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Glutathione, often referred to as the body’s master antioxidant, plays a central role in maintaining cellular health and protecting against oxidative stress. Found in almost all cells in the human body, this essential compound has a variety of functions ranging from detoxifying harmful substances to boosting the immune system. This comprehensive guide highlights its discovery, forms of intake and dosages, diseases it can treat, supporting studies, complementary supplements and medicinal plants, rich food sources, and potential risks and side effects.

Discovery of glutathione

The discovery of glutathione dates back to 1888, when the French biologist J. de Rey-Pailhade discovered a substance called “philothion” (later identified as glutathione) in animal tissue. However, it was not until 1921 that researchers Frederick Gowland Hopkins and Meister elucidated the exact chemical structure and recognized its importance for the cell.

Dosage forms and dosage

Glutathione can be taken in various forms, such as oral supplementation, intravenous injection, nasal spray and topical cream. The most effective form of administration depends on individual health goals and conditions.

  • Oral supplements are the most readily available, but their bioavailability varies.
  • Intravenous injections offer the most direct absorption, but are more invasive and generally more expensive.
  • Nasal sprays and topical creams are used for specific local applications.

The dosage varies depending on the dosage form and individual needs. The recommended dose for oral supplements is often between 250 and 500 mg per day, while intravenous therapies are medically supervised and individualized.

Treatable diseases

Glutathione has the potential to treat or alleviate the symptoms of a variety of diseases, including

  • Chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to many diseases.
  • Liver disease by supporting detoxification.
  • Immune disorders by strengthening the immune system.

Scientific studies

Numerous studies confirm the many health benefits of glutathione. A study in the “Journal of Clinical Epidemiology”, for example, showed that it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, while research in the “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine” highlighted its positive effect on chronic respiratory diseases.

Complementary food supplements and medicinal plants

Food supplements and medicinal plants can be used to support the effect of glutathione:

  • Vitamin C and E, which support regeneration in the body.
  • Selenium, an essential mineral that is necessary for enzymatic function.
  • Milk thistle and turmeric, medicinal plants that promote liver health and thus glutathione production.

Food sources of glutathione

Some foods are particularly rich in glutathione or its precursors and are therefore a valuable addition to a health-conscious diet:

  • Avocados, spinach and okra are plant sources with a high glutathione content.
  • Raw milk and raw egg whites also contain significant amounts.
  • Meat and fish are good sources of the amino acids required for synthesis.

Eating these foods can support the body’s own production and thus contribute to maintaining good health.

Possible risks and side effects

Although glutathione offers many health benefits, there are also potential risks and side effects, especially if used improperly:

  • Allergic reactions may occur in some individuals, especially when administered intravenously.
  • Gastrointestinal complaints are possible when taken orally.
  • An overdose can lead to an imbalance in the antioxidant system, so an informed dosage is important.

It is advisable to discuss the use of glutathione or glutathione supplements with a healthcare professional, especially if you have existing health problems or are taking other medications.

Glutathione in natural medicine

In naturopathy, glutathione is not only valued as a dietary supplement, but is also used in the form of supportive therapies to detoxify and strengthen the immune system. Traditional healers use it, for example, to improve liver function, support the body’s natural detoxification capacity and prevent chronic diseases.


Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant with wide-ranging health benefits, from helping to prevent chronic disease to improving overall well-being. Due to its multiple routes of administration and the ability to support the body’s own production through certain foods and supplements, it offers a flexible and effective way to promote health. However, as with all dietary supplements, it is important to use it wisely, taking into account possible risks and side effects. This puts it at the forefront of natural substances that play a key role in modern health care and therapy.

Published on: 27. March 2024


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