Glutathione-A Key Anti-Inflammatory!
Interview with Dr. Don Colbert
Interviewed by Scott Peters
Scott Peters: Doctor, let’s start with the glutathione. Can you talk about what that is and why it’s so important? We hear a lot about that.
Dr. Don Colbert: Glutathione is the master antioxidant, the master detoxifier in the body. It was actually discovered in 1888, over a hundred years ago, but the detoxification capabilities of glutathione were not discovered until 1970s. It is amazing how glutathione is the most important antioxidant inside the cells and most people have never heard of it. In fact, most doctors have never heard of it. Glutathione is the reason that the Mucomyst that we give in the ER for Tylenol poisoning- you know, if a person overdoses on Tylenol, they can go into acute liver failure where the liver literally starts to breakdown and goes into acute hepatic necrosis, literally these people die, and that’s why they give the antidote of high doses of N-acetylcysteine, which is simply a glutathione precursor. And so they discovered this back a few decades ago, and this has saved so many people from acetaminophen overdoses.
The benefit of glutathione, we find one of the major benefits is an anti-inflammatory benefit, and realize most of our chronic diseases we see today like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ninety percent of cardiovascular diseases, almost all cancers, type II diabetes, obesity, all autoimmune diseases with psoriasis as well as thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, they’re all associated with inflammation. We have a master antioxidant that can literally recycle almost every other antioxidant including itself. It literally detoxifies most heavy metals, which is free radical reactions, and turns down inflammation significantly. In fact, the root cause of most inflammation, the main inflammatory switch is nuclear factor kappa beta. This is the main inflammatory switch in the body that literally starts a cascade of inflammation, and once it turns on it’s very difficult to turn off, but glutathione and certain other nutrients are able to flip off that master inflammatory switch of nuclear factor kappa beta.
SP: Is glutathione something we can get through diet? Can we get enough through diet, and what sort of foods?
DC: Good question. First of all, realize that after age 20 to 21, our glutathione levels start to diminish. The good news is our body makes its own glutathione; the bad news is that aging, drugs, toxicity, lack of sleep, stress, all of these deplete our glutathione levels. As far as what can help raise them, anything raw, but essential raw eggs, raw milk, raw meat, things I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do, but also we call them the cysteine precursors like broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions, asparagus, and avocadoes help, but they don’t do it significantly. There are other things that do it, such as swimming in ice cold water. There’s an interesting study, the Berlin Winter Swim Club would have to swim in ice cold water five to ten minutes a week throughout the winter, and it showed that increased glutathione levels 20 to 25 percent, and a cold shower daily would do a similar thing. I’m not sure exactly how that works, but it does, but most people won’t do it.
SP: Nobody wants to do that, yeah.
DC: There are other things that do it like undenatured whey protein can boost glutathione 35 percent as well as alpha lipoic acid can do it around 30, 35 percent as well as milk thistle can also raise glutathione 30 to 50 percent. SAMe is an amino acid, and it can raise about 50 percent. It’s very expensive, and that’s still cysteine, what I alluded to before, which we use to treat Tylenol or acetaminophen overdose, can boost it as much as 85 percent, but you have to take a tremendous amount of it. A friend of mine developed a compound. Dr. Herb Nagasawa is a world-renowned glutathione researcher and has been researching glutathione over 25 years, and he started this back with the VA when a lot of our kids were coming home from the Vietnam War as alcoholics and developing cirrhosis, and what they said is let’s try and find a medicine that can prevent cirrhosis. In his lab he finally developed a molecule called RiboCeine where he combined d-ribose with l-cysteine and found a way that was 300 percent more effective than the standard of N-acetylcysteine in boosting glutathione levels. We find that glutathione is the master detoxifier and master antioxidant, and so with his research we’ve been able to really help boost the glutathione levels, and in turn help with detoxification, help immensely with diminishing inflammation.
One of the most amazing things is a centenarian study that was done. This study actually measured the glutathione levels in young people 25 to 35 and middle aged people. Now the middle aged people they said 55 to 65; I was thinking that’s kind of strange, middle aged 55 to 65, unless you live to be 120. The third group was centenarians. It found these people that lived to be over 100 had the glutathione levels inside their red blood cells and white blood cells closest to the 25 to 35 year old. In other words, we’re finding now that optimizing our glutathione levels is very important if we want to live to be over 100.