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Glutathione and Autism: Why glutathione is so important and how to raise levels.

08 February 2024

Last Updated

Author: Warren Gouin

Glutathione Brain

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition with many symptoms and complexities. Researchers and caregivers are focusing on ways to reduce inflammation and toxins. With good reason too. Plenty of research shows that kids with Autism often have high levels of inflammation and toxic load. 

Our bodies have inbuilt ways to reduce inflammation, oxidative and toxins. The most important way our body does this is via Glutathione (GSH). Glutathione, an important antioxidant in our cells. Glutathione helps with detoxification and cellular protection.

Glutathione could play a key part in unravelling the mysteries of ASD.

As we delve into the intricate relationship between glutathione and autism, we embark on a journey of discovery. We seek to shed light on how this essential compound influences the development and management of ASD. Brace yourself for an intriguing exploration that will challenge assumptions and ignite hope.

Picture this: a world where the puzzle pieces of autism start to fit together. The enigmatic complexities find solace in the embrace of glutathione. But how does this antioxidant intertwine with the intricacies of ASD? 


Glutathione, the Master Antioxidant.

Oxidative stress occurs when there's a build up of reactive oxygen species. In other words, there's an imbalance between the production of harmful free radicals and the body's ability to counteract them. In the context of ASD, oxidative stress is a critical area of study. There's evidence that suggests oxidative stress in children may contribute to autism symptoms. This is where glutathione’s role becomes paramount. As a major antioxidant, it helps neutralise harmful free radicals. This protects cells from oxidative damage.

Glutathione is a very important antioxidant for the body. It helps keep our cells healthy by detoxifying harmful substances and regulating cellular death. Its most well known function is protecting against oxidative stress.

In the world of biology, there's a term called 'redox status.' It's all about balance in our bodies between two forces: oxidation and reduction. These processes are like two sides of a coin in our cells. Oxidation happens when a molecule loses electrons. The process of reduction occurs when a molecule acquires electrons. Together, they keep our cells functioning.

Glutathione is a big player in maintaining this redox balance. It can exist in two forms: reduced glutathione (GSH) and oxidised glutathione (GSSG). The reduced form, GSH, donates electrons to other molecules. This helps to stabilise them and protect our cells from damage. This process is essential for fighting oxidative stress. Harmful molecules called free radicals build up in our cells.

The oxidised form, GSSG, is glutathione that has already given away its electrons. It's like a superhero after a big battle. Our bodies can recycle GSSG back into GSH, making sure there's always enough of the superhero to go around.

The balance between GSH and GSSG is a big part of our cells' redox status. If this balance tips too far one way, it can cause problems. Too much oxidative stress, and we see cell damage, ageing, or diseases. That's why glutathione is so important. It helps to keep the scales balanced.

For people with symptoms of autism, maintaining this redox balance is especially important. Scientists are exploring how glutathione levels and redox status might be different in autism. They are also investigating how balancing them might help manage symptoms.

In a nutshell, redox status and glutathione are all about keeping things stable and healthy in our cells. It's a delicate dance, but with glutathione's help, our bodies can stay in harmony.


Glutathione and Mitochondria: Powering Up Our Cells

If you've been around health promotion long enough, you'll know that poorly functioning mitochondria are related to almost all chronic health challenges. Autism is no different. There's evidence from a variety of studies that often people with ASD have poorly functioning mitochondria. It's not saying that mitochondrial issues are at the root of autism, but it seems to be making symptoms worse.

To understand how glutathione helps mitochondria, here's the basics of what mitochondria are. They are like tiny power plants inside our cells. They produce energy that our cells need to function. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the energy that we need for everything we do, from thinking to moving.

Mitochondria also act as environmental sensors, sensing the health of the cell. They also sense the health of the surrounding tissue. They do this through communication with nearby mitochondria. If there are enough highly functional mitochondria in our bodies, they help with other functions such as;

  • Helps cells grow and divide at the right time.
  • Help cells go into protect mode when needed.
  • Tell the nuclear DNA which proteins to produce.


Now, here's where glutathione comes in. Glutathione is like a guardian for these tiny power plants. It protects mitochondria from damage caused by oxidative stress. Mitochondria is very susceptible to oxidative stress, and needs glutathione to help with redox balance.

