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Glutathione, Antioxidants and Inflammation
Theodore Hersh, MD, MACG
Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Emory University
The characteristics of inflammation include redness, swelling,
heat and pain. Inflammation is common in many types of arthritis,
infections and ulcerations of the skin and mouth. It is also present
in various types of dermatitis, including psoriasis and seborrheic
dermatitis. In skin, joint, muscle or soft tissue inflammation,
there is a marked increase of white blood cells that aid in the
fight against an infective bacteria or virus, and against "allergens",
the noxious molecules that cause allergic responses in the body
giving the patient symptoms depending on the target organ such as
skin, gut, or lungs.
These white blood cells, called leucocytes, and the other inflammatory
cell defenders also release countless free radicals in the area
of inflammation which require antioxidants to scavenge and neutralize
these free radicals. Many white blood cells also release potent
enzymes which can cause local destruction of tissues. These enzymes
overcome the body's local defenders, anti-enzymes, known collectively
as "protease inhibitors" (e.g., trypsin or elastase inhibitors).
In psoriasis, these leucocytes release the potent enzyme "elastase"
which is capable of digesting proteins, cell membranes and other
supporting tissues such as collagen and elastin. Psoriatic scales
have been shown to contain high amounts of this enzyme elastase,
which contributes to the lesions in psoriasis.
Treatment of psoriasis should thus include agents that reduce inflammation,
such as salicylic acid dermatologics. In addition, the reactions
caused by the free radicals can be neutralized with topical creams,
lotions and sprays which contain antioxidants, particularly glutathione
and its synergistic antioxidant partners. These antioxidants, like
the anti-inflammatory drugs, help reduce inflammation and the numbers
of inflammatory white blood cells are also thus reduced. As a result,
fewer free radicals and tissue destructive enzymes are made, thereby
helping the healing process and eliminating the many symptoms of
inflammation. In psoriasis then, antioxidants are adjuncts to therapy
which help control the itching, redness, scaling and flaking hallmarks
of psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis lesions in the skin and scalp.
Thione's ThioSkin™ antioxidant brands include a cream, spray
and shampoo. ThioSkin™ brands contain zinc pyrithione plus
the Thione Antioxidant Complex™, based on L-glutathione and
its synergistic antioxidant partners.
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