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Free Radical Damage, Antioxidants & Glutathione

Research has shown that inflammation & oxidative stress is the root cause of over 260 diseases. Oxidation is a normal process that takes place in your body, such as when immune cells use free radicals to fight infections. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, occurs when the number of free radicals outnumber the number of antioxidants.

“Oxidation” is the chemical term that describes removing electrons from an atom. Your cells are made of molecules that contain electrons, and these electrons can be “stolen” by an unstable atom that needs another electron to be stable. When oxygen molecules split into single atoms that have unpaired electrons, they become unstable free radicals that seek other atoms or molecules to bond to.

When this happens in your body, it can lead to tissue damage. Think about an apple that you cut and leave out. It turns brown, starts to shrivel, and wrinkle, and gets mushy. That’s oxidation. Another example is rust—that’s metal oxidizing, getting holes and becoming weak and discolored.

As the body ages, it loses its ability to fight the effects of free radicals. The result is more free radicals, more oxidative stress, and more damage to cells, which leads to degenerative processes.

The main thing you can do is to increase your levels of antioxidants and decrease your formation of free radicals and oxidative stress.

Glutathione (GSH), is endogenously produced in the human body. As the most abundant antioxidant, it is a critical regulator of oxidative stress, preserving cellular integrity, and immune function. It is known as “The Mother of All Antioxidants” and “The Master of the Immune System”. One unique thing about glutathione is that the body can make it in the liver, which is not true of most antioxidants.

Glutathione has many important functions, including:

  • making DNA, the building blocks of proteins and cells
  • supporting immune function
  • forming sperm cells
  • breaking down some free radicals
  • helping certain enzymes function
  • regenerating Vitamins C and E
  • transporting mercury out of the brain
  • helping the liver and gallbladder deal with fats
  • assisting regular cell death (a process known as apoptosis)
  • Researchers have found links between low levels of glutathione and some diseases.

Research shows that active glutathione (GSH) primes white cells such as natural killer (NK) and T cells, your body’s front-line infection fighters. GSH-enhanced T cells are able to produce more infection-fighting substances, controlling both bacterial and viral infections. Endogenous glutathione controls when inflammation increases or decreases as needed, by instructing and influencing our immune white cells. This is a separate mechanism from its antioxidant properties. Rebalancing glutathione levels is important as it reduces chronic inflammation and restores immune function.COVID 19 Virus: The December 2021 Journal Antioxidants from Baylor College of Medicine, reports there is a severe glutathione deficiency, oxidative stress and oxidant damage in adults hospitalized with COVID-19. Dr. Rajagopal Sekhar, associate professor of medicine in the section of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Baylor stated, “We were surprised to see that the COVID-19 patients in the 21 to 40 and the 41 to 60 groups had much less glutathione and more oxidative stress than the corresponding age groups without COVID-19. We knew that healthy people without COVID-19 above the age of 60 years tend to be glutathione-deficient and have elevated oxidative stress. However, when the 60-plus age group gets COVID-19, their glutathione levels were much lower and oxidative stress was much higher than those of a similar age but without COVID-19.”

Chronic Kidney Disease: Numerous research studies suggest that oxidative stress is a major factor in deterioration of renal function and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Antioxidant defense mechanisms have been shown to be compromised in patients with renal dysfunction. The June 2021 issue of Kidney Research and Clinical Practice shows kidney diseases with cellular oxidative stress induces apoptosis and senescence, reduced regenerative capability of cells, and fibrosis in the kidney cells. “Oxidative stress leads to accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins, podocyte damage, mesangial expansion, renal hypertrophy, endothelial dysfunction, tubulointerstitial fibrosis, and glomerulosclerosis. Thus, oxidative stress further contributes to deterioration of renal function and disease progression.”

Eye Health: Published in 2019 Ophthalmology, by Myron Yanoff, MD, glutathione is found at high concentrations in the lens of the eye, especially in the epithelial layer and is beneficial in maintaining protein thiols in the reduced state. This helps to maintain lens transparency by preventing the formation of high molecular weight cystallin aggregates.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Research published in the February 2014 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) pathology is oxidative stress. AD-related increase in oxidative stress has been attributed to decreased levels of the brain antioxidant, glutathione. The researchers found there is a growing recognition of the involvement of GSH in etiopathogenesis of AD. GSH may well emerge as a linchpin in AD pathogenesis and open new avenues for AD diagnostics as well as targeted therapeutics.

Research published in the January 31st 2018 journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity revealed the reduction in GSH has been detected selectively in the brain regions affected by AD pathology, such as frontal cortex and hippocampus, but not in the cerebellum, and correlated with the extent of cognitive impairments, assessed with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and clinical dementia rate (CDR) scores. The study said “Interestingly, the magnitude of the changes in the glutathione redox cycle seems to correspond with the disease severity. The data suggested that oxidative stress is an early factor in AD pathogenesis that can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, cell signaling impairments, and increased production of amyloid β (Aβ) peptides.

The question is how to elevate endogenous glutathione levels in the body effectively. 

Taking glutathione as a supplement has unfortunately been proven to be not effective. One study gave healthy people 500 milligrams twice a day for a month, however due to the digestive process they were unable to raise the glutathione level in the blood.

In 1995, award-winning microbiologist Marika Mikelsaar, MD, PhD and her team of research scientists at the University of Tartu, Estonia isolated this distinctive probiotic strain. ME-3 is considered by scientists as a “complete glutathione system” due to its ability to produce glutathione in the human body via three different mechanisms. The unique strain ME-3 is proven to stimulate glutathione production naturally in the human body and works as a glutathione-activating agent via three different mechanisms.

RegActiv – ESSENTIAL ME-3 : Essential ME-3® (Essential Formulas) provides in one single capsule more than 8 billion micro-encapsulated bacteria. Essential ME-3® can be taken for a short treatment course as well as for long periods of time. Ingredients: maltodextrine, Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3®, magnesium salts of fatty acids (anti-caking agent). Vegetable capsule (hydroxypropylmethylcellulose).

Directions: Take 1 capsule daily, 30 minutes before a meal is best, however it can be taken with a meal as well, or as directed by a health care professional. For optimal effects, maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Consult your primary health care provider before using this product. For optimal digestive health, pair this product with Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® Original Formula.

For more information about Reg’Activ Essential ME-3 go to

As always it is best to treat any serious health problem through an appointment with your Holistic Practitioner.

To schedule an Appointment  (in office or via telephone) call the Tree of Life Wellness Center (508-336-4242).

Jane Jansen, Holistic Practitioner

Host of Holistic Healthline Radio