Health Benefits and Safety Considerations of IV Glutathione

If you, like most of us, are hunting for an anti-aging powerhouse, you’ve come to the right place.

Nowadays, there are numerous factors contributing to premature aging and chronic diseases. I’m talking about environmental pollutants, processed food, alcohol, smoking, pharmaceuticals, over-training, and chronic stress.

While there’s no secret fountain of youth (sorry to break it to you), increasing your antioxidant levels in conjunction with other lifestyle changes can improve how you look and feel. That’s where glutathione comes in. It’s a small but mighty antioxidant that slows the aging process and improves almost every facet of your well-being.

We’re not talking about just any glutathione, but intravenous glutathione. Today, we’re exploring the glutathione IV benefits, potential risks, and why it’s creating a buzz in the wellness world. We’ll cover cutting-edge research to help you decide whether this wellness trend is worth your time.

The Master Antioxidant: Getting to Know Glutathione

Glutathione is a natural tripeptide compound made from three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. It’s found in nearly every cell in your body, where it supports tissue repair, liver detoxification, and skin health.

Glutathione is often referred to as the “master antioxidant” because its main job is to protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Think of it as your personal superhero swooping in to save you from an evil army of free radicals.

Furthermore, glutathione produces enzymes that recycle antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and CoQ10. Overall, it gives you plenty of antioxidant firepower to shield your cells and DNA and minimize chronic inflammation.

What is Glutathione IV Therapy?

Glutathione comes in two forms in your body. There’s the active form L-glutathione (or GSH) and the inactive, oxidized form called GSSG. Usually, your body recycles GSSG back into GSH. But with the constant onslaught of toxins in our environment, sometimes your body can’t keep up. In addition, older folks or those with nutrient deficiencies may have trouble producing enough glutathione. This creates an imbalance between the free radicals and the antioxidants needed to fight them off.

That’s where glutathione supplements come in handy, especially glutathione IV therapy. You see, regular glutathione supplements don’t have great bioavailability and aren’t readily absorbed. Basically, your digestive system destroys the tripeptide bond before it can see the inside of a cell. Even liposomal glutathione supplements aren’t foolproof (although they are significantly better).

However, a glutathione IV drip bypasses your digestive system and goes straight into your bloodstream. This means you get the most out of the glutathione you’re putting in. It’s a great alternative if you have digestion or malabsorption issues.

How Does Glutathione IV Therapy Work?

While glutathione supplements and topical creams offer some support, research shows they don’t reliably increase blood levels of glutathione. With glutathione IVs, you get a concentrated dose directly into your bloodstream for maximum absorption and effectiveness.

If you’re not afraid of needles, IV glutathione is a convenient way to boost your levels quickly. Plus, if you get digestive symptoms from oral supplements, IV therapy may minimize side effects.

6 Glutathione IV Benefits

Overall, glutathione helps to prevent oxidative cell damage and chronic inflammation – with tons of downstream benefits for your health and well-being. Some research suggests it could even increase lifespan, although we only have animal studies so far.

Keep in mind, there’s lots of research on oral supplements but not many human trials on glutathione IVs. However, we’ve done our best to give you the deets on the potential glutathione IV benefits.

Note: There are unscrupulous “IV bars” trying to cash in on the IV therapy trend. Using intravenous infusions without proper medical oversight is risky. Always consult a trained healthcare professional to ensure your safety.

1) Reducing the Risk of Chronic Disease

Research indicates that low glutathione may increase the risk of chronic disease – including inflammatory, immune, metabolic, neurodegenerative, and heart disease. It means more oxidative damage, which is at the root of nearly every chronic health condition.

A concentrated dose of the body’s master antioxidant given as IV therapy may be a helpful strategy to guard against chronic diseases. That said, if you have a chronic illness, discuss IV glutathione treatment with your doctor first.

2) Supporting Detoxification and Liver Health

Glutathione is not only a powerful antioxidant but also a fantastic detoxifying compound. During phase II detoxification, your liver relies on glutathione to neutralize harmful substances and eliminate them safely from your system. If your glutathione levels are low, your liver struggles to shield you from toxins, which may build up in your tissues.

As per research, high-dose IV glutathione may enhance liver function in individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

3) Improving Skin Health

The path to a radiant complexion can feel like an endless journey if you’re dealing with acne, eczema, hyperpigmentation, sagging skin, or premature wrinkles.

A glutathione IV may be a shortcut to glowing skin. It may strengthen your skin’s protective barrier, shielding it from toxins, dry air, and pollution.

This study found an oral glutathione supplement for three months improved skin suppleness and reduced wrinkles. Although this wasn’t an IV glutathione treatment, it’s reasonable to assume that intravenous glutathione could provide similar benefits.

4) Helping You Fight Infections

Glutathione can bolster your immune function to combat common infections. It arms your immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells that target foreign invaders, such as natural killer (NK) cells and lymphocytes (1).

If you get frequent infections, your glutathione reserves are probably at rock bottom. A glutathione IV treatment could be just what you need to regain strength. Additionally, evidence suggests that glutathione therapy might even protect vulnerable people from severe symptoms of COVID-19.

5) Supporting Brain Health

Oxidative damage is one of the drivers behind age-related neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.

Glutathione therapy may safeguard your brain and nervous system. Animal research discovered it may improve cognitive functioning in mice with Alzheimer’s disease. In human trials, it may reduce disability in people with Parkinson’s disease. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits of glutathione.

I’m not saying IV glutathione is a treatment for these conditions. It absolutely is not. Instead, this research gives us more clues about glutathione’s role in brain health.

6) Reducing Age-Related Muscle and Bone Loss

I’ve mentioned oxidative stress quite a bit, but it also plays an important role in age-related muscle and bone loss. A glutathione IV treatment could slow down this side effect of aging, leading to improved mobility and overall function in older individuals.

