Tag Archives: glutathione


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The Glutathione-Autoimmune Connection! (Part 2)

by Sean Croxton

NOTE: If you have not read yesterday’s blog, this one will likely go over your head. Check it out and come on back!

So now that we’ve met the players in this game, let’s discuss how we can keep them from screwing up team chemistry and resulting in autoimmunity.

Once considered quackery, the role of the gut mucosa, or intestinal barrier, has over the years become a more established factor in triggering autoimmunity. As you learned yesterday, when your gut is inflamed with big holes punched in it (intestinal hyperpermeability), undigested food particles and other not-so-nice stuff can make their way into the circulation (your bloodstream) and trigger an immune response.

But what happens when your immune system gets a little trigger-happy? What happens when that undigested rib-eye steak molecule you’ve been fighting off for years starts to look a lot like your thyroid, or your pancreas, or your adrenal glands?

In a case of mistaken identity, your immune system begins attacking tissues, organ, and glands. It can even attack hormones like estrogen, leaving you infertile. No bueno. This process is called molecular mimicry, confusing one molecule with another.

Environmental toxins, called haptens, can also trigger autoimmune reactions. Haptens include inorganic compounds like the formaldehyde coming out of your carpet, chemicals in your water, as well as heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium.

Here’s where glutathione comes in. As I explained in last week’s Underground Antioxidant blog, one of glutathione’s primary roles is detoxification. It acts like sticky paper grabbing onto toxins and carrying them out of the body for you. In other words, when rogue chemicals and bad guys come into your body, glutathione takes the hit for you, allowing the immune system to rest.

However, when glutathione levels are depleted due to aging, toxicity, stress, and poor diet, YOU take the hit. And you take it right in the immune system! When environmental toxins enter the body with your glutathione defenses down, big bad TH-17 is upregulated, contributing to autoimmune flare-ups.

If you recall, the activity of the TH-17 system determines the severity of the autoimmune flare-up. If you are currently dealing with autoimmunity, or would like to avoid it altogether, downregulating TH-17 by way of maximizing glutathione levels is certainly in your best interest.

Note: If you are a practitioner and suspect toxicity is playing a role in your patient’s or client’s autoimmune condition, you may want to think twice about using heavy detox protocols (like chelation) without increasing glutathione levels first. Heavy metal chelation can be devastating to anyone with autoimmunity if glutathione is not there to take the hit.

Let’s get back to the TH-1 and TH-2 balancing act. Autoimmune conditions typically (but not always) show dominance in one system over the other. The role of the T-regulatory cells is to reduce this polarity. When there is a downregulation of these T-regulatory cells, TH-1 and TH-2 go off kilter, thus triggering the faulty immune process.

Glutathione to the rescue!


Posted by in wellness

The Glutathione-Autoimmune Connection! (Part 1)

by Sean Croxton

I love living in downtown San Diego.

I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’ve been here for almost three years. The people are nice, crime is low, and Padres season never fails to liven things up during the spring and summer months.

But if there is one thing I haven’t gotten used to in all my time here it’s the one-way streets. Those things come out of nowhere! There have been plenty of days when I’d come to my senses at just the last moment before going against traffic down 7th Avenue.

I prefer walking to driving anyway. At least once a week I catch myself waving my arms frantically from the sidewalk in an attempt to get an errant driver’s attention.

No one wants to see an accident.

But imagine a place where no one called out to that driver, a place where oncoming traffic preferred not to flash their lights and slow down, where bystanders just stopped, watched, and waited for a head-on collision.

That would be crazy.

Such is the state of conventional medicine’s approach to autoimmunity. Allow me to explain.

Right now, approximately 50 million Americans, or one in five people reading this blog right now, suffer from autoimmune disease. According to our good friend-in-gluten Dr. Tom O’Bryan, autoimmunity is the number three cause of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) in the industrialized world. Unfortunately, many people with autoimmune conditions are either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

Autoimmunity is what happens when your body’s immune system goes haywire and confuses your own tissues as foreign invaders. The immune system produces antibodies against these tissues, causing their progressive destruction.

The keyword here is progressive. It doesn’t happen overnight.

