Repair The Myelin Sheath: Manage Autoimmune Disease With Glutathione

December 31, 2021

Repair The Myelin Sheath: Manage Autoimmune Disease With Glutathione

In this article:

  • What is glutathione?
  • The importance of glutathione for managing autoimmune disease
  • What is the myelin sheath and how does glutathione protect it
  • Could you benefit from a glutathione supplement?

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant present in every cell of the body. The two forms of glutathione are reduced glutathione (GSH or L-glutathione) and oxidized (GSSG). GSH is the active form that helps combat oxidative stress.

GSH protects cellular mitochondria by clearing environmental toxins and binding to heavy metals as a natural chelator. It also plays an important role in detoxification, building a strong and healthy immune system, enzyme function, and other health benefits.

Some of the major functions of glutathione include:

  • Nutrient metabolism
  • Antioxidant defense
  • Regulation of cellular metabolic functions
  • Protein synthesis that signals transduction, cell proliferation, and apoptosis (cell death)

You can read more about how glutathione benefits the body in this Ingredient Spotlight post.

Glutathione is a tripeptide (a group of three amino acids joined by peptide bonds) and includes the amino acids glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. Glutathione also contains sulfur chemical groups, which help bond free radicals and heavy metals and remove them.

Under ideal circumstances, the body would recycle the components needed for glutathione synthesis. Unfortunately, there may be insufficient levels of glutathione available because of:

  • inflammatory response
  • alcohol consumption
  • intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • autoimmune disease
  • aging
  • high exposure to toxins

In these cases, supplements can support the glutathione recycling process and ensure the body has adequate glutathione levels available.

The Importance of Glutathione in Autoimmune Diseases

In autoimmune diseases, an overactive immune response can damage the body's own tissues and deplete its resources, limiting its ability to fight off pathogens and infections.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include

  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis (hypothyroidism)
  • Lupus
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Chronic inflammation exists in most autoimmune disorders, which can damage the body in various ways. One issue with chronic inflammation is that it produces unstable, reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are free radicals, which the body can absorb from food, water, medicine and air.

Free radicals are unstable because they have unpaired electrons. As free radicals look for electrons to pair with, they can damage mitochondria, DNA, RNA, and proteins, which leads to oxidative stress.

Endogenous GSH is a free radical scavenger and helps regulate the body's immune response. As an antioxidant, glutathione bonds with free radicals, thereby stabilizing them and preventing further damage.

Chronic inflammation can deplete glutathione levels, impacting overall immune function. Glutathione deficiency can lead to numerous health problems and worsen oxidative damage, perpetuating the cycle of chronic inflammation.

What Is the Myelin Sheath and How Does Glutathione Protect It

The myelin sheath is the lipid-rich coating around the axons of nerve cells. Myelin provides a protective cover and increases the electrical impulse rate along the axon. The insulating role of the myelin sheath is essential for

  • motor function and movement
  • sensory function
  • cognition

Demyelination is the loss or deterioration of the myelin sheath and occurs in neurogenerative autoimmune diseases like Guillain-Barre and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Previous research has shown that patients with MS have an altered GSH homeostasis. New research is exploring ways to combat oxidative stress and prevent neurodegenerative processes associated with MS by raising glutathione concentrations.

Other natural ways to support remyelination* include:

  • Exercise: moderate exercise and weight training with free weights, exercise bands, and machines can improve overall function and may help some patients with brain function.
  • Diet: a healthy diet of whole, plant-based foods can lower inflammation, while fried, processed, and high-sugar foods can increase inflammation. A healthy gut biome can also impact nerve health and myelination, so eating probiotics and fermented foods for better gut health could help MS patients.
  • Sleep: sleep deprivation is a major stressor. Adequate sleep, at least 7-9 hours a night, is also an opportunity for the body to repair itself.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: omega-3s are essential fats, so must be consumed through foods or supplements. A systematic review showed that omega-3 fatty acids and supplements improve inflammatory markers and quality of life for MS patients.
  • Glutathione: consume foods that boost glutathione production. This includes sulfur-rich foods like cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and onions; vitamin C; and selenium-rich foods like meat, fish, and Brazil nuts.

MS and other autoimmune disorders are very serious health conditions with many side effects, so be sure to get approval from your personal healthcare team before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle, and supplementation practices.

Could You Benefit From a Glutathione Supplement?

There's no doubt that glutathione is an incredible antioxidant with multiple health benefits. If you're suffering from autoimmune disease, chronic stress, chronic inflammation, or for some reason have low glutathione, the additional boost provided by a supplement could help improve your symptoms and quality of life.*

Remember the benefits of liposomal supplements, like Amandean's Liposomal Glutathione and Liposomal Vitamin C, are significant. Liposomal encapsulation produces supplements that have greater bioavailability, better absorption, and won't irritate the gut.

-Stephanie Hodges, MS in Nutrition and Exercise Science

Summary Points

  • Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant present in every cell of the body
  • Endogenous GSH is a free radical scavenger and helps regulate the body's immune response
  • Chronic inflammation can deplete glutathione levels, impacting overall immune function
  • The myelin sheath is the lipid-rich coating around the axons of nerve cells
  • Omega-3s are essential fats, so must be consumed through foods or supplements
  • If you're suffering from autoimmune disease, chronic stress, chronic inflammation, or have low glutathione levels, the additional boost provided by a daily supplement could help improve your symptoms and quality of life

Article References:

  1. Myelin. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002261.htm
  2. Glutathione: new roles in redox signaling for an old antioxidant. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2014.00196/full
  3. Sulphur-containing Amino Acids: Protective Role Against Free Radicals and Heavy Metals. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28595554/
  4. Glutathione: A Key Player in Autoimmunity. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1568997209000561?via%3Dihub
  5. Glutathione Fine-Tunes the Innate Immune Response toward Antiviral Pathways in a Macrophage Cell Line Independently of Its Antioxidant Properties. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01239/full
  6. Myelin: Demyelination. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myelin#Demyelination
  7. Glutathione in multiple sclerosis: More than just an antioxidant? From https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1352458514533400 
  8. For people with MS, can exercise change the brain https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/for-people-with-ms-can-exercise-change-the-brain-2017083112304
  9. Gut bacteria regulate nerve fibre insulation. https://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2016/apr/05/gut-bacteria-brain-myelin
  10. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplementation on multiple sclerosis: a systematic review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31462182/




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