Glutathione, a wonder molecule to fight respiratory infections like COVID-19

Glutathione is so important to our lungs that in its natural state, the fluid that lines our lungs have 140 times more Glutathione than that circulating in our blood, writes Dr. Anish Desai, Director Strategic Medical Affairs, Adroit Biomed

About Author: Dr Anish Desai is the Director of Strategic Medical Affairs at Adroit Biomed. Dr Desai is a trained clinical pharmacologist and pharmaceutical physician with 3 decades of experience in academia, research, and healthcare industry. He has proven himself as a top-notch medical professional & thought leader through his work in leading Indian and multinational healthcare organizations like Johnson & Johnson India, Bayer Schering Pharma India, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and Unichem Laboratories.

While the world is grappling to combat the virus and each day there are new milestones achieved, none of them guarantee complete protection, and vaccination seems to be the only recourse at the moment. Having said that, scientists are still researching various preventive and curative methods to effectively fight this virus, which mutates to deadlier variants, with the passing of each day. Added to that, there is a constant fear of newer respiratory infections with the way the global landscape is changing. In a situation like this, if one can get a naturally occurring substance that can provide us with substantial ammunition for prevention, management and recovery from such infections, what you would call that – A wonder isn’t it!
The Master Anti-oxidant
Glutathione is our body’s own master anti-oxidant, without which no cells can survive. A tripepdite made of glutamate, cysteine and glycine, this antioxidant molecule is omni-present in most living organisms. Found in reduced (GSH) and oxidized (GSSG) states, Glutathione is in a prime position to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals, as we all know are detrimental to health as they tend to attack our DNA, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are present in our cells causing cell damage. Infections such as Covid-19 triggers inflammatory response in the body and increase the oxidative stress. With higher concentration of free-radicals, the resultant damage too can increase manifold.
In such a situation the body’s demand for anti-oxidant increases hugely, placing all the more importance on consuming antioxidant-rich food or immunity booster tablets. Glutathione is an ideal adjuvant nutraceutical supplement for prevention, management and recovery in COVID 19. Since Glutathione also recycles other antioxidants, couple that with Vitamin C and you have a fighter duo in hand!
An anti-inflammatory agent
A lesser-known property of Glutathione as an anti-inflammatory agent was not in focus until most recent times. Research published in international journals is evaluating the possible role of Glutathione in protecting against the severe inflammation in the lungs triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 infection. In fact, lung inflammation and damage (ARDS) are the main causes of fatality in COVID-19 infection. Several studies have reported that low levels of GSH in the body could trigger a hyper inflammation attack that can result in death or in recovered cases some permanent damage to the lungs. In the naturally existing, in-built state, Glutathione is abundantly found in the respiratory system.
Glutathione is so important to our lungs that in its natural state, the fluid that lines our lungs have 140 times more Glutathione than that circulating in our blood. Since our respiratory system (nose, mouth, throat, and lungs) is the first to respond to outside threats like increased oxygen presence, infections, and toxic environment, the presence of Glutathione in the respiratory system is vitally important. Based on research & studies, the addition of oral and administering of Glutathione injection could be a new treatment approach to block NF-κB and control the “cytokine storm syndrome” in patients with COVID-19-derived pneumonia.
 An immunity booster
Maintaining a strong immune system is the key to avoid most infections. Our in-built immune system has different kinds of immune cells that fight in a synchronized manner while locating & destroying pathogens (microbes like bacteria, virus, fungi, etc.). The Glutathione molecules help identify these pathogens and generate anti-bodies which gives us long-term protection. Our immune system relies on Glutathione for numerous functions. There are adequate research reports that indicate that adequate Glutathione levels are significant in maintaining a healthy balance of white blood cells. Immunological functions in diseases like COVID have shown a significant drop in cysteine which is one of the tripeptides that composes the Glutathione molecule. Various Glutathione replenishing molecules such as N-acetyl cysteine have already been used in COVID 19 management worldwide and it is proving to be efficacious in faster recovery time among patients.
A Possible Game Changer
Under normal circumstances, our body naturally synthesizes Glutathione molecules in cells. However, unavoidable factors of modern life such as exposure to environmental toxins, stress, and poor nutrition can alter this capacity to a large extent. The molecule has been used in dermatology through oral, topical, and intravenous routes for so many years. But not until today such staggering revelations have been made. Research reports, as recent as last year, have reflected that endogenous deficiency of Glutathione could be the most likely cause of serious manifestations and fatalities in COVID-19 patients.
Mounting evidence indicates that oxidative stress and severe inflammation resulting from an over-produce of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) contribute to an increase in the risk of severe afflictions in COVID-19 patients. An increased antioxidant defense (provided by Glutathione) therefore seems to be helpful in the prevention, management, and recovery of this COVID 19.

*The above views expressed by the author are his own.