Antioxidant-rich supplements and foods will help you tame inflammation, buffer the damage from toxins, and help improve your symptoms of Hashimoto’s low thyroid, but the most vital antioxidant is the one we make on our own: Glutathione.
Well known antioxidant sources are vitamins C and E, beta carotene, turmeric, resveratrol, and foods such as blueberries, tomatoes, and red wine. But you can’t take straight glutathione. Your gut can’t absorb it. The good news is, though, you can take precursors to glutathione or special forms of the compound that your gut can absorb.
Glutathione is known as the “master antioxidant”
Antioxidants are compounds that prevent oxidation, a chemical reaction that produces free radicals, which are toxic.
Free radicals are toxic because they are unstable and steal electrons from other molecules. Our bodies produce them and they also come into our bodies through environmental toxins in food, air, water, and even medication. Free radicals damage cells and play a major role in serious health problems such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
While we need to consume antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, that alone may not be enough to defend us from environmental toxins and tame Hashimoto’s. Many benefit from supplementing absorbable forms of glutathione or glutathione precursors.
The important duties of glutathione
Glutathione’s important jobs include helping the liver better detoxify and to dampen inflammation.
Liver detox. Glutathione binds with toxins in the liver to help move them out of the body. It’s such an effective process that IV infusions of NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), a precursor, or building block, for glutathione are given to people who overdose on Tylenol.
Inflammation. Glutathione “takes the bullet” for cells by offering itself up to free radicals. This prevents the free radicals from damaging cells, such as the thyroid in Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
But if your glutathione levels are too low, free radical damage can significantly damage cells and contribute to inflammatory health condition such as:
- Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
- Chemical sensitivities
- Heavy metal sensitivities
- Autoimmune diseases and flares
- Inflammatory and immune disorders
Poor glutathione status is also linked to various disease states and populations:
- Athletic overtraining
- Major injuries and trauma
- Patients with wasting diseases such as HIV and AIDS
- Lung cancer
- Gut-based diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Alcoholism and fatty liver disease
- Diabetes and low glucose tolerance
Many time, raising glutathione can be therapeutic for many health disorders.
How to boost glutathione status
These days, it’s impossible to completely escape toxic burdens. Improving your glutathione levels through proper supplementation can help protect you you from toxins, dampen your inflammation, and improve your Hashimoto’s low thyroid symptoms.
Here are ways to support your glutathione status:
S-acetyl glutathione is a newer and very absorbable form of glutathione.
Oral liquid liposomal glutathione has absorbable glutathione and glutathione precursors that help your body make glutathione inside the cells.
Liposomal cream can be used in localized areas of pain or inflammation, such as over the thyroid.
IV drip is extremely effective, however, it is also very expensive and difficult to access for many people.
Other methods of glutathione delivery include suppositories, nebulizers, and sublingual forms. They can help you better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Glutathione recycling for Hashimoto’s low thyroid
You want glutathione inside the cells. This is because it protects cellular mitochondria, which produce energy and are foundational to health and longevity. The body must be able to recycle glutathione to do this.
Glutathione must be reduced to be recycled:
There are two main forms of glutathione in the body:
- Reduced glutathione
- Oxidized glutathione
Reduced glutathione sacrifices itself to free radicals to protect mitochondria. An enzyme called glutathione peroxidase converts reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione, which is a free radical itself.
When there is enough glutathione in the cell, the oxidized glutathione becomes stable again by pairing with available glutathione. An enzyme called glutathione reductase triggers this process and sends it back to reduced glutathione status.
To support glutathione, reduce stress on the body:
- Balance blood sugar
- Restore gut health
- Address food intolerances
- Manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid through other functional medicine strategies
- Manage hormonal imbalances
- Get plenty of sleep
- Cut down on an over-committed schedule
- Get adequate exercise
- Make time for play and enjoyment
- Minimize exposure to toxins in and out of the home
The following compounds support glutathione recycling:
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is rapidly metabolized into intracellular glutathione.
- L-glutamine is important for glutathione generation.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) directly recycles and extends the metabolic life spans of vitamin C, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10, necessary for glutathione recycling.
- Selenium is a trace element that serves as the essential cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which converts reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione so glutathione can “take the bullet” to protect cells.
- Milk thistle significantly increases glutathione and positively influences the ratios of reduced and oxidized glutathione.
- Gotu kola increases the activity and amount of glutathione peroxidase and the quantity of glutathione.
- Cordyceps activates glutathione synthesis and protects cells by engaging the glutathione enzyme cycle.
To optimize your glutathione levels and recycling and better manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid, please contact my office for guidance.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.