Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Whitening and the Other Wonders of Glutathione

Sandy*, a working mom, has been taking glutathione oral food supplements on a daily basis. She swears by her brand's effectiveness, claiming that her skin has been fairer with only four to five months of use.

Sandy also has other reasons for taking glutathione. She knows that it plays a good role in keeping her liver and other organs healthy.

For most Filipino women, however, glutathione is a popular food supplement because of its whitening side effects. This is evident in all the TVCs, billboards and Internet ads placed by online sellers in eBay, Sulit.com and Multiply. Apparently, many have yet to know the other, more important benefits of using glutathione, as well as the precautionary measures that they have to make in taking the food supplement.

Womens' frequently asked questions on glutathione are answered on this blog in a concise and easy-to-read manner. Thanks to various sources online.

1. What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a protein that is produced in the human body. It is also found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables and meats. (Uretsky, Healthline)

2. What are the benefits of taking glutathione?

As an antioxidant, glutathione protects the cells of the body from getting damaged by free radicals. It also helps boost the immune system.

The possibility of using glutathione to treat cancer and heart diseases is still being studied. Meanwhile, Healthline cites the following reported uses of glutathione:

  • treatment of poisoning, particularly heavy metal poisons
  • treatment of idiopathic pulmonary firbosis
  • increasing the effectiveness and reducing the toxicity of cis-platinum, a chemo drug used to treat breast cancer
  • treating Parkinson's disease
  • lowering blood pressure in patients with diabetes
  • increasing male sperm counts in humans and animals
  • treatment of liver cancer
  • treatment of sickle cell anemia
3. How does glutathione whiten skin?

Skin whitening is a side effect of using glutathione. It is not the main use or function of the food supplement.

Dr. Eduardo Gonzales, in his article at the Manila Bulletin, says:

Glutathione whitens the skin because it inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which simply means it prevents the concerned cells in the skin from manufacturing melanin, the pigment that is responsible for the brown to black coloration of the skin.

4. What are the ways to take glutathione supplements? How much will they cost me?

Glutathione can be taken orally as a tablet or capsule. However, it is said that glutathione is is not well absorbed when taken by mouth. Sandy spends around Php1,400 monthly for the gluta capsules that she takes on a daily basis.

Glutathione soaps are also available in beauty and drug stores for a price range of Php100 to 300, depending on the brand. It is also said that it takes weeks to months to get the desired whitening results.

Injectables, which are said to act faster, are also available from dermatologists and online sellers at a minimum of Php3,000 per shot. Some of them come in combinations like glutathione + Vitamin C. Belo Medical Helpdesk gives the following info re: glutathione injectables:

Glutathione IV (intravenous) - Php 3,360.00 per vial (one session) done 2-3 times a week. To achieve maximum results, treatment should be done for 15 sessions. Effect will be seen on your 3rd session. Package: for 15 sessions- Php 44,800.00. A single treatment consists of 5cc of Vitamin C and 4cc of Glutathione. The product is made from Europe.

5. How often should I take glutathione to maintain the healthy effects?

Glutathione should be taken consistently to maintain both the aesthetic and healthy effects.

6. Are there any harmful side effects?

There are no established harmful side effects of glutathione. However, Dr. Gonzales doesn't advise people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, pregnant or lactating women, and children from taking the supplement.

7. What are the precautions that I have to make?

Both women and men should exercise care and caution in availing glutathione supplements. It's always best to consult with a doctor who knows your medical history.

At the same time, only avail glutathione from trusted sellers. Some buyers in the Glutathione Alert thread on eBay happened to have purchased fake supplements and reported prolonged side effects and vomiting for at least 3 days. (And for someone like me who had been hospitalized twice for a severe case of drug allergies, I suggest ultra care!) Make sure that the brand is BFAD approved.

The other wonders of glutathione shows how the food supplement is a real deal when we talk of beauty being skin deep. Call it fabulous, a miracle in a pill. We just have to be watch out for the fakes.

* Name changed upon request.


Eduardo Gonzales, M.D. Glutathione: The Real Score -- Medical Notes. Manila Bulletin, 26 Oct 2009.
Samuel Uretsky, The Gale Group, Inc. Glutathione. Healthline, 2005.

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