Glutathione : Reverse Your Inflammation
I have had histamine intolerance (and specifically DAO deficiency) all my life. Until my 40s it was just inconvenient. Then it became chronic.
My auto-immune system became “hysterical.” I started having reactions to more and more foods, and then a banquet of environmental toxins, that glutathione plays a crucial role in detoxifying.
I was intolerant to vitamin c, and to quercetin, which acted as pro-oxidants (rather than as anti-oxidants), at even tiny levels in my toxic body. It turns out that glutathione is a master anti-oxidant that regulates these anti-oxidants.
I was also intolerant to all methylation donors. Methylation involves four interlocking, conversion processes; folate, methylation, B12, and glutathione that are important to detoxification.
According to Dr Ben Lynch, the glutathione cycle is the most important of these cycles. Until glutathione depletion is addressed all other methylation interventions are futile.
Also I had chronic acute inflammation markers which were “off the charts” including ceruloplasmin (which regulates copper), c-reactive protein, and metabolic markers. I put on 30 kilos in about 6 weeks in response to inflammation.
It turns out, a glutathione deficiency, was driving my chronic symptoms.
When we are very sick it is easy to think our body is turning on us. Actually when we get answers, it turns out that our body has been hard at work protecting us. Glutathione, like histamine, is part of our body’s protective system.
Glutathione is our natural body’s defence against unnatural toxic substances. It regulates our anti-oxidants (including vitamins a, c, and e), boosts our immune system, aids in detoxifying foreign invaders, and wraps a protective coating around our DNA cells.
Glutathione itself is produced by the body from glutamate, glycine and cysteine. Cysteine, however, is the most important, as it is the limiting factor, determining how fast our body produces glutathione.
Glutathione (or as a minimum cysteine) becomes depleted, when the amount of toxins it is called on to process, exceed the amount of glutathione that the body can produce. When it reaches this “tipping point” it is no longer able to perform its protective role.
My body had definitely exceeded its tipping point, but after a lot of stumbling, and a lot of expert medical advice, here are the steps that have restored my glutathione.
Step 1: Identify and Remove the Source of Oxidative Stress
There are many causes of oxidative stress. Any foreign “unnatural” invader can trigger oxidative stress. My source may not be yours.
To identify the cause, involves piecing the puzzle together, through a detailed history, to pinpoint the likely triggers.
My history pointed the trigger precisely to prescription drugs. A simple genetic test (through DNA-Dose) then confirmed it.
I will shortly write more about the link between histamine intolerance, prescription drugs, and mast cell activation, but at least in my case there is compelling scientific evidence, that my body was tipped into oxidative stress by prescription drugs linked to cytochrome P450 (specifically CYP2D6) genetic mutations.
So I had my answer, my glutathione stores became depleted, struggling to process prescription drugs, that it was not genetically designed to metabolise. Once depleted, it became unable to metabolise a wide range of artificial toxins, even in the tiniest amounts.
I had to remove not only the offending prescriptions drugs, but all chemicals and toxins from my environment, until my glutathione levels were restored.
Again, if your body is in oxidative stress, your primal source may be different to mine. Drugs, alcohol, chemicals, pathogens, and sugar are also heavy users of glutathione.
Step 2: Optimise Natural Glutathione
Before I start on what has worked for me, I want to make it clear, that reversing oxidative stress needs to be done with extreme care. Everyone has their own bio-individuality, it cannot be rushed, and it needs to be done under expert supervision.
My starting point was my diet. My immunologist bravely told me that I needed to get my medicine from whole-foods. So I set about personalising my diet.
Firstly, although your bio-individuality may be different, I gradually evolved to a “paleo” diet. I have written about how I did this here.
Secondly, I gradually modified that diet to a paleo version of the “wahls’ protocol.”
Simplistically, I added 2 – 3 cups of coloured vegetables, 2- 3 cups of sulfurous vegetables, and 2 – 3 cups of greens a day. That is I eat more vegetables than a vegetarian.
Studies clearly show that the anti-oxidants in whole-foods are bio-available, and that doubling fruit and vegetable intakes, results in significant increases in anti-oxidant scores. There is a good summary of the research here.
