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Glutathione 101

February 14th, 2020

It has been recently reported in the news that a woman died following an injection of glutathione administered by a nurse at a spa in Manila ( For over a decade, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been warning about the use of glutathione as a skin lightening agent and in a public advisory in 2018 (, the FDA cited possible side effects including “toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.”

We do not know the actual circumstances behind this incident but you should consult with a board-certified dermatologist for your skin-related concerns.

Pure, pharmaceutical-grade glutathione by itself, is not fatal to one’s health. In fact, glutathione is a molecule that we actually form inside our body, a large part of which happens in the liver. As we age, the production of this vital molecule begins to decline, thus the need for proper supplementation.

Glutathione is a tripeptide, a compound made of three amino acids, namely cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. It is responsible for maintaining the health of our cells. Among the numerous functions of glutathione are:

1. It is a very powerful antioxidant that minimizes oxidative stress and excessive free radical production which causes premature aging and chronic degenerative diseases.
2. It is a powerful detoxifier. It enhances liver and brain detoxification of heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
3. Decreases sugar cravings
4. Helps recycle other anti-oxidants (such as C and E)
5. Displaces the stimulatory neurotransmitter glutamate, from its binding site (for example, MSG)
6. It is involved in protein and prostaglandin synthesis
7. Involved in DNA synthesis and repair
8. It is a neuromodulator. It transmits information between neurons, such that it’s being used by integrative neurologists in cases of Parkinson’s disease)
9. It is an immunomodulator (regulates the immune system by stimulating the production of interleukin 1 and 2)
10. It is a natural anti-inflammatory (chronic inflammation is another cause of premature aging)

Symptoms of glutathione deficiency can include the following: asthma, hemolytic anemia, immune disorders, and faster progression of chronic infections such as HIV.

Chronic stress, poor diet, acetaminophen toxicity, cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, autoimmune conditions, decreased sulfur intake, environmental toxins, and excessive exercise are causes of glutathione deficiency.

What you can do to meet your body’s Glutathione level requirement

Supplements such as N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA), L-glutamine, methionine, milk thistle, SAMe, Vitamins C and E and whey protein can increase endogenous glutathione levels while food sources of glutathione include asparagus, avocadoes, fish, meat and walnuts.

Taking a minimum of 1800 mg of NAC a day can help increase your glutathione levels. The amino acid linkage in NAC is not broken down by digestive enzymes unlike the one with oral glutathione.

One of the most effective ways to increase levels is through proper intravenous supplementation by a licensed physician. There has been a long history of the use of IV glutathione among integrative doctors in the US and Europe. Among the organizations that provide such training are American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) and American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M). The use of IV glutathione for whitening has only been around fairly recently. It is more popular in SE Asian countries in particular. Use of IV is not allowed in non-hospital settings and unlicensed clinics.

J. Lopez, M.D. Medical Group Inc. is located in Centuria Medical Makati, a one‐stop, outpatient medical-IT facility located at the heart of Century City, Makati. The clinic boasts state-of-the-art equipment and operated by reputable and experienced medical professionals headed by the clinic’s Medical Director, Dr. Joel Lopez.

For inquiries email us at or call us at +63-917-896-0237 (mobile) or +632-8363-3022 (landline).

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For more info, check Klatz, R., The New Anti-Aging Revolution, 2003 and Perlmutter, D.,, 2000.