Glutathione steps in to neutralise these free radicals. It acts like a shield, preventing damage to mitochondria and ensuring they can keep producing energy efficiently. This is super important because healthy mitochondria mean healthier cells. When our cells have all the energy they need, our bodies function better overall.


Understanding Glutathione in the Context of Autism.

Glutathione is important. Its significance increases when we explore neurodevelopmental disorders. This is especially true for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Scientists know oxidative stress as the delicate balance between free radicals and antioxidants. Disruptions can impact neurodevelopment. They may contribute to the onset and progression of ASD.

In the intricate tapestry of ASD, glutathione metabolism often gets disrupted. This can worsen symptoms by creating a precarious imbalance. This disruption can show up as a glutathione deficiency. It can also show up as an impairment in how the body makes and reuses glutathione. By deepening our understanding of the disorder, we unravel how glutathione metabolism is altered in the context of ASD. It also unveils promising ways to help autistic children and their recovery.


The Relationship Between Glutathione and Autism.

Glutathione and autism are closely studied. The connection interests researchers and caregivers. Many studies have looked at how changes in glutathione levels affect people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Studies have shown that the severity of autism symptoms may be connected to a lack of glutathione. This deficiency might lead to more cellular damage and inflammation, which are both involved in the development of ASD.

But the story doesn't end there. Glutathione's significance extends beyond its antioxidant properties. It also plays a crucial role in the detoxification of environmental toxins and heavy metals. These substances have long been suspected of influencing the risk of developing autism. When glutathione levels are compromised, the detoxification process becomes impaired. This leaves individuals with ASD more vulnerable to the negative effects of environmental stressors. This further complicates their already complex condition.

For those of us who are parents of children with autism, all of that means nothing unless our child feels better and improves their challenges. Some studies even observe better behaviour in children with autism after increasing glutathione levels.  This is the case for our son since he has been taken the latest liposomal form - Glutaryl.


Autism and Glutathione Levels.

Research has shed some light on the connection between glutathione and autism. Significant differences have been found by comparing the levels of glutathione in individuals with ASD and those without. It turns out that individuals with autism often have lower levels of reduced glutathione (GSH).

The enzymes involved in glutathione metabolism, such as glutathione peroxidase, glutathione s-transferase, and glutathione reductase often show altered activities. These enzymes play a crucial role in converting glutathione to its active form and maintaining its levels within cells. When these enzymatic activities are not functioning, it can lead to a decrease in antioxidant defence. This can make individuals with ASD more vulnerable to oxidative stress and toxin build up. So, it's important for caregivers to be aware of these findings. They should consider ways to support and enhance glutathione levels in children with autism.


The Role of Glutathione in Detoxification and Neuroprotection.

Glutathione is important for detoxification and neuroprotection. It helps the body get rid of toxins and heavy metals. These harmful substances can make autism symptoms worse. By improving the body's detoxification processes, glutathione can reduce the toxic load and ease some of the environmental triggers that contribute to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Glutathione has another important role. It helps protect neural cells and promote brain function. This protection is especially important for people with ASD.


Boosting Glutathione with Diet and Precursor Supplements.

How can we boost glutathione levels? One way is through diet. Eating certain foods can help our bodies make more glutathione. These are foods rich in sulphur, like garlic, onions, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. They're like fuel for making glutathione.

Another way is through supplements. One common supplement is N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC for short. It's a building block for making glutathione. Think of it like a key ingredient in our glutathione recipe. By taking NAC and other nutrients that help with glutathione production, we might help raise glutathione levels in the body.

Increasing glutathione levels in the body is vital for optimal health, given its role as a major antioxidant. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to boost glutathione levels through diet and supplements:

Dietary Approaches:

  1. Sulfur-Rich Foods: Include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, arugula, and bok choy in your diet. These contain amino acids like methionine and cysteine, essential for glutathione production.

  2. Quality Protein and Organ Meats: Consuming proteins from grass-fed meats and organ meats can help to produce glutathione. They are rich in sulphur and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which helps regenerate and synthesise glutathione.

  3. Spices and Foods: Certain spices like turmeric (containing curcumin) and foods like kale and garlic naturally boost glutathione levels.