Now, let me be clear. Glutathione IVs aren’t a magical quick fix. While they might give you a boost, they’re not for everyone.

Glutathione IV FAQs

Can Glutathione IVs Lighten Skin?

This one is a little controversial. In some communities, “skin brightening” glutathione drips are extremely popular because, well, Western beauty standards and aggressive marketing campaigns.

So, does glutathione lighten skin tone?

Glutathione is known as an anti-melanogenic compound. It has the potential to inhibit an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is responsible for producing melanin – the pigment that gives color to your skin. Glutathione IVs may work as a skin lightener by blocking melanogenesis, particularly in darker skin tones.

However, clinical research on the topic is murky. While it may be helpful for severe hyperpigmentation, most of the research uses animal studies. Plus, the skin-lightening effects are likely temporary.

It may help severe hyperpigmentation, but using glutathione IVs for skin bleaching is generally considered a waste of money and unethical. Beware of professionals who exaggerate these claims.

Where Can I Get a Glutathione IV?

As mentioned earlier, numerous “IV bars” and “clinics” around the country offer nutritional drips, including glutathione. However, it’s risky if these places don’t have qualified doctors on site (which is often the case).

We recommend asking your healthcare provider if they can administer a glutathione IV. That said, many family doctors aren’t exactly enthusiastic about glutathione and other natural treatments. If that’s the case for you, it’s a good idea to consult a qualified integrative medical doctor who can discuss whether IV glutathione is suitable for you.

How Long Does a Glutathione IV Session Take?

Once the IV is set up, the drip may last 30 to 60 minutes. During the session, the doctor or nurse will make sure you’re comfortable and check on you periodically.

If you’re someone with small veins, my advice is to drink plenty of water and move around to promote circulation before your IV. In my experience, it makes the process much smoother.

Are Glutathione IVs Safe?

When administered by a trained healthcare professional, a glutathione IV is safe.

However, there are lots of sketchy people out there pretending to be experts in this field to make money. This increases the risk of side effects and infections. Moreover, if you don’t get glutathione from a reputable medical practice, harmful ingredients could make it into the IV mix and cause toxicity. 

Always use IV therapy under a doctor’s supervision.

What is the Ideal Glutathione IV Dosage?

Glutathione dosage varies depending on the individual. When administering an IV, the dose may be 10-20 mg of glutathione per kilogram of body weight. However, given the superior bioavailability, a lower dose given more frequently may be more effective.

Are There Side Effects of Glutathione IV Therapy?

Glutathione IV therapy is less likely to cause side effects like bloating, cramping, and other digestive symptoms associated with oral supplements. However, an IV is a medical treatment and carries risks. One of the main concerns is an allergic reaction. In rare cases, people may experience a skin rash, itching, difficulty breathing, or headaches.

Always discuss existing allergies with your healthcare professional before using glutathione IV therapy. Overall, this helps you maximize the benefits of glutathione and minimize potential risks.

How Often Should You Have a Glutathione IV? 

The frequency of glutathione IV sessions depends on your specific health needs. Some experts suggest getting an IV weekly for 4-8 weeks. However, since glutathione levels remain elevated for a few weeks after an IV infusion, once every 3-4 weeks might be sufficient.

Your healthcare provider will suggest a safe IV treatment plan for your needs.

How Long Does It Take for IV Glutathione to Work?

While intravenous glutathione is rapidly absorbed, it may take some time for you to notice the benefits to your energy levels, appearance, and overall well-being.

Rest assured that this antioxidant is working hard behind the scenes to improve your long-term health.

Does Glutathione IV Therapy Interact with Other Medications or Treatments?

Glutathione supports efficient liver detoxification, so there’s a chance it might clear medications from your system faster than desired. While there isn’t solid scientific evidence to confirm this, it’s wise to be cautious. Additionally, high glutathione levels could cause drug resistance in some people.

If you’re taking over-the-counter or prescription medication, consult your doctor to ensure there are no possible interactions.

Can You Boost Glutathione with Food?

Absolutely! You can support glutathione levels by incorporating foods rich in glutathione-boosting precursors like sulfur and cysteine. This includes:

  • Allium-rich foods like garlic, onions, chives, and leeks
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale
  • Eggs
  • Brazil nuts
  • Seafood
  • Whey protein

Adding these foods to your daily diet is a fantastic way to improve overall health. Having said that, if you’re living on processed foods and toxin-laden packaged foods, your diet may be depleting your glutathione levels.

As for supplements, NAC supplements also encourage glutathione production.

What Are the Signs of Glutathione Deficiency?

Factors such as advancing age, poor diet, lack of sleep, frequent infections, a high toxic load, and chronic stress are known to deplete glutathione levels in the body.

Some warning signs of glutathione deficiency include chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, brain fog, aches and pains, and premature signs of aging like wrinkles or hyperpigmentation. If you suspect you may have low glutathione levels, consult a medical professional for advice.

Final Thoughts on Glutathione IV Benefits

IV glutathione is a promising preventive health therapy that directly infuses your body with its master antioxidant and detoxifier to help you age gracefully

However, seek medical guidance to determine the appropriate dosage and frequency of glutathione IV for your specific needs. Your healthcare professional can also monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments to the therapy.

Lastly, remember that there is no single secret to good health. The most critical factors for optimal health and longevity are nutrition, exercise, social connection, rest, and stress management.

About the Author

Katherine is a South African-born nutritionist, freelance wellness writer, and rooibos tea enthusiast (iykyk). When she’s not researching new “biohacking” trends and writing for her clients, you’ll find Katherine swimming at a local Cape Town beach or practicing breathwork at any opportunity.

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