It’s the ‘mother of all antioxidants’ that top wellness centres are adding to their IV menus and one doctor has described as worthy of ‘gold medal’ status on the supplements front. Move over vitamin B, glutathione is fast becoming the new go-to for those suffering from party season burnout and judging from its list of benefits, it’s easy to see why.
Its ability to protect the body against free radical damage is what sets it apart, nutritional therapist Daniel O’Shaughnessy tells me. In a nutshell, it aids removal of toxins and heavy metals via the liver to support its detoxification process, boosts immunity, and is also a valuable mood-booster thanks to its role in serotonin and dopamine production. It's naturally found in our cells, but as we get older, levels decrease. What's more, in order for the body to produce it, it needs certain foods like those rich in sulphur such as red meat, sunflower seeds, chicken, turkey, eggs, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, artichoke and onions. If you have a poor diet, chances are that you could be deficient and might feel fatigued as a result. “If you have low glutathione, then your mitochondria (cell batteries) don’t work well, so energy levels will dip,” says Daniel. Supplementation can help in this case, although he recommends getting a blood test to confirm that you’re lacking in it first.
In terms of what to look for in a supplement, Daniel recommends seeking out liposomal glutathione, a form that is more easily absorbable by the body because of its phospholipid makeup. Due to it being similar to the membranes of cells, it means its contents are able to get to where they need to get to more readily. He recommends checking out Cytoplan’s range. Our Editorial Director Victoria has been using its Liposomal Glutathione Complex , £46.10, for the last few months and hasn’t fallen ill in that time...maybe there’s something to it.
It's also now possible to get your fix of glutathione intravenously, so that it goes straight into your bloodstream rather than via the gut (where it can be broken down). There’s typically no downtime or recovery and it’s possible to book in for a course as well as one-off appointments to suit your individual needs. The decision to book in isn’t to be taken lightly. Leading health, wellbeing and lifestyle club Grace Belgravia tells us that they ask patients to fill out a full medical history form before having one of their glutathione injections and to see their GP in order to obtain a prescription. It isn’t cheap either, with a single session costing around the £70 mark and a course of three around £190.
Are they safe? Yes, provided that they’re done by a qualified person, says medical doctor, Dr Margaret Grabicka who administers infusions in her clinic. They aren’t for everyone though. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid them, as should those who have asthma as they can exacerbate symptoms.
In terms of what to look for in a specialist, Dr Grabicka recommends the following guidelines:
- The specialist should have a special training course, documented with a certificate and should have insurance for performing this treatment in the UK.
- The products used for injections should be from a trusted source (i.e. a pharmacy-distributor), and one that is approved in the UK and Europe. In her practice, Dr Grabicka uses Intravita products and protocols for IV infusions and injections, all of which are approved by the UK Ministry of Health.
Having an infusion that blends the antioxidant with vitamins works best in her experience when it comes to reigniting flagging energy levels - ones with glutathione, vitamin C and vitamin B in particular, can help recovery and detoxification of the body after alcohol intake, boost the immune system, increase energy levels and improve mental focus.
If you’re a needle-phobe though (*raises hand*), it’s good to know that it’s also possible to up your levels of this master antioxidant through food and supplements too.
Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach should never be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme.