Your Complete Guide to L-Glutathione: Uses, Side Effects, Dosing, & More

Elite HRT

Written by Elite HRT on October 12, 2021

Medically reviewed by

Camille Frecking, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, MEDICAL ADVISOR

Looking for a new nutraceutical that may address your needs and help to improve your quality of life? L-glutathione is one of the most well-rounded nutraceuticals that can help support many people’s lives. L-glutathione can be thought of more as a nutritional supplement than as a medication. 

Keep reading to learn more about the complete guide to L-glutathione including the uses, benefits, side effects, dosing, and more. 

What Is L-Glutathione?

L-glutathione is a molecule in the body that is also referred to as GSH. L-glutathione is made up of three different amino acids, which are cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. 

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein in the body and they each have an important role to produce proteins with different compositions and functions. L-glutathione perfectly combines these three ingredients to create a molecule that is focused on three roles: breaking down nutrients in the body, reducing oxidative stress, and metabolizing toxins. 

L-glutathione is offered in several different forms to allow you flexibility in choosing the route that works best for you. The two main options are an injection into the muscle (IM) or directly into the vein (IV) placed by a medical professional. The most appropriate administration route can be determined with your healthcare provider to see which option will be best

What Can You Use L-Glutathione For?

L-glutathione production aids several roles in the body and therefore has several purported health benefits. The three main uses of L-glutathione as a nutraceutical are to be a powerful antioxidant, rid toxins from the body, and help to break down nutrients for energy. 

It is important to note that the body does produce its own L-glutathione, but as you age, you may see the amount of L-glutathione reduced, leaving healthy cells susceptible to damage. Having a supplemental source of L-glutathione, especially as you age, may be a great way to support your cellular health.

Assists in Metabolising Toxins

L-glutathione is present in not only humans but other mammals, plants, and fungi like mushrooms. In all three organisms, L-glutathione plays the same role of detoxifying the body. It can do this detoxification process by removing electrophilic molecules and reactive peroxides that can cause damages. It does this detoxification throughout the entire body but is especially concentrated in the liver to do this work. 

To simplify this process: L-glutathione essentially binds to the toxins, which makes them inactive, so they can be expelled from the body. The enzymes that bind the toxins to L-glutathione are called glutathione S-transferases. 

Some of the common toxins that it may help to detox from the body are heavy metals, drugs, extra hormones, pollutants, and potentially even carcinogens. 

Reduces Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress and L-glutathione are two terms you will hear used together very frequently. L-glutathione is one of the best examples of an antioxidant that there is. 

An antioxidant is a molecule that protects you against free radicals. Free radicals are uncharged molecules that are very reactive and can cause damage in the body when they interact with the body’s healthy cells. Free radicals can cause damage by disrupting DNA replication and protein creation, which can eventually lead to disease. 

Antioxidants like L-glutathione reduce the reactive oxygen species created during cellular metabolism, and regulate the activity of the redox sensitive transcription factor NF-κB. 

In other words, antioxidants have an important job of neutralizing the free radicals and preventing them from causing damage to the body. 

Since L-glutathione is an endogenous antioxidant it works in the body to prevent free radicals from leading to oxidative damage. It can also aid the regeneration of vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. 

The reduction of oxidative stress is one of the most important roles of L-glutathione and is one of the biggest reasons that people use it as a nutraceutical. 

Breaks Down Nutrients

In addition to being a super fighter against oxidative stress and toxins, L-glutathione also works with your digestive system to break down the nutrients in your food into smaller parts that your body can use for fuel. 

For example, your body might break down a steak into the protein and fats that are in it so your body can utilize it for fuel. Or your body might break down your salad to use the vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates as energy. 

While L-glutathione is not going to be physically “chewing” your food for you, it can work as a chemical agent to help break down the nutrients into smaller more useful pieces for your body. 

Who knew that such a small molecule could be so helpful in many different ways in the body?

What Are the Benefits of L-Glutathione?

Now that you know the uses for L-glutathione you are probably wondering what the benefits are in a practical sense. 

There are countless benefits, but supporting circulation and supporting the liver are two notable benefits of L-glutathione. 

Supporting Circulation

The circulation in your body is very important to ensure all of your organs can get enough blood supply and return the used blood back to the heart and lungs. 

If something gets in the way of the arteries or veins such as hardened walls or plaques there may be a circulatory problem that can lead to severe complications. When this occurs there are usually a couple of options for treatments, including lifestyle modifications, medications, and even surgery if it is very progressed. 

Nitric oxide works in the walls of the vessels to vasodilate or expand the diameter of the vessel to allow more blood to flow. When the vessels are expanded, it is easier for the blood to flow to the rest of the body and improve circulation. Higher levels of L-glutathione may stimulate increased production of nitric oxide.

What Are the Side Effects of L-Glutathione?

Even though L-glutathione is naturally produced in the body, when it is introduced through a synthetic form such as a supplement or injection, it may cause side effects. 

The most common side effects of L-glutathione supplementation include digestive symptoms such as cramps or feeling bloated. 

Also, it should be noted that anything can cause an allergy, so if you are experiencing a severe reaction such as difficulty breathing, hives, rash, or swelling of the lips or tongue you should get emergency help and report this to your healthcare provider. 

What is the Most Common Dose of L-Glutathione?

More research needs to be done about L-glutathione and the standard dosage that should be administered. Always follow the guidance of your healthcare provider regarding the dose of L-glutathione that you should be taking — L-glutathione doses don’t really have a standard dose and can range as much as a few hundred mg per week to a few thousand mg per week. 

If you are experiencing side effects, tell your provider so they can adjust your dosage appropriately. Also, keep in mind that finding the perfect dose for you may take time and your dose may be adjusted over your treatment so that your healthcare provider can find the best dose for you. 

What Is the Difference Between Glutathione and L-Glutathione?

Reduced glutathione, or L-glutathione, and oxidized glutathione are two different things, but what is the difference? 

L-glutathione is the active form of the molecule which allows it to react appropriately in the body and make the differences that you read about above. Alternatively, oxidized glutathione is an inactivated form that is produced after L-glutathione begins oxidizing free radicals. 

Eventually, L-glutathione becomes inactivated and reaches its capacity for working as an antioxidant. Luckily, after L-glutathione is inactive it can become active again through a chemical cycle involving the enzyme glutathione reductase. L-glutathione and oxidized glutathione are constantly in a cycle that keeps the body in balance and can recycle its products to make them useful again. 

Typically only the active form, L-glutathione or GSH, is offered as a nutraceutical, not oxidized glutathione, or glutathione disulfide (GSSG).

Conclusion

L-glutathione is a peptide of the amino acids L-cysteine, glycine, and L-glutamate that work together to make big moves in the body. L-glutathione is not a medication that is prescribed for a specific ailment but instead can help to support the body in different systems as well as overall to prevent oxidative damage from occurring. 

L-glutathione is best used as support before extensive oxidative damage has been done to support the body in maintaining optimal health for as long as possible. 

Speak with your health care provider to determine if L-glutathione is right for you or to discuss possible adverse effects or precautions. Possible side effects of L-glutathione include abdominal cramps, bloating, or allergic reactions. 

Seek medical advice if any adverse reactions do occur. As with all medications and supplements, L-glutathione should be kept outside of the reach of children. 

Ready to see if L-glutathione is a good fit for you? Schedule a consult with Elite HRT by clicking here

Sources:

Glutathione | NCBI

Glutathione Injection | Empower Pharmacy

Glutathione – an overview | Science Direct

Glutathione reverses endothelial dysfunction and improves nitric oxide bioavailability | Science Direct