Glutathione. A treatment for Coronavirus?
On March 22nd, a 48-year old Brooklyn woman Josephine Bruzzese woke up with a fever, body aches, dry cough and trouble breathing. She had lost her ability to smell and taste. Her family rushed her to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn in Sunset Park. At the time there were no coronavirus tests available and the hospital sent her home as a suspected case of Covid-19 with an antibiotic azithromycin, and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine both of which helped, but she still had difficulty breathing. Luckily, her son James who was in his second year of a 7-year program to get a medical degree thought to call a well-known complementary physician Dr. Richard Horowitz who had treated his sister and asked him for advice. The advice was for his mother to take a large dose of 2000 milligrams of glutathione. Josephine said that within an hour she felt relief and after five days of this treatment she was better. Dr. Horowitz has written up this case and another similar case with a man in his 50’s in the journal “Respiratory Medicine Case Reports”. This story was reported in the New York Post on May 9th, 2020.
In response to an infection, our bodies produce inflammatory cytokines that could potentially escalate and overwhelm us and even kill us if not for the antioxidant capabilities of quenching this reaction. Probably the most important antidote for this is glutathione. Made up of three amino acids, (cysteine, glycine and glutamine) our bodies assemble these three amino acids into glutathione which can increase natural killer cells and T cells to fight infections and form this master antioxidant to act as a shield to protect vital tissues from inflammatory cytokines. When glutathione (GSH) takes a hit from a cytokine, it becomes oxidized and turned into (GSSG) and like a used Kleenex and it gets discarded or recycled into back into another glutathione molecule (GSH). If you don’t have enough glutathione reserves or don’t have the ability to recycle glutathione, your defenses are weakened, and you risk serious health consequences from what is called the “cytokine storm” which is an overreaction by the immune system and the associated cause of death from covid-19. An important factor in recycling glutathione is a mineral selenium. The ratio of GSH/GSSG should be more than 100 however under oxidative stress such as an infection, that number could drop to under 10. In addition to uncontrolled inflammation, this could result in fatigue, lack of mental focus, brain fog, muscle fatigue, various aches and pains, impaired detoxification, COPD, ringing in the ears, and cardiovascular stress. These symptoms are associated with mitochondrial insults within our cells along with many chronic health conditions, and many autoimmune diseases. In a study that had 643 cardiac patients who underwent coronary angiography in Germany, those who died of heart attacks had much lower levels of glutathione than those who survived. Could this be why some coronavirus patients are dying from heart attacks?
Epithelial lining fluid
Lung tissue is known to have a greater need for glutathione. In asthma patients it has been shown that the lower the glutathione levels were, the more severe the asthma symptoms were and the less resistance there was to viral infections. Whether it is asthma, influenza A, COPD, H1N1, or coronavirus, if your lungs are infected or under stress, you want to ideally short circuit the cytokine storm before it causes tissue damage.
Research has shown that acetaminophen lowers glutathione levels. If you take acetaminophen regularly, there is a good chance that you are deficient in glutathione and run the risk of suffering the consequences of a compromised response to an infection and the anti-inflammatory response needed from coronavirus.
Delivery of Glutathione
Glutathione can be taken in a capsule form. Usually, it will say it is a reduced form of glutathione which is the opposite of an oxidized form of glutathione. This is a good thing. However, there are some who feel that our stomach acids probably break apart those three amino acids leaving it up to our body to reassemble them back into glutathione. To address this concern, some companies make liposomal glutathione where the three amino acids are wrapped in a layer of fat so that the glutathione can be absorbed sublingually bypassing the hazards of the acids of our stomach. Another way to deliver glutathione is by nebulizing it directly into our lungs. For someone with any kind of a lung issue, this is the preferred delivery method. Glutathione can also be delivered intravenously. According to the Cochrane database October 2019 both oral and inhaled glutathione improved lung function measured by spirometry testing and increased utilization of oxygen. These studies have also been done with cystic fibrosis patients and glutathione was well tolerated by all patients while being evaluated over 9 months. Glutathione can also be taken by suppository where it can be absorbed bypassing the gastric acids and get directly into your blood stream by way of the portal veins that drain the large intestine. Additionally, the precursor amino acids can be taken separately to help produce glutathione. Perhaps the most important of the three is cysteine, and the form it is most easily absorbed in is N acetylcysteine, otherwise known as N.A.C.
How much to take?
Most companies selling glutathione recommend about 450 mg per day for the average patient. Some sources estimate that in an acute situation we should replace half of what we would synthesize in a day. For a 150 lb. male that would be in the area of 10 grams a day. Therefore, he would need 5 grams as a replacement, more than 10x the dose that most would take daily. Dosages would need to be adjusted by weight.
During this pandemic, when the mass media primarily discusses prescription drugs and the hope for a vaccine as the only solution, remember that there are options. I have a nebulizer here in the office along with liquid glutathione. I have two different companies with liposomal glutathione and glutathione suppositories. The research is overwhelmingly supportive of glutathione as a method of binding up toxins for people with chemical toxicity and helping cognitive problems and lung problems by reducing an inflammatory cytokine cascade. In addition, I have N.A.C. which is a major precursor to making glutathione and selenium that can be taken to help your body recycle glutathione. As we begin to unwind our society from a state of lockdown and if you wish to protect yourself by adding glutathione as part of your strategy to strengthen your immune system from coronavirus please let me know and I will gladly discuss it with you. In the meantime, eating a diet with foods higher in sulfur such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, kale, collard greens, arugula, cabbage, walnuts, almonds, spinach, watercress, tomatoes, and cucumbers will help. Foods high in selenium are brazil nuts, eggs, mushrooms, whole grains, seafood, and organ meats.