By Michelle Alpert, D.O.
The world we’re living in today is a toxic minefield — from vaccines to pesticides to antibiotic-laden foods to mercury-poisoned fish to pollution both indoors and outdoors. It’s no wonder so many people are suffering from fatigue and chronic illness, as well as chronic infections with viruses, bacteria and fungi. In order to detoxify, I recommend a very effective detoxification “drip” to my patients. My patients know I believe in it, because I get it myself. On long, busy workdays, I can often be found at my office desk, conducting consults with an IV drip that is helping heal my body even as I help heal my patients.
This specialized “detox” intravenous drip is one that has helped patients of mine with chronic fatigue syndrome, lyme disease, multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome. It contains typical vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, B5 and B6, but more importantly, it contains precursors to glutathione, as well as glutathione itself. The precursors include two amino acids, glycine and cysteine. Together with glutathione, they pack a powerful punch that truly assists the body in meeting the demands of modern life. There is a remarkable amount of evidence that glutathione is hugely important in detoxification, and has so many benefits that it can help patients with a range of conditions.
Glutathione is found in every cell in your body. Glutathione scavenges free radicals, detoxifies heavy metals, helps ferry amino acids into the cells, helps in bile production, and much more. Because of all its capacities, glutathione is crucial in maintaining immunity. We don’t get a lot of glutathione in our diet and even then, not much is absorbed directly into the blood. Glutathione is synthesized by our bodies from amino acids. If our bodies cannot make enough glutathione to keep up with the chronic toxic load from infections and poisons, we may end up with immune dysfunction. Stress can also deplete glutathione, because increased adrenaline suppresses glutathione production.
In animal studies, glutathione has been shown to protect against liver cancer; it has also been used in humans to protect them from kidney damage from chemotherapy drugs. It protects kidney function in patients undergoing bypass surgery. In aerosol form, glutathione quenches inflammation in cystic fibrosis patients. This wonderful substance has even been shown to increase insulin production in older individuals who have impaired sugar metabolism. Glutathione also seems to inhibit herpes viruses and has been shown to help reduce viral load in hepatitis C patients.
David Perlmutter, a Florida neurologist, found that intravenous glutathione helps relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Glutathione increases sensitivity to dopamine, which is depleted in Parkinson’s. It may also protect against neurotoxins that may be implicated in the disease. Dr. Perlmutter gave 1400 milligrams of intravenous glutathione three times a week to his Parkinson’s patients, whose symptoms improved, while they were able to reduce the amount of their drugs.
Similarly, Dr. Patricia Kane and Dr. Neil Speight believe they have developed an effective approach to chronic fatigue, lyme disease and neurological illnesses by detoxifying the body with intravenous glutathione and intravenous lipids. As they write in the Townsend newsletter, “GSH infusion by fast intravenous push has been a remarkable tool to unload the body burden of heavy metals and neurotoxins in both pediatric and adult patients.” In my own practice, I add glutathione as a “chaser” (at the very end of a detox drip, to help prevent any oxidation—since glutathione oxidizes easily when exposed to air or in the presence of certain minerals). I have given this to patients with multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, HIV, lyme disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, hepatitis C, or just garden variety stress and fatigue. One hepatitis C patient’s liver values returned to normal and she resumed a full teaching schedule at her university after a series of detox drips. Another patient with chronic lyme disease finds that weekly detox drips with glutathione improve her neurological symptoms of buzzing, burning and fatigue. My own nurse uses glutathione in fighting off colds.
Because oral glutathione is not well absorbed, I have also begun to experiment with nebulized glutathione, which patients can take at home between detox drips. According to a study in Alternative Medicine Review in 2000, nebulized glutathione has had remarkable success in emphysema and other lung disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. It appears that inhalation may have a systemic effect. Some patients are having even greater success with this combination.
Michelle Alpert can be reached by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her office at 212-675-9343.
Where to get glutathione: Preservative-free intravenous glutathione is available from Wellness Pharmacy in Alabama, (800) 880-5882. Wellness Pharmacy also offers glutathione in nasal sprays and oral formulations. For those who do not have access to treatment with intravenous glutathione, whey protein has been found to increase cellular glutathione. Sublingual glutathione is available, and although there are no solid studies proving its effectiveness, it may be helpful. Nebulized glutathione can be used at home under your doctor’s guidance. Key Pharmacy (800-878-1322) can provide glutathione in this form, along with a nebulizer, both by prescription.