Inflammation is the body’s immune response to injury or infection. It is an important component of innate immunity. Inflammation can be diagnosed as acute or chronic. Acute inflammation serves to protect and heal the body following physical injury and infection from disease causing bacteria, viruses and parasites and is a lifesaver. Most times the physical injury heals or the invading entity is destroyed, inflammation subsides and healing begins. The destruction of bacteria, viruses and parasites is accomplished via free radicals. Chronic inflammation results if excess free radicals remain after the healing process is complete , which signals that the immune system has not fully shut down its response to injury or infection. Chronic inflammation can last indefinitely and can result in numerous medical conditions.
Over many decades of extensive research, glutathione has been found to be crucial in regulating inflammation [1-4]. It does so very effectively by destroying free radicals, produced by our immune system in response to threats. In turn, this protects us from the insidious and often destructive effects of oxidative stress. But how is oxidative stress related to the immune system?
The core mediators of the immune system, the lymphocytes, perform their bacterial, viral and cancer cell killing function by generating large amounts of free radicals, including superoxide and hydrogen peroxide. These species are highly toxic, not only to the invaders, but also to our cells and tissues. They effectively destroy foreign intruders by inducing large amounts of oxidative stress, but, if not kept in check, they can easily turn on their host. Consequently, precise control of free radical production and elimination is needed [5, 6]. This is the reason why maintaining a healthy glutathione level is so essential.
When we are healthy, our cells have suffcient glutathione to efficiently neutralizes any overproduction of free radicals. However, as we age and in many medical conditions, the pace of free radical generation can often surpass the cellular production of glutathione, leading to a cascade of oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and tissue damage. Combined with advancing age, poor lifestyle choices or environmental stressors, all of which reduce glutathione even further, poor health outcomes are likely. Even a temporary drop in optimal glutathione levels, as has been observed after extensive exercise for instance, may cause harm due to oxidative stress.
As the first line of defence against oxidative stress, antioxidants are crucial. Glutathione produced in our cells is the most potent antioxidant, and therefore essential in not only keeping the immune system running optimally but also in ensuring the elimination of excessive free radicals [7, 8]. However, the optimal level of glutathione is easily compromised.
To date, no effective supplement for increasing cellular glutathione has existed. There are plenty of products on the market such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC) or glutathione itself which do not work or, at best, only marginally so. A new ingredient has recently emerged, however, that will change this. Many years in the development, the precursor to glutathione, Glyteine, has, in a recent human clinical trial, been shown to be the only way to increase glutathione above homeostasis, and it does so safely and rapidly .