Although glutathione is not a household name, it’s a supplement proven to promote a broad array of significant benefits, including the protection of vital organs such as your liver and brain from chronic disease. Glutathione is produced by your body through a combination of components from three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. Thus, unlike many other nutritional supplements, glutathione is a naturally occurring product, which enhances the likelihood that it will be well-tolerated and have a low risk of detrimental effects. However, there are many factors, such as the dosage amount and character of the supplement, that factor into whether or not you’ll experience adverse effects, so glutathione side effects are possible. For this reason, it’s vital to consult a medical professional prior to taking glutathione supplements or any other health products.
Glutathione: Essential and Generally Safe
Glutathione is essential for health, as it plays vital roles such as staving off free radical damage, supporting immune health and promoting the proper function of enzymes. Glutathione may also help assist in sports performance, particularly due to its effects as an antioxidant. However, this does not preclude the possibility of glutathione side effects.
Possible Allergic Reactions
As with any other supplement, there is a risk of allergic reaction when taking glutathione products. Introducing any new substance into your body may cause such a reaction, and there is an increased risk when you take supplements with a broad array of ingredients or those manufactured in plants that also process peanuts or shellfish-related products. The possibility of triggering a marine life allergy may be greater in the case of antioxidant supplements, as some many contain omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin E, both of which are made from seafood. You may also experience allergic reactions if you have trouble processing dairy products; another possible effect is gastrointestinal discomfort.
Other Glutathione Side Effects
Another side effect of glutathione is changes in skin pigmentation. High doses of glutathione may trigger a lightning in your skin tone, which may be a welcome effect in some people. Typically, the effects are not permanent and cease when you stop taking glutathione supplements.
Special caution is recommended regarding the use of glutathione supplements in those who have asthma. Although there is no guarantee that glutathione use will aggravate asthma, some glutathione side effects coincide with effects of asthma, including tightness of the chest and a sore throat.
Glutathione Side Effects From Different Types of Supplements
As with other types of supplements and medications, some glutathione side effects are dependent upon the manner in which glutathione is delivered. Glutathione is available in several forms, including tablets, injections and inhalants. Tablets are more commonly associated with gastrointestinal discomfort and stomach-related side effects than the other two forms. Glutathione injections have the potential to irritate the skin at the injection site, and inhalants may cause discomfort in your nose, mouth and throat. Because of the skin-lightening side effect of glutathione, this supplement is often included as an ingredient in cosmetics creams. Applying such creams to your skin has the potential to cause rashes, hives or other irritations, but those side effects are not unique to glutathione-containing creams.
Despite the variety of potential glutathione side effects, glutathione is generally considered to be a low-risk supplement and is well-tolerated in many cases. However, it is still important to be aware of the potential adverse effects of glutathione supplements so you can be wary if you begin to experience anything unusual. Consult a doctor prior to using any glutathione supplements and stop taking the supplements and seek medical attention if you do start experiencing glutathione side effects.
- Glutathione: New Supplement on the Block; Alison Palkhivala; 2001
- WebMD: Glutathione
- Antioxidants & Redox Signaling; Mitochondrial Glutathione, a Key Survival Antioxidant; M. Mari, et al.; 2009