Glutathione and the flu
Glutathione as an anti-oxidant
Scientists have long known that glutathione is one of the great anti-oxidants, helping to reduce the risk of cancer in many people.
Getting it into the body in an effective way has always been an issue. Though glutathione is available in most nutrition stores as a tablet or capsule that needs to be swallowed, it is also known that the vast majority of glutathione is destroyed in the digestive process.
Though there is speculation about how much actually gets into the body, few experts believe that enough glutathione remains to be effective.
Efficient introduction of glutathione
Two viable means remain to get glutathione into the blood stream and avoid the digestive system. The jury remains out on which is the most effective, but sublingual/oral absorption and intravenous methods both manage to get the job done to some degree.
Intravenous introduction generally means going into a doctor's office and going through the somewhat time consuming procedure. This is probably the most effective means but hardly the most convenient or cheapest.
Sublingual glutathione lozenges are also available and are generally cheaper and certainly less time consuming. The lozenge is placed under the tongue and the glutathione enters the body through the lining in the mouth. Similarly, oral sprays could be quite effective as long as the user can manage to not swallow for a period of time.
We are not aware of any scientific data that accurately determines how much glutathione is absorbed by the body through oral absorption and will certainly depend on the individual, the construction of the lozenge/spray and how the person actually does it could make tremendous differences.
Glutathione and the flu
Health researchers have begun to speculate that glutathione will also work in helping to prevent colds and flu.
It is known that the flu virus is not immediately activated when released into the body. The flu virus is normally released from infected cells as an inactive particle.
To infect another cell, it must be activated by having one of its proteins cleaved (split into two pieces) by a protease enzyme. Proteases, along with proteins that normally inhibit their activation, are present in the fluid that lines the epithelial cells (the cells that line the mouth, upper airways and intestine).
Emory University scientists discovered that one of the enzymes that uses glutathione to detoxify cancer-causing chemicals and oxidants is deposited in the mucous layer lining the mouth and nose, thus providing an extra-cellular barrier to toxic chemicals.
Scientists have also found through studies in mice that viral infections result in oxidative responses that inactivate natural protease inhibitors, thus enhancing viral activation. They also have found that activation of the virus particles could be controlled by oxidation reduction reactions, in other words, taking anti-oxidants like glutathione.
There remains much testing to be done on this method of flu prevention and seniors should not consider this to be an alternative to taking the flu vaccine. Over 36,000 people die in the U.S. every year from the flu, most of whom are seniors.
Getting the flu vaccine is by far the most proven method of reducing your chances of getting the flu but taking glutathione in recommended doses and under the direction of your physician is a great little add on that can't hurt. As long as it is taken as directed, the worst case scenario is that you get a little protection from cancer.