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Glutathione Articles - COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) & Lung Disorders

The Use of Nebulized Glutathione in the Treatment of Emphysema: a Case Report
Davis W. Lamson, ND, Matthew S. Brignall, ND
Alternative Medicine Review. 2000;5(5):429-431)
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We present the case of a 95-year-old man with an acute respiratory crisis secondary to emphysema and apparent bronchial infection. Treatment with nebulized glutathione led to a rapid resolution of the crisis, as well as a marked improvement in the chronic course of the disease. This treatment has been used since for a number of patients with emphysema. The safety and bioavailability of this method of delivery have been established in human studies. Preliminary results suggest efficacy for nebulized administration of glutathione in this patient population. We suggest this treatment can be considered an option for acute respiratory crises due to COPD.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a designation which includes emphysema, is a leading cause of death in America. This case study reports on the successful treatment of both acute and chronic emphysema with a novel agent. Much of the tissue damage in emphysema is thought to be mediated by an oxidative down-regulation of the activity of α-1-proteinase inhibitor. This down-regulation has been shown in vitro to be slowed by glutathione, a sulfhydryl-containing tripeptide known to be a major antioxidant in the lung. Glutathione concentrations in bronchoalveolar fluid have been found to be inversely correlated with the degree of inflammatory activity in the lungs of smokers. Thiol compounds (i.e., compounds containing an –SH group) like glutathione have a history of use as mucolytics as well. Previous clinical trials of nebulized reduced glutathione have demonstrated the bioavailability and safety of up to 600 mg twice daily. The absorption of oral glutathione remains controversial, with animal studies suggesting significant absorption and some human studies showing little to none. Based on these findings, it appears inhalation might be the preferred route of administration for respiratory and perhaps systemic effect. We report the case of a man with an acute respiratory crisis due to emphysema and apparent bronchial infection that responded favorably to treatment with nebulized glutathione.

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