What is the L-Glutathione Peptide?
L-Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide that contains three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid.(1) A crucial component protects the cells from oxidative stress, mainly when there are too many toxins and free radicals in our bodies. Besides acting as an intracellular scavenger of free radicals, L-Glutathione peptide also promotes the synthesis of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10, and alpha lipoic acid.(2)
L-Glutathione (600mg) is a water-soluble antioxidant that, besides playing a pivotal role in removing harmful toxins from the body, also helps to boost the immune system, heal wounds and burns, and reduce inflammation.
L-Glutathione is naturally available in the human body. It can also be found in meat, fish, dairy products, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. L-Glutathione comes in different forms, such as L-glutamine, N-acetyl cysteine, N-acetyl methionine, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), and L-methionine. These forms of glutathione are all metabolized into glutathione in the body.
After the age of 40, the L-Glutathione proportion in the human body drops by 20%, which is why we become prone to weakness and diseases. The only way to combat this deficit is via supplementing our deficient proteins.
The Benefits of the L-Glutathione Peptide
L-Glutathione is helpful as an antioxidant naturally produced in the body via a redox reaction between amino acids Glutamate and Cysteine. Within the cysteine structure of GSH, the sulfur ion undergoes a redox reaction and removes all free radicals, peroxides, nitrogen dioxide, and various other toxins from the body, thus protecting the body’s cellular structures.(2)
L-Glutathione also helps alleviate chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms by increasing energy levels, reducing depression and anxiety, improving cognitive function, and relieving muscle pain and headaches. In addition to these benefits, it can also reduce blood pressure by lowering blood viscosity in those who suffer from hypertension.
The peptide is so essential that decreasing levels in the body indicate disease severity and progression.(3)Referring to L-Glutathione as ‘the master antioxidant,’ Garrett Teskey et al. state that
‘Glutathione (GSH) participates not only in antioxidant defense systems but many metabolic processes, and therefore its role cannot be overstated. GSH deficiency causes cellular risk for oxidative damage, and thus, as expected, GSH imbalance is observed in a wide range of pathological conditions, including tuberculosis (TB), HIV, diabetes, cancer, and aging. Consequently, it is not surprising that GSH has attracted the attention of biological researchers and pharmacologists alike as a possible target for medical intervention’.(3)
Additional Benefits of the L-Glutathione Peptide:
- It governs the proper functioning of the cells. Research(4,5)has shown that this peptide is a critical component that aids the proper folding of the proteins and forming disulfide bonds, allowing them to bind with the receptors and function adequately.
- There are ongoing discussions about whether this peptide acts as a neurotransmitter. This peptide activates ionotropic and purinergic receptors in the Muller cells. These cells are present in the retina and ensure the proper functioning of the retinal cells. This is indicative that either GSH is a neurotransmitter itself or it is crucial for maintaining neurotransmitter regulation.
- As an antioxidant, this peptide beats aging processes such as oxidative damage, making it an excellent anti-aging compound. Oxidative reactions cause damage to cells and tissues and enhance hormonal and metabolic aging – all of which can be mitigated by this peptide.
- Glutathione plays a complex role when it comes to cancer. It acts in preventing cancer but also works against it when treating cancer. Just like other toxins, glutathione kills tumors and carcinogens that cause cancer. Nevertheless, during treatment, it ‘protects’ the cells from the chemotherapy effects, treating them like other toxins and kicking them out of the body.(6)
- Research has shown that the peptide functions differently depending on the environment. For instance, studies in rats(7) have shown that when administered orally, the peptide prevents the development of skin cancer following exposure to sunlight and UV rays. Based on this 2019 study, Tava Shelan Nagapan et al. further suggest that ‘L-Glutathione has the potential to be developed as a photoprotection agent against UVB-induced oxidative stress and melanogenesis.’
- With age, the levels of L-Glutathione decrease, and the brain becomes more susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.(8)When the body is stressed, L-Glutathione protein is triggered to reduce stress. However, since these protein levels decline with age, the elderly become more prone to stress. This is indicative that L-Glutathione supplementation helps reverse the adverse effects of reduced GSH protein in the body.
- One of the other prominent roles of the peptide is as a supportive component to Muller cells located in the eye retina. Muller cells are essential in allowing light to the retinal cells and maintaining the nutrient levels in the retina, thereby protecting the eyes from viral infection and diabetic retinopathy.
- Research(9)in animal models has shown that the peptide plays a vital role in promoting retinal health and maintaining good eyesight. Combined with other antioxidants, L-Glutathione peptides reduce oxidative stress on the eye and prevent age-dependent changes such as cataracts and poor eyesight.
- L-Glutathione is critical in maintaining good cartilage health. Poor cartilage health leads to arthritis and osteoarthritis. L-Glutathione supplementation and resting the cartilage improve cartilage health, thereby delaying adverse effects.(10)
- Studies(11) show that when L-Glutathione was administered for 12 weeks, it promoted healthy-looking skin by preventing the formation of wrinkles, photo-aging and improving skin elasticity. Results also showed that aging spots and puffiness were reduced due to lower instances of melanin synthesis.
