Glutathione (GSH) is a critical antioxidant made up of 3 amino acids (proteins). Although some Glutathione comes from the diet, most is made by your body. Its production requires energy molecules that may be low in CFIDS/FMS. The body requires ATP and NADPH (which requires TPP) to make Glutathione. As you may recall from my last newsletter, these may be inadequate in CFIDS/FMS and Glutathione activity may be low.
Glutathione is needed to:
1. Protect your mitochondrial energy furnaces from damaging themselves (this function is critical). The mitochondria make a steady stream of damaging “free radicals” as an unavoidable by-product of making energy (what Dr. Parris Kidd calls “metabolic friction”). Glutathione acts here, like vitamins C and E, as a very potent antioxidant. This activity is so important that the mitochondria are the first areas to be damaged when glutathione deficiency occurs. An ever increasing body of evidence is also building that suggests that the cumulative effect of these free radicals are major causes of degenerative diseases and the aging process.
2. Help the liver detoxify compounds made by the body (what the liver was made to do) and the thousands of new chemicals and medications that modern society exposes one to. Dealing with all these new chemicals is not something the liver was expecting to do. Detoxifying cigarette smoke, chemicals, alcohol or the medications one takes (especially Tylenol or Acetaminophen) can markedly deplete the body’s glutathione. This can result in later chemical and medication sensitivity, as well as damaging the mitochondrial energy furnaces.
3. Aid in proper immune function. Strenuous aerobic exercise can deplete muscle antioxidants. Many chronic infections can also cause depletion of glutathione (and thus mitochondrial damage). Taking vitamin C (1000mg a day) plus a natural vitamin E (400 units a day) may augment the effectiveness of glutathione. While the diet supplies about 150mg a day of glutathione, the majority of the body’s glutathione is made by the liver. Sulfur intake (in proteins and perhaps as MSM -Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) increases the body’s glutathione production, as does taking 500mg of n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) a day. Glutathione can also be taken directly at a dose of 50-250mg a day.
One can postulate that glutathione depletion can account for how viral and toxin exposures can trigger mitochondrial dysfunction, and thereby, CFIDS/FMS. Chronic viral infections can cause glutathione depletion. Chemicals, toxins medications or elevated hormone exposures can cause activation/induction of the liver Cytochrome P450 detoxification function which can cause depletion of liver glutathione stores.
By any cause, glutathione deficiency in the liver (its main storage area) can cause mitochondrial glutathione depletion. This depletion can cause mitochondrial dysfunction with decreased ATP and Thiamine Diphosphate and Triphosphate (TDP and TPP) production. TDP and TPP are needed to make NADPH. ATP and NADPH are needed to make glutathione. Thus, excessive Glutathione depletion from chronic infections or chemical exposures can cause mitochondrial dysfunction, low TPP and ATP, and also contribute to the chemical and medication sensitivity seen in CFIDS/FMS. Thus, this expands our understanding the underlying causes of CFIDS/FMS.
(Kidd PM, “Glutathione [A Review-98 Ref]: Alternative Medicine Review; pp 155-1 76, Vol. 2 #3; 1997 and Groff JL, et al.; (Ed) “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism;” West Publishing Company; 1995; pp 23 7-243.)
A Healthy Sweetener!
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Stevia is a natural sweetener and is 30 to 100 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used for centuries and is likely to be much safer than sugar or NutraSweetR. It has essentially no calories and is high in several minerals. About 40% of Japanese low calorie products are made with Stevia and many other countries permit Stevia to be used in food processing.
In addition, Stevia inhibits dental cavities. Small amounts go a long way. It tastes good and can be used in drinks, cereals, etc. Use the liquid or powder forms. If you want to make your own from scratch, mix the powdered leaves with water and let them stand overnight. You can then cook the mixture down into a concentrated syrup that will keep in the refrigerator for about one week. I prefer the pre-made form described above. It is easy and it lasts a long time.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort (hypericum) is used more than Prozac for depression in Germany, where about 70% of physician’s routinely treat with herbal remedies. In an analysis of 23 studies on 1757 depressed patients, 60% improved with Hypericum (vs. 22% on placebo). In 8 studies comparing Hypericum with standard antidepressants (e.g., Prozac), the herb was as or more effective. Over 66 million daily doses of Hypericum were prescribed in Germany in 1994, where it is used for anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.
St. John’s Wort has been used since ancient times. Hippocrates, Pliny and Galen used it as a diuretic and for wound healing, sciatica and hip pain. It has been used throughout Europe and the Americas. Its name comes from its flowers blooming around St. John’s Day (June 24th) and its red pigment which was associated with the blood of St. John the Baptist.
Although its exact mechanism of action is being actively explored, St. John’s Wort seems to work by increasing serotonin’s (a brain chemical) effectiveness, modulating the relationship between the immune system and the mood and supplying important nutrients (e.g., flavonoids).
St. John’s Wort is almost free of significant side effects at the usual dose of 300-325mg, 3 times a day. Despite being prescribed for millions of people, I’ve seen no published cases or reports of any serious toxicity. At twice the standard dose, sunlight and/or or ultraviolet light skin sensitization can occur.
St. John’s Wort comes in many forms. Be sure to protect it from light (which inactivates the active Hypericum) or high temperatures (over 85F). It typically takes 6 weeks to see the effect.
An Adrenal Stimulant & “Antacid”
DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice)-licorice extract, in which the Glycyrrhizin has been removed, appears to be helpful for indigestion. Antacids and Tagamet (which turns off stomach acid) may worsen digestion and prevent proper absorption of proteins, vitamins and minerals. The loss of the stomach’s acid “barrier” may also allow infection with parasites, fungi, bacteria and viruses which would otherwise be killed by the stomach’s acid. Antacids and Tagamet also prevent absorption of Sporinox, an anti-yeast medication. In contrast, DGL licorice appears to increase the stomach lining’s natural protection against the acid.
Source: Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum is the renowned author of “From Fatigued to Fantastic,” one of the premier texts on treating CFIDS and Fibromyalgia, as well as being the editor of a newsletter by the same name. He remains at the forefront of research and treatment of both CFIDS and FM. As a member of the Healthwatch Advisory Board, we are pleased to reprint a portion of the preceeding article from Dr. Teitelbaum’s newsletter. This excerpt is the last in a series, beginning with the Spring issue of Healthwatch. If you would like more information about Dr. Teitelbaum’s book or newsletter, you may call 1-800-333-5287 or visit his website at www.endfatigue.com.