Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant and is present in every single cell in your body. It’s immensely important, with benefits that include boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, and protecting vital organs such as your heart, lungs, and brain.
Beyond these broad benefits of glutathione, it can also help with one particular age-related condition every woman experiences: menopause. Characterized by unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes, mood changes, and vaginal dryness, there’s no denying that menopause is not an enjoyable experience. However, glutathione might just offer relief to some women.
While glutathione naturally declines with age, menopause may cause it to drop even lower.
One study found that menopausal women showed lower glutathione reductase activity, which is responsible for maintaining the amount of reduced glutathione in the body. One of the most important roles of reduced glutathione is controlling reactive oxygen species. This is important because when reactive oxygen species build up in the body, oxidative stress can occur.
A decrease in antioxidant defense in menopausal women has also been exhibited in other studies, showing how menopause lowers glutathione production and increases the risk of oxidative stress.
Menopause results from a decline in hormones, resulting in a slew of unpleasant symptoms such as:
One treatment strategy for menopause involves hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which balances hormone levels and adjusts for this dramatic decline seen in menopause by supplementing with synthetic or plant-derived hormones. However, some downsides of hormone replacement therapy include its side effects and potential complications from long-term use.
For those searching for an alternative to relieve menopause symptoms, there’s glutathione. By increasing glutathione levels, a compound naturally found in the body, you may experience the benefits associated with regular glutathione levels.
Some of the benefits of glutathione, specifically for those going through menopause, results from its effect on estrogen.
The liver utilizes glutathione to support glutathione conjugation. This is an important pathway that is especially important for metabolizing estrogen, which breaks down estrogen into metabolites that can be excreted from the body. In some cases, this process may even be referred to as detoxification.
Since low estrogen levels characterize menopause, many people would assume that a decline in estrogen metabolism would be a good thing since it means more estrogen would remain in the body. However, unchecked estrogen can cause something called estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance is a condition with higher estrogen levels in the body compared to progesterone levels. This means that even if both of these hormones exist in low amounts, such as during menopause, estrogen dominance can still occur if there is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
This ratio between estrogen and progesterone is important, as they balance each other out. Estrogen is generally more aggressive on the body, but progesterone helps to calm its effect. However, if progesterone levels are too low, estrogen can run unchecked and may cause potential health complications.
Looking at the liver’s job in breaking down estrogen, there is a lot going on here as well. The liver can break estrogen down into 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH), 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OH), or 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (16-OH). 2-OH is considered a “good” estrogen that can block the actions of stronger, potentially harmful estrogens. In comparison, 4-OH and 16-OH are both considered potentially harmful, with the former associated with increased estrogenic activity and the latter with chronic health conditions and chronic diseases.
The goal for the liver is to produce more 2-OH than 4-OH or 16-OH, but it can only do this if it is in good health and well-supported. This is where glutathione comes in.
Glutathione helps the liver break down estrogen through a process called estrogen metabolism, ensuring that the body maintains a balanced estrogen level. This enzymatic breakdown of estrogen into healthier metabolites plays a crucial role in inhibiting the action of estrogens that stimulate excessive cell proliferation. By supporting optimal estrogen metabolism, glutathione promotes a healthier hormonal balance and reduces the risks associated with estrogen dominance.
Yet another reason why menopausal symptoms may occur is because of the combination of declining estrogen and antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are crucial for neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS) and preventing overexposure to oxidative stress. However, age can cause antioxidant levels to decline, leaving the body susceptible to age-related diseases that stem from oxidative stress. Even more, the decline of estrogen seen during menopause can further increase oxidative stress on the body, as we discussed earlier.
As the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione helps to combat this increase in oxidative stress. However, if glutathione is not at the desired level, which can occur because of the natural decline in glutathione seen through aging, it is less effective.
To help combat oxidative stress from menopause, it is important to increase glutathione levels.
Studies have shown the anti-aging benefits of glutathione, specifically for improving skin quality and addressing the dry skin that can occur with menopause. Additionally, glutathione can help to improve sleep duration and quality and increase energy levels throughout the day.
One study found that glutathione helps women in menopause by improving cell and vitamin regeneration and assisting the body as it removes metabolic waste.
Another study found that taking antioxidants, including glutathione precursors, can help improve the health and quality of menopausal women, especially for those for whom hormone replacement therapy is not an option.
As evident from the studies listed above, there is great potential in improving menopause symptoms by increasing glutathione levels. While the glutathione molecule itself is too large to be absorbed orally, taking a supplement that contains precursors for glutathione may provide the body with the elements it needs to naturally increase glutathione production. N-acetyl cysteine, NAC, is valued primarily for its role in antioxidant production. Along with two other amino acids, glutamine and glycine, NAC is necessary to make and replenish glutathione.
Increasing your body’s production of glutathione may help combat oxidative stress from low estrogen levels, efficiently break down estrogen into “good” metabolites, and prevent estrogen dominance. Low estrogen levels may be responsible for the symptoms of menopause, but glutathione can help the body adjust to this imbalance, making this time in your life more bearable.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice regarding glutathione supplementation or any health concerns related to menopause.