For example, your immune system may be currently producing antibodies to your thyroid. You may not feel any effects today, however five years from now you may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Your doc may ignore the antibodies (they usually never test for them anyway) and prescribe some form of thyroid medication. Yet the problem does not reside in the thyroid itself. Rather, the root cause is the autoimmune reaction being perpetrated by the thyroid antibodies produced by your immune system! Medication won’t stop these antibodies from flaring up and chewing away at your thyroid tissue. The destruction continues.

So you’re in and out of the doc’s office for years with the same recurring symptoms that only seem to be getting worse. Eventually, you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition for which severe conditions are commonly treated with steroid medications. Not good.

Here’s my beef. In order for an autoimmune condition to be officially diagnosed, there must be severe tissue destruction. But again, this destruction does not happen overnight. It is progressive. What absolutely boggles my mind is that the current medical approach to autoimmunity is to be the bystander watching the car drive against traffic without warning until an accident happens!


Posted by in wellness

Glutathione: The Underground Antioxidant

by Sean Croxton

It is called the master antioxidant.

Master detoxifier, too.

It protects every single one of your 50 to 75 trillion cells, including your brain.

The lower your levels of it, the higher your risk of cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmunity.

And as of today, a Pubmed search displays 95663 scientific articles on it.

BUT I bet you’ve never heard of it.

Why? Well, maybe because you can’t fortify juices, cereals, and Diet 7-Up with it.

Or maybe because today’s multi-billion dollar antioxidant industry will crumble to its knees once the public catches wind of it.

When it comes to antioxidants, glutathione is as underground as it gets.

Before we jump into exactly what glutathione does, let’s discus why it does it. You have probably heard the phrase “the powerhouse of the cell”. Every time I hear that I flash back to elementary school and the entire class shouting “THE MITOCHONDRIA!”.

The mitochondria’s nickname couldn’t be any more appropriate. Housed within each of your cells, they generate the energy your body runs on by way of utilizing oxygen to convert food into fuel, or what is known as ATP.

Just like your car produces exhaust as a byproduct of the burning of gasoline, the mitochondria’s energy production system creates reactive oxygen species, better known as free radicals.

The mitochondria have a built-in protection system (antioxidant enzymes) to protect themselves from these free radical scavengers. However, 5% escape and wreak havoc on the cell, including damage to the DNA (potentially cancerous), enzymes, and cellular membrane. No bueno!

To get an idea of how these free radicals work, let’s use an analogy I actually heard last night from my friend Blue Elam. If you were to put 10 rambunctious boys into a room with 9 basketballs, what would happen?

First of all, you’d be a cruel, mean person for doing that. But the boy without a ball would steal a ball from another. And then the boy who doesn’t have a ball anymore will steal one from the next boy. And it never stops!

This is exactly what free radicals do. They steal electrons from vital areas of your cells in order to fill their outer shells. This process, called oxidative stress, has been associated with over 200 different diseases and conditions. In fact, a Pubmed search for oxidative stress displays 87374 scientific papers! In some cases, the free radicals cause the disease. In others, the disease causes the oxidative stress.

This is exactly why we have become so enamored with dietary antioxidants in the forms of expensive juices, supplements, and of course, fortification of processed foods.

As we discussed in Tuesday’s blog, dietary antioxidants, while effective, are in fact inferior to the antioxidant enzymes produced by your cells. These enzymes include superoxide dismutase, catalase, and the pound-for-pound antioxidant champ glutathione.

Glutathione is a protein consisting of three amino acids (a tripeptide). Its job is to act as a cellular security guard and protect the cell and mitochondria from free radical damage. When glutathione levels become depleted due to aging, stress, heavy metals, pollution, radiation, poor diet, and more, free radicals run wild. One consequence is the dimming of the lights in your cellular powerhouse. In other words, your energy production slows down. Is it any wonder why we have an epidemic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome!

Glutathione works in conjunction with dietary antioxidants. It breathes new life into the water-soluble vitamin C, which then interacts with the fat-soluble vitamin E and CoQ10 (also vital for energy production), helping to keep antioxidant levels of those intact. (Perricone, 35)

If you’re taking a handful of vitamin supplements every day, you’ll be well served to boost your glutathione levels to keep them hanging around for longer.

In a nutshell, glutathione is what I call the bomb!

But don’t take my word for it.