L-Glutathione and Immunity
L-Glutathione boosts the immune system by removing all the toxins in the body and enhancing the functioning of the natural killer (NK) cells. Studies(12) have shown that they show significantly improved immunity when the peptide is administered to HIV patients. This is because when administered in the body, the peptide creates stores of glutathione, which enhances the lymphocytes’ ability to proliferate – thus making the immune system more robust. R Sinha et al. mention that ‘Although [the clinical study being] small in size, the results from this study provide support for the potential use of oral liposomal GSH as an intervention strategy for enhancing tissue GSH levels for use in disease therapy or prevention.’(13)
Adverse Effects of the L-Glutathione Peptide
Though experts are still evaluating the L-Glutathione peptide, there are some common known side effects of the peptide, including:
- Stomach upset if taken on an empty stomach or without food
- Diarrhea if taken with certain medications like antibiotics or steroids
L-Glutathione should not be taken if you are allergic to shellfish or have kidney disease or liver failure history. Those with epilepsy or psychosis should not take this supplement, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women, as it may cause congenital disabilities in the child.
Peptide Supplementation and Types
Although L-Glutathione peptide supplementation has several benefits, studies have shown no real benefit when peptides are administered in healthy candidates. This suggests that peptide supplementation may not necessarily be beneficial if you are healthy; instead, it is more effective when one is sick or aged.
This peptide is available in different forms and can be administered either orally, via inhalation, or injectable. However, L-Glutathione is quickly metabolized by the gastrointestinal system, making oral administration a less viable option. Evidence suggests that L-Glutathione must be injected or taken nasally for best results.
L-Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that enhances the body’s immunity, boosts energy levels, and fights age. Naturally available in the body, L-Glutathione acts via redox reactions and induces protein and receptor binding.
L-Glutathione is an excellent peptide with several benefits in the therapeutic field. However, this compound is only available for educational and research purposes and should not be consumed or used by humans.
- Joseph Pizzorno, Glutathione!, IMCJ Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 2014 Feb, 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684116/
- Henry Jay Forman et al., Glutathione: Overview of its protective roles, measurement, and biosynthesis, Mol Aspects Med.2009; 30(1-2); 1-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696075/
- Teskey G, Abrahem R, Cao R, Gyurjian K, Islamoglu H, Lucero M, Martinez A, Paredes E, Salaiz O, Robinson B, Venketaraman V. Glutathione as a Marker for Human Disease. Adv Clin Chem. 2018;87:141-159 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30342710/
- S. Tsunoda et al, Intact protein folding in the glutathione-depleted endoplasmic reticulum implicates alternative protein thiol reductants, eLife, vol. 3, p. e03421, Jul 2014. https://elifesciences.org/articles/03421
- Hércules Rezende Freitas & Ricardo A. de Melo Reis (2017) Glutathione induces GABA release through P2X7R activation on Müller glia, Neurogenesis, 4:1, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25091901/
- Bansal A, Simon MC. Glutathione metabolism in cancer progression and treatment resistance. J Cell Biol. 2018 Jul 2;217(7):2291-2298. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29915025/
- Nagapan TS, Lim WN, Basri DF, Ghazali AR. Oral supplementation of L-glutathione prevents ultraviolet B-induced melanogenesis and oxidative stress in BALB/c mice. Exp Anim. 2019 Nov 6;68(4):541-548. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31243189/
- Maher P. The effects of stress and aging on glutathione metabolism. Aging Res Rev. 2005 May;4(2):288-314. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15936251/
- Babizhayev MA. New concept in nutrition for the maintenance of the aging eye redox regulation and therapeutic treatment of cataract disease; synergism of natural antioxidant imidazole-containing amino acid-based compounds, chaperone, and glutathione boosting agents: a systemic perspective on aging and longevity emerged from studies in humans. Am J Ther. 2010 Jul-Aug;17(4):373-89. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20463577/
- Zhu S, Makosa D, Miller B, Griffin TM. Glutathione as a mediator of cartilage oxidative stress resistance and resilience during aging and osteoarthritis. Connect Tissue Res. 2020 Jan;61(1):34-47. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31522568/
- Weschawalit S, Thongthip S, Phutrakool P, Asawanonda P. Glutathione and its anti-aging and antimelanogenic effects. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017 Apr 27;10:147-153. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28490897/
- Dröge W, Breitkreutz R. Glutathione and immune function. Proc Nutr Soc. 2000 Nov;59(4):595-600. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11115795/
- Raghu Sinha et al., Oral supplementation with liposomal glutathione elevates body stores of glutathione and markers of immune function, European Journal 2018 Jan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6389332/
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Dr. Marinov (MD, Ph.D.) is a researcher and chief assistant professor in Preventative Medicine & Public Health. Prior to his professorship, Dr. Marinov practiced preventative, evidence-based medicine with an emphasis on Nutrition and Dietetics. He is widely published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and specializes in peptide therapy research.