Whole-foods in their raw form also provide a rich source of nutrients for glutathione productions including:
|Glutathione||Asparagus, Spinach, Garlic, Avocado, Squash, Zucchini, Potatoes, Melons, Grapefruit, Peaches, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage|
|Cysteine||Eggs, Garlic, Raw Milk, Whey Protein, Colostrum|
|Other||Brazil Nuts, Meat, and Seadfood, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Ashwanghdha (Indian Gingseng), Nigella Satvia|
Finally, as I was insulin resistant, I balanced my carbohydrate and fat intake, to balance my blood sugar. I will shortly write more about this.
This may not be necessary for you, but glutathione appears to play a role in regulating metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is highly inflammatory and damaging to the mitochondria and addressing weight and glucose regulation is important.
Step 3: Boost Glutathione Levels
Diet is the backbone of my recovery plan, but even the most optimal diet, will only maintain glutathione stores. Reversal of oxidative stress requires supplementation. Here are some of the functional foods I used to boost my glutathione levels:
- Un-denatured whey protein isolate, studies show significant increases in glutathione levels. Just one single serve a day has been shown to dramatically boost glutathione. Whilst not part of the studies, colostrum at least on paper, would appear to also do so, as well as providing a range of additional micro-nutrients. There are many types of protein supplements, but the ones to look for are un-denatured, from grass-fed cows, and with no artificial additives.
- Broccoli sprouts are 5 – 6 days old and contain over 100 times more sulforaphane than a mature plant. They have been shown to dramatically boost glutathione.
- Turmeric, it seems there is little that it cannot do, and studies show that it also boosts glutathione. A good summary of the research to date (including glutathione) is here.
- Montmerency (sour) cherry juice, significantly increases melatonin levels. Two serves a day have been found to have a profound impact on melatonin levels which are an anti-oxidant that does not become pro-oxidant.
- Yoga, so it is not a food, but yoga (as gentle exercise) is highly effective at boosting glutathione levels.
Step 4: Concentrated Supplements
Once I had safely modified my diet, and boosted my glutathione with functional foods, I started even more concentrated supplementation.
Once again, this was done under the careful supervision, through graduated introduction. The supplements I used (in the order I introduced them) are:
- Liposomal glutathione which is a modified form of glutathione (which as the end product requires no conversion) that survives the digestive tract to get into the cells. I used one from Seeking Health which had clean ingredients, was potent (in contents and sulfurous odor!).
- Astaxanthin is a powerful anti-oxidant that (unlike other vitamins and flavonoids) is never a pro-antioxidant. Studies also show that it not only helps protect the mitocondrial membrane (in conjunction with omega rich oils), but promotes glutathione production. I used the Green Nutritionals supplement as it was clean (without vitamin C) and had balanced omegas to increase absorption.
- Lipsomal vitamin c is a modified form of vitamin c which survives the digestive tracts and gets into the cells. I am again using one from Seeking Health which is clean and potent. It is the only Vitamin C I tolerate. High doses of Vitamin C are also believed to be beneficial to histamine intolerance.
- Selenium, works synergistically with glutathione.
- Silymarin (milk thistle), is a potent anti-oxidant, that has been shown to protect the liver from toxic drugs, hormones, and industrial chemicals, increase glutathione in the liver, and regenerate damaged liver cells.
Melatonin and NAC (n-acetyl-l-cysteine) can also be supplemented, however, I prefer to obtain my melatonin from its whole-food source, and by-pass cysteine by supplementing with lipsomal glutathione.
Reversal of Inflammation
Boosting my glutathione levels has reversed my inflammation markers and my immune system appears to have been stood down. I am still highly intolerant to very high histamine foods (such as vinegar) but I am no longer highly reactive to a wide range of foods and environmental factors. I continue to use food as medicine, but I no longer need pharmaceutical medicine, and any histamine reactions are again merely inconvenient.
- 12/01/2015 • Drug Tolerance Testing and Why You Should Not Use Online Report Readers
- 07/21/2015 • A Bio-Individual List of Histamine Inhibitors
- 07/02/2015 • Glutathione: A List of the Most Potent Inhibiting and Inducing Anti-oxidant Foods and Bioactives
- 11/20/2014 • The Anti-depressant, Brain Fog, and Histamine Intolerance Connection