Glutathione is an antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria and archaea.

Updated: August 5, 2019

Glutathione (GSH) is an antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria and archaea. Glutathione is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. While most antioxidants are found in the foods you eat, glutathione is produced naturally by the liver. It is primarily made up of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine and cysteine.
Glutathione level may decreases because of poor diet, chronic disease, infection and constant stress. It also decreases with age. Glutathione is involved in many processes in the body, including tissue building and repair, making chemicals and proteins needed in the body, and for the immune system.
Glutathione can be taken by mouth for treating cataracts and glaucoma, preventing aging, treating or preventing alcoholism, asthma, cancer, heart disease (atherosclerosis and high cholesterol), hepatitis, liver disease, diseases that weaken the body’s defense system (including AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome), memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, and Parkinson’s disease. Glutathione is also used for maintaining the body’s defense system (immune system) and fighting metal and drug poisoning.
Glutathione is breathed in (inhaled) for treating lung diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and lung disease in people with HIV disease.
Glutathione can be given as a shot (by injection into the muscle) for preventing poisonous side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy) and for treating the inability to father a child (male infertility).
Glutathione is also used intravenously (by injection into the vein, by IV) for preventing “tired blood” (anemia) in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment, preventing kidney problems after heart bypass surgery, treating Parkinson’s disease, improving blood flow and decreasing clotting in individuals with “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), treating diabetes, and preventing toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

Dietary Sources That can Increase Glutathione Levels:

Sulfur is important for producing glutathione. Therefore, you can add sulfur-rich proteins such as beef, fish and poultry, as well as allium and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, watercress and mustard your diet to increase the level of glutathione. Eating sulfur-rich vegetables may reduce oxidative stress by increasing glutathione levels.
Vitamin C may help increase glutathione levels by attacking free radicals first, thereby sparing glutathione. Vitamin C also helps reprocess glutathione by converting oxidized glutathione back to its active form. Strawberries, citrus fruits, papayas, kiwis and bell peppers are all examples of foods rich in vitamin C.
Selenium is a cofactor for the production of glutathione. Fish, organ meats, and Brazil nuts are all selenium-rich foods that may help increase your levels naturally.
Dietary glutathione is not fully absorbed by the body. However, including foods naturally high in glutathione, like avocados, spinach, and okra, may help decrease oxidative stress.
Whey protein is a good source of cysteine, which helps maintain adequate glutathione production. Therefore, whey protein may help increase your levels.

Uses & Effectiveness:

Possibly Effective for:


Reducing side effects of chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

Insufficient Evidence for:

Taken By Mouth:

  •     Cataracts.
  •     Glaucoma.
  •     Preventing aging.
  •     Treating or preventing alcoholism.
  •     Asthma.
  •     Cancer.
  •     Heart disease.
  •     High cholesterol levels.
  •     Liver problems.
  •     AIDS.
  •     Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  •     Memory loss.
  •     Alzheimer’s disease.
  •     Osteoarthritis.
  •     Parkinson's disease.
  •     Other conditions.


  •     Treating lung diseases.
  •     Other conditions.


  •     Treating Parkinson's disease.
  •     Diabetes.
  •     Anemia in people on hemodialysis.
  •     “Hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
  •     Infertility in men.

More evidence is needed to rate glutathione for the uses in other conditions.

Side Effects & Safety:

Glutathione is possibly safe for most adults when taken by mouth, by inhalation, or by injection into the muscle or into the veins. But the possible side effects are not known.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding:

Not enough is known about the use of glutathione during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


Do not inhale glutathione if you have asthma. It can increase some asthma symptoms.


Glutathione has no known severe interactions with other drugs. However, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or health care provider.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research and is recommended:


Chemotherapy Adjunct:

600 mg/day intramuscularly days 2-5 of chemotherapy
1.5 g/m2 intravenously before chemotherapy

Male Infertility:

600 mg intramuscularly every other day for two months

By Mouth:

250 mg orally once daily
Dose range: 50-600 mg/day


600 mg via nebulizer twice daily

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