A compromised immune system can leave you more susceptible to illness and disease. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and properly supplementing with nutrients when needed are two of the top ways to ensure that your immune system is functioning properly.
Studies have shown that glutathione plays an extremely important role(1) in the immune system and its ability to fight off illnesses. Even small changes to glutathione levels have shown to have detrimental effects on immune function.
With the world on high alert and staying healthy on top of everyone’s minds, it’s easy to see why interest in glutathione supplementation has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Glutathione’s ability to reduce inflammation in the lungs has been of particular interest to many due to concerns about respiratory issues associated with COVID-19.
How Does Glutathione Protect The Immune System?
Glutathione plays a role in regulating the behavior of many cells throughout the body, including those that make up the immune system.
By providing direct antimicrobial effects, glutathione has been shown to be useful in protecting against bacterial infection(2) and enhancing the functional activity of a variety of immune cells. T cells (a type of white blood cell that is essential to immune function) and natural killer cells (a type of cell that plays an important role in host-rejection of virally infected cells) are two of the immunity-boosting cells that rely heavily on glutathione.
Decreased levels of glutathione have been observed in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, these findings have notably been linked to increased levels of inflammation in cytokines (small proteins that cells excrete that aid in cell communication). These inflammatory cytokines are known to advance the growth of bacteria. So keeping glutathione at an optimal level can help to reduce the presence of inflammatory cytokines and will in turn aid in mitigating inflammation levels.
Glutathione also is vital to the innate and adaptive immune processes. It aids in the production of T cells, improves cell function, and is the first part of the adaptive immune system. This system is comprised of specialized cells that remove pathogens and prevent their advanced growth.
Glutathione To Reduce Inflammation In Lungs
The antioxidative effects of glutathione have been shown to help combat oxidative stress on cells. Many studies have highlighted that depleted levels of glutathione have correlated with less favorable outcomes and a worsening of symptoms in various disease models(3). Patients with extreme glutathione deficiencies have shown a greatly increased risk for the development of bacterial infections. It’s theorized that glutathione plays a helper role in bacterial destruction through its role in reducing oxidative stress.
A variety of lung diseases have been linked to glutathione deficiencies. The most common lung illnesses that are associated with low glutathione levels are:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Acute lung injuries
- Foreign compound toxicity (smoke, drugs, environmental pollutants)
All of these lung conditions are of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increased risk of developing pneumonia and the mortality rate increases that have been connected to having underlying or preexisting lung conditions if COVID-19 is contracted.
The anti-inflammatory capabilities of glutathione have been shown in multiple studies to have a protective effect on the lungs in various models. Conversely depleted levels of glutathione have produced negative impacts on patient outcomes.
With glutathione being one of the most important regulators of oxidative stress, it’s a critical component in preventing oxidative stress-related illness and disease. Studies have shown that after just one week of taking liposomal glutathione, patients saw a roughly 28-40 percent increase in measured glutathione levels in blood and plasma(4).
There are a variety of methods to take glutathione supplements. Liposomes have proven to be a highly favorable delivery method for a variety of nutrients including glutathione. The other oral methods for taking glutathione are not as capable of delivering the full dose for maximum absorption levels.
Liposomes are cell-like encapsulations that serve as a delivery method for a variety of drugs and nutrients. The cell-like material that makes up a liposome is made of the same materials that make up cell walls. Because of the similarities to the body’s own cells, uptake into the bloodstream is accomplished more easily due to the body not recognizing the liposome as a foreign agent to be eliminated.
In addition to being comprised of the same materials as a cell, the liposomes also serve as a protective barrier for the medicines that are encapsulated inside of them. The barrier that liposomes forms around medicines and supplements aid in protecting the drugs from the harsh stomach acids and other GI tract related processes that break down food for digestion.
The acids and processes that digest food, also destroy a portion of supplements and medicines that we ingest before they reach the small intestine for full absorption. By having a protective layer around the supplements, more medicine is able to ultimately be absorbed into the bloodstream.
While taking any level of glutathione can aid in maintaining immune system health, to get the most out of your nutrient intake, liposomes are becoming the clear choice for delivering the highest recommended dose of this powerful immune-boosting antioxidant.