Glutathione, Graves Disease, and Natural Treatment Methods

Published July 9 2012

Glutathione is a molecule that is manufactured in the body.  It is a combination of the amino acids glutatmine, glycine, and cystine.  Many people with Graves’ Disease have a deficiency in glutathione, which can affect the recovery of anyone who is trying to follow a natural treatment protocol.

But why is glutathione so important?  Glutathione has numerous functions in the body.  It is mostly manufactured in the liver, and plays a big role in detoxification.  So if someone has high levels of mercury, having sufficient levels of glutathione is important to help the liver detoxify the mercury, as well as other toxins.  For those who take antithyroid medication such as Methimazole or PTU, glutathione will also help with the detoxification process.

Glutathione is important in both Phase I and Phase II detoxification.  It forms a soluble compound with the toxin, and then is excreted.  Some of the minerals that are important for the synthesis of glutathione include selenium, iron, and magnesium.  So a deficiency in any of these three minerals can affect the production of glutathione, and thus affect the detoxification processes of the liver.

Besides playing an essential role in liver detoxification, sufficient glutathione levels are important for a healthy gut, and a healthy immune system.  Of course these two systems are closely related, as if one has gut problems then this will ultimately affect the health of the immune system.  Either way, hopefully you’re beginning to realize that a deficiency in glutathione isn’t a good thing for someone with an autoimmune condition such as Graves’ Disease.  With regards to immune system health, glutathione is important for proper T cell production, and it also is a free radical scavenger.

Why Are So Many People Deficient In Glutathione?

Chronic stress is a big reason why many people are deficient in glutathione.  And stress is a big factor when it comes to Graves’ Disease, as well as in other chronic conditions.  I’ve stated numerous times in other articles that I think stress was the main factor in the development of my condition.  And many people that I consult with tell me the same thing about the stress in their life and how they think it led to the development of their Graves’ Disease condition as well.  So while managing stress probably won’t help much to correct a glutathione deficiency, it is necessary to improve your stress handling skills to maintain the levels you have.  Plus of course chronic stress can also lead to problems with the adrenal glands, and other systems of the body.

Poor diet is another common reason why people are deficient in glutathione.  For example, selenium is one of the minerals that is necessary for the production of gluathione peroxidase, which is an enzyme that is necessary for the production of this molecule.  And most of the people who I consult with are deficient in selenium.  As a result, eating selenium-rich foods is important.  Some examples of foods which are high in selenium include Brazil nuts and sardines.  Many of my patients aren’t big fans of sardines, but most are willing to eat a few Brazil nuts each day.

While eating selenium-rich foods are great, doing this alone usually isn’t enough to correct a selenium deficiency.  As a result, supplementing with selenium is usually required.  I prefer whole food selenium supplements, as not only do they have selenium, but they also include vitamin E, which is important for the proper absorption of selenium, along with other cofactors that synthetic selenium supplements don’t provide.  However, taking synthetic selenium supplements will help to correct a deficiency, and so if you choose to take them, then usually a dosage of 200 to 400 mcg is necessary to correct a moderate to severe deficiency, although sometimes  a higher dosage is required.  I would be cautious about taking more than 800 mcg of selenium daily to avoid a toxicity, and also would advise getting tested before taking more than 200mcg per day.

Other Methods Of Increasing Glutathione Levels In The Body

Can someone take a glutathione supplement to correct a deficiency?  The problem with taking glutathione orally is that it doesn’t absorb well.  You can increase the levels of glutathione in the body through the use of a liposomal-based cream.  And some doctors administer glutathione through intravenously.  These methods can be beneficial, but they apparently don’t affect the intracellular levels of glutathione.  This is why consuming the precursors to glutathione is probably the best route, although sometimes it can be helpful to do both, as some people with Graves’ Disease would benefit from receiving glutathione through liposomal delivery or an IV, and at the same time take selenium and other precursors of glutathione.

A few other precursors to help increase the production of glutathione include N-acetyl-cysteine, Alpha Lipoic acid, and L-glutamine.  The herb milk thistle can also help to increase the levels of glutathione.  Some other foods that can help to increase the glutathione levels include onions, asparagus, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, kale, eggs, and meat.  Exercise can also help to increase the production of glutathione, although you want to make sure not to overexert yourself.

So hopefully you now have a better understanding as to the benefits of glutathione in people with Graves’ Disease.  Deficient levels of this molecule can affect the health of the liver, gut, and immune system, and not correcting this deficiency will make it difficult, if not impossible, to restore one’s health through a natural treatment protocol.  So make sure to eat some of the foods I listed in this article to help with glutathione production, and if you have a deficiency then you probably will also have to take selenium and perhaps some of the other precursors I mentioned.