects the liver from free radicals produced by the enzymatic reactions that break down food, hormones or any of the more than 300
metabolic processes the liver performs.
- It neutralizes free radicals and damaged cells due to exposure to heavy metals, xenoestrogens and other environmental or dietary toxins.
Glutathione’s importance to mitochondrial function cannot be understated. Mitochondria are the location of energy production in the body. The more you have, the more energy you have and the better each cell works. When mitochondria breakdown, cells produce less energy and don’t work well. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to a host of diseases including metabolic disorders, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, neurologic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome and even aging.i
As the body’s detoxifier, the liver needs abundant glutathione. When the body’s toxic load gets too high, glutathione can’t keep up and neither can the liver. The problem compounds as the liver is the site of glutathione recycling, which drops when the liver is overwhelmed. A downward spiral follows.
This decline in liver function has ramifications throughout the entire body. Digestion may suffer due to a lack of needed enzymes. Hormones may become imbalanced. Toxins may build up in the tissue as the body looks for places to store them to ease the burden on the liver.
Glutathione and Fibromyalgia
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The exact cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery to researchers. Yet, studies have found correlations between glutathione levels, mitochondrial dysfunction and fibromyalgia.
- One study reported individuals with fibromyalgia have significantly lower levels of glutathione when compared to healthy controls.ii
- Researchers see evidence between oxidative stress and corresponding mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with fibromyalgia.iii
- Individuals with fibromyalgia show lower antioxidant levels.iv
Based on the research, antioxidant supplementation might help. However, without enough glutathione to complete the full detoxification process, the additional antioxidants may only offer temporary support. To make matters worse, glutathione levels typically drop as we age.
Glutathione supplementation would seem to be the answer. That however has been problematic.
The Problem with Glutathione Supplementation
Glutathione’s composition has been a problem for oral supplementation. Comprised of three amino acids – cysteine, glycine and glutamine – early glutathione supplements metabolized quickly during digestion, never reaching the blood stream. The answer for years has been to eat foods rich in building block nutrients or supplement with n-acetyl-cysteine or milk thistle. Of course, while indirect supplementation may help, the body may use the nutrients in any number of ways.
For years this has been the problem of glutathione supplementation. And it’s why s-acetyl-glutathione may revolutionize health for fibromyalgia patients, and everyone else in the world too.
What is S-acetyl-glutathione?
This alternative form of reduced glutathione features an acetyl group that protects it from the usual breakdown and enables it to survive digestion and be absorbed into the blood stream. The acetyl group also makes it possible for the glutathione to pass into the cell where it is needed most. The addition of an acid resistant capsule by supplement manufacturers improves its bioavailability.
Early research showed that s-acetyl-glutathione increases the amount of glutathione in cells.v Additional studies indicate it has a positive effect on oxidative stress.
By boosting glutathione levels, S-acetyl-glutathione promises to:
- Support toxin removal
- Reduce oxidative stress
- Improve liver health and efficiency
- Enhance the immune system
- And even protect cells from aging
As those with fibromyalgia commonly have low levels of glutathione, s-acetyl-glutathione may offer a new and innovative approach to provide relief, or perhaps even better outcomes.
Although s-acetyl-glutathione contains essential nutrients recognized by the body, women who are pregnant should always consult with a physician before taking any new supplement. If you have any questions, you should always consult with your physician or primary healthcare provider.
i Nicolson GL. Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Disease: Treatment With Natural Supplements. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. 2014;13(4):35-43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566449/
ii Sendur OF1, et al. Serum antioxidants and nitric oxide levels in fibromyalgia: a controlled study. Rheumatol Int. 2009 Apr;29(6):629-33. doi: 10.1007/s00296-008-0738-x. Epub 2008 Oct 14.
iii Cordero MD1, et al. Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in fibromyalgia. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2010;31(2):169-73.
iv La Rubia M1, Rus A, Molina F, Del Moral ML. Is fibromyalgia-related oxidative stress implicated in the decline of physical and mental health status? Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2013 Nov-Dec;31(6 Suppl 79):S121-7. Epub 2013 Dec 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24373370
v Okun JG1, et al. S-Acetylglutathione normalizes intracellular glutathione content in cultured fibroblasts from patients with glutathione synthetase deficiency. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2004;27(6):783-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15617191