Glutathione

BCCT plans to write a summary on glutathione. While our summary is in development, you can visit Lone Star Medical Group: Glutathione

Glutathione is a protein made within our bodies from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. It is found in some foods, particularly concentrated in these:

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Glutathione can be enhanced in the body by increasing the supply directly, such as through intravenous (IV) or nebulized treatments. However, Neil McKinney, ND, states that oral glutathione "does not perform well" as a supplement. For oral intake, increasing the supply of building blocks—oral precursors such as alpha lipoic acid, selenium and n-acetyl cysteine—allows your body to produce more glutathione. Taking precursors orally may be a more effective way to raise glutathione levels in the body than taking oral glutathione supplements.1

Clinical Practice Guidelines

The 2017 Society for Integrative Oncology clinical practice guidelines found insufficient evidence to recommend glutathione for reducing toxicity from radiation therapy for breast cancer.2

Managing Side Effects and Promoting Wellness

Managing or relieving side effects or symptoms, reducing treatment toxicity, supporting quality of life or promoting general well-being

Glutathione is promoted for use during radiation therapy.

Cautions

According to the Lonestar Medical Group summary on glutathione, no side effects or toxicities are known for glutathione, but some people may have a sensitivity. They therefore suggest consulting with a healthcare professional prior to taking glutathione.

Naturopathic physicians Lise Alschuler and Neil McKinney add these cautions:3

  • The quality of supplements varies considerably.
  • Though it may increase the effectiveness of some cancer treatments and protect against certain treatment toxicities, glutathione is a powerful anti-oxidant and may interfere with active cancer therapies which depend on a pro-oxidant and glutathione-depleting effect. 
  • The glutathione precursor n-acetylcysteine can interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs.
  • People with cancer should consult an integrative cancer clinician before using glutathione.

Dosing

BCCT does not recommend therapies or doses, but only provides information for patients and providers to consider as part of a complete treatment plan. Patients should discuss therapies with their physicians, as contraindications, interactions and side effects must be evaluated.

Dosage recommendations are available from these sources:

Integrative Plans, Protocols and Medical Systems

For more information about plans and protocols, see our Integrative Plans and Protocols page.
  • Plans, protocols and programs
    • Alschuler & Gazella complementary approaches: healthy detoxification support4
    • Lemole, Mehta & McKee protocol: whole foods eating plan for reducing cancer risk and risk of recurrence5
    • McKinney protocols6
      • Detoxification and recovery from cancer treatment
      • Antiviral therapy (for oncoviruses)
      • Liver/gallbladder cancer: IV or oral precursors as described above
      • Pleural effusion (fluid on the lungs): nebulized
      • Ovarian cancer to reduced cisplatin neurotoxicity
      • Improve response to chemotherapy: IV or oral precursors as described above
      • Relieve ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen): IV or nebulized

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