Ask the MD: Glutathione and Parkinson’s
In this post I’m discussing a substance you may have heard of — glutathione. It’s made naturally by the body but is also available in certain foods and over-the-counter supplements. Glutathione levels decrease with aging and certain conditions, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). In people with PD, glutathione levels are lower in the brain, specifically in the substantia nigra (the area in which dopamine cells are lost). Also, the level of reduction in glutathione has been associated with Parkinson’s disease severity (less glutathione, more advanced PD).
The Role of Glutathione
Glutathione functions as an antioxidant — a compound that clears out free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are potentially toxic to cells. They are formed in the body from normal metabolism (such as converting food to energy), but are increased by exposure to environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke and air pollution. Buildup of free radicals contributes to a condition called oxidative stress, which is associated with aging and PD. Antioxidants may therefore offset oxidative stress by removing free radicals.