HYDERABAD: The recent fad in the medical drug industry is glutathione, which is a substance produced naturally by the liver. It is also found in fruits, vegetables, and meat.
How does it work?
Glutathione is a low molecular weight thiol-tripeptide that plays a prominent role in maintaining intracellular redox balance. In addition to its remarkable antioxidant properties, the discovery of its antimelanogenic properties has led to its promotion as a skin-lightening agent.
Glutathione is involved in many processes in the body, including tissue building and repair, making chemicals and proteins needed in the body, and for the immune system.
Glutathione’s skin-lightening effects result from direct as well as indirect inhibition of the tyrosinase enzyme and switching from eumelanin to phaeomelanin production. It is available in oral, parenteral and topical forms.
Currently, there are three trials that support the skin-lightening effect and good safety profile of topical and oral glutathione.
Realising this growing trend of consumers wishing for a fairer skin, many pharmaceutical companies are developing different molecules for skin lightening. A lot is already known about topical de-pigmenting agents such as hydroquinone, glycolic acid, arbutin, kojic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E and niacinamide, all of which are readily available over-the-counter.
Oral and intravenous glutathione have been available in some countries such as Philippines for many years. This drug has recently made inroads in other countries, including India.
Although there is oral medication, the injection shots are considered and proven to be effective.
Natural dietary sources of glutathione:
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts are natural sources of glutathione. Tomatoes, avocados, oranges, walnuts and asparagus are some of the most common edibles that help to increase levels of glutathione in the body. Whey protein is another rich source of glutathione and has been used to enhance systemic glutathione levels in cystic fibrosis.
Pros of glutathione:
People take glutathione for treating cataracts and glaucoma, preventing aging, treating alcoholism, asthma, cancer, heart disease, hepatitis, liver disease, diseases that weaken the body’s defence system, memory loss, Alzheimers, osteoarthritis, and Parkinson’s disease. Glutathione is also used for maintaining the body’s defense system and in fighting metal and drug poisoning.
Healthcare providers give glutathione as a shot (by injection into the muscle) for preventing poisonous side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy) and for treating the inability to father a child (male infertility).
Healthcare providers also give glutathione intravenously (by injection into the vein, by IV) for preventing anemia in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment, preventing kidney problems after heart bypass surgery, treating parkinson’s disease, improving blood flow and decreasing clotting in individuals with hardening of the arteries, treating diabetes, and preventing toxic side effects of chemotherapy.
Does oral glutathione work?
Once the glutathione goes into the stomach, it becomes useless and doesn’t serve the purpose. Only when it is injected in the veins, it enters the blood and does its magic. Although there are a lot of studies, none could prove that oral glutathione is helpful.
The industry is fooling the people in the name of glutathione pills and creams. Infact, grape weed extract and vitamin C helps better in skin lightening than glutathione tablets.
The article is compiled by Dr Kannaiah Thallapally, consultant hair-transplant surgeon, cosmetodermotologist at Livyoung Anti-aging Clinic