By Josh Redd, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, Chiropractic Physician
Antioxidants are a buzz word in health circles that sometimes deliver empty promises. But when it comes to autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, one antioxidant is a must-have in your protocol kit: Glutathione. Glutathione is considered the body’s master antioxidant and you need it dampen autoimmune disease and lower your risk of developing new autoimmune diseases.
Glutathione protects cells from damage, supports general detoxification, acts as a natural chelator for toxic heavy metals and environmental toxins, and supports healthy immune system function. Glutathione works by protect energy-producing factories inside cells called “mitochondria.”
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit other molecules from going through oxidation, a chemical reaction that produces toxins called free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur naturally but that also enter our bodies through toxins in food, air, water, and even medications. Left unchecked, free radicals damage cells, destabilize the immune system, and contribute to the development of serious health problems.
Glutathione is a compound made by the body that protects cells and tissues from damage by free radicals. While the body makes glutathione, it can also be supplemented in absorbable forms or via nutrients that boost glutathione production.
Normally, our bodies should make enough glutathione to protect us. However, it’s common for glutathione to drop too low in our modern world. We cope with thousands of toxic chemicals in our daily environment, in our food, and our water, even if we lead a very clean, non-toxic life. Sugary diets full of processed foods, food intolerances, leaky gut, and undiagnosed infections are other examples of things that can deplete glutathione due to the chronic inflammatory assaults on the cells.
Glutathione levels also decrease as we age and our need for supplemental glutathione increases significantly.
When glutathione production drops, you are more vulnerable to developing autoimmune disease, chronic pain, chemical sensitivities, leaky gut, and other immune-related disorders.
In fact, glutathione depletion is linked with a number of disease states and groups:
- 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
One of the most important things you can do to improve glutathione status is to remove or mitigate stressors that deplete glutathione. These may include lack of sleep, smoking, food intolerances, diets high in sugars and processed foods, excess alcohol intake, and hormone or immune imbalances.
If you have Hashimoto’s, this typically also means going on a gluten-free diet, as many studies show a connection between Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Studies link low glutathione levels with Hashimoto’s
Recycle glutathione to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
One of the most effective approaches to dampen autoimmune-related inflammation is to support your body’s ability to recycle glutathione. Recycling glutathione means your body takes existing glutathione the body has already used in self-defense and rebuilds it so it can work again to protect the body.
For glutathione to be recycled, it must be reduced:
There are two main forms of glutathione in the body:
- Reduced glutathione
- Oxidized glutathione
When there is sufficient reduced glutathione in the cells, they sacrifice themselves to free radicals to protect cellular mitochondria. An enzyme called glutathione peroxidase then sparks the conversion of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione, a free radical itself.
If there is sufficient glutathione in the cell, the newly unstable oxidized glutathione pairs with available glutathione with the help of an enzyme called glutathione reductase. This sends it back to reduced glutathione status and ready to return to service protecting cells.
Glutathione recycling helps balance immune function and shield thyroid tissue from inflammation and autoimmune attacks. Glutathione also helps repair damaged tissues, such as in the case of leaky gut.
Supplementing to increase glutathione levels — the RedRiver clinical research observations
Between all of our clinics, we see several hundred patients each day, which puts us at an unparalleled advantage when it comes to honing in on the best support for patients.
Below is an overview of what’s available to boost glutathione levels and what we have seen work the best for our patients.
Glutathione recycling is a good place to start to increase glutathione activity inside of cells. A variety of nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione recycling. They include:
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) quickly metabolizes into intracellular glutathione.
- L-glutamine helps generate glutathione.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) recycles and extends the life spans of vitamin C, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10, all of which are needed for glutathione recycling.
- Selenium is a cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which converts reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione, which protects cells.
- Milk thistle significantly increases glutathione and improves the ratios of reduced and oxidized glutathione.
- Gotu kola increases glutathione peroxidase and glutathione in general.
- Cordyceps supports glutathione synthesis activates the glutathione enzyme cycle.
Taken together these botanicals and compounds activate the glutathione peroxidase and reductase enzymes to promote a healthy glutathione recycling system.
I use a stand-alone product to support glutathione recycling containing all of these ingredients called Glutathione Recycler™ by Apex Energetics. This product was developed by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, who pioneered our modern understanding of Hashimoto’s and glutathione.
We have found this product works best when used in conjunction with a liposomal glutathione blend, which I discuss below.
We are very impressed with patients results from a liquid liposomal glutathione blend called Trizomal Glutathione™ by Apex Energetics, also formulated by Dr. Kharrazian.
Trizomal Glutathione™ provides both bioactive glutathione and the glutathione precursor N-acetyl-cysteine, meaning for comprehensive glutathione support.
Although dosages vary depending on the degree of inflammation, we generally start people at 10 ml three times a day to calm inflammation, autoimmune flares, and neurodegeneration symptoms (memory loss, brain fog, fatigue).
Then people can generally move to a maintenance dose of 5 ml three times a day, or whichever dose works best to keep their inflammation dampened.
In addition to Glutathione Recycler™, we also recommend ample vitamin D and two anti-inflammatory products calls Resvero Active™ and Turmero Active™, which are liposomal resveratrol and turmeric formulas respectively.
For people over 60, the need for glutathione increases significantly and we recommend daily maintenance doses of both Trizomal Glutathione™ and Glutathione Recycler™. It’s worth noting that glutathione has a profound protective effect on the brain and helping slow neurodegeneration, dampening brain inflammation, and lowering the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
We have seen outstanding results using Glutathione Recycler™ in combination with Trizomal Glutathione™, especially compared to other glutathione supplements on the market—and we have tried quite a few.
Additional methods of glutathione support
That said, here are some other ways to get glutathione.
First, taking straight glutathione orally is not that effective because it does not make it past the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Therefore, choose other forms of glutathione your body can absorb.
The following are absorbable forms of glutathione available:
S-acetyl glutathione is probably the most accessible form of glutathione and comes in capsules that the intestinal tract can efficiently absorb. It can be helpful in managing Hashimoto’s.
Liposomal cream is used in localized areas for inflammation, such as over the thyroid. I use Oxicell™ by Apex Energetics.
IV drips are effective but expensive and difficult to access. Other less traditional but effective routes of delivery you can use at home include glutathione suppositories, and glutathione nebulizers.
DIY glutathione—you can also make your own glutathione formula at home affordably, although I cannot attest to how effective it is. If you search “DIY glutathione” on the internet you may find some instructions.
Contact my office for advice on how you can support your glutathione levels to better manage your symptoms of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
About Dr. Redd
Josh Redd, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, is a chiropractic physician and author of the Amazon bestselling book The Truth About Low Thyroid. Dr. Redd owns seven functional medicine clinics in the western United States and sees patients from across the country and around the world who are suffering from challenging autoimmune, endocrine and neurological disorders. Dr. Redd also teaches thousands of health care practitioners about functional medicine and immunology, thyroid health, neurology, lab testing, and more.