Supplemental Precursors as Boosters:

  1. Milk Thistle: Contains silymarin, enhancing glutathione and protecting the liver.

  2. Whey Protein: Replenishes glutathione by boosting cysteine. Opt for high-quality, non-processed whey protein.

  3. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): A precursor to glutathione, effective in boosting levels and improving respiratory health.

  4. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Helps restore glutathione levels, especially in immune system depletion.

  5. Methylation Nutrients (Vitamins B6, B9, B12, Biotin): Critical for glutathione production; found in foods like garbanzo beans, liver, and lentils.

  6. Selenium: A powerful antioxidant necessary for glutathione creation, found in Brazil nuts, tuna, and beef liver.

  7. Vitamins C & E: Work together to raise glutathione levels and protect against oxidative stress. Rich sources include oranges, red peppers, almonds, and spinach.


Adding these foods and supplements to your child's daily routine can increase their glutathione levels. This strengthens their antioxidant defences and promotes overall well-being. Remember, a balanced approach that combines diet and supplements is usually the best strategy.

For people with autism, getting enough of these foods and supplements might help boost their glutathione levels. This could support their brain health and might make some aspects of living with autism a bit easier.


Glutathione Supplementation.

The potential benefits of glutathione supplementation in ASD are promising. They include improved detoxification, enhanced antioxidant defence, and reduced oxidative stress. But it's important to consider the challenges associated with supplementation.

When you take glutathione supplements by mouth, they are not absorbed well in your gut. Glutathione is made up of amino acids and can be broken down in your digestive system before it gets into your bloodstream. This breakdown makes it less effective.

To circumvent the issue of poor absorption and breakdown, alternative forms of glutathione supplementation have been developed. These alternative forms aim to improve absorption and breakdown.

  • Liposomal Glutathione: This form encapsulates glutathione molecules within liposomes – tiny spheres made of lipid layers. Liposomal glutathione is designed to pass through the digestive system intact, improving absorption into the bloodstream. Once absorbed, the liposomes merge with cell membranes, releasing glutathione directly into the cells. This delivery system enhances the bioavailability of glutathione, making it a more effective than standard oral glutathione supplements.

  • Transdermal Glutathione: Another alternative is transdermal glutathione, which is applied to the skin and absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This bypasses the digestive system entirely, preventing the breakdown of glutathione. Transdermal application can be a practical choice for individuals who have gastrointestinal issues that may hinder the absorption of oral supplements.


Explore our choice for the best glutathione supplement.


We realised how important glutathione is when we were trying to help our son recover from autism. So, we tried different ways to increase glutathione levels through food, precursors, supplements, and creams applied to the skin. At first, we were not impressed with the results because these methods only had slight benefits. However, as the delivery methods improved, the benefits became better.

We found a new transdermal glutathione called Glutaryl. It uses a new delivery mechanism that increases absorption through the skin. This is the only form where I can feel the effect in less than a minute of applying it to the skin. It has noticeably improved how well our son feels. If your interested in this highly effective form of glutathione, you can visit the store - Glutaryl Store. From there, you can learn more in their blog or obtain the book about Glutathione.

It's important to think about how individuals respond to different types of supplements, even with these new ideas. Things like age, overall health, and specific metabolic needs can affect how well glutathione supplements work and how safe they are. We still need more research on the long-term safety and best doses for both oral and alternative forms of glutathione supplements.

Before starting any supplements, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional. This is especially true for people with ASD. Getting advice from a professional will help create a plan that's personalised to the individual's health and needs. This will make sure it's safe and effective.



Glutathione and autism have a complex but important relationship. Research is still ongoing. It is clear that glutathione is crucial for managing oxidative stress. It is also crucial for detoxification and neuroprotection. These are all important for ASD. We need more research to fully understand how glutathione can be used to treat autism. We also need to develop effective strategies for individuals with ASD.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

  • Is there scientific evidence supporting the use of glutathione in managing symptoms of autism? Yes, several studies suggest a potential beneficial role of glutathione in managing autism symptoms, particularly related to oxidative stress and neuroinflammation.

  • Can glutathione supplementation improve oxidative stress levels in children with autism? Research indicates that glutathione supplementation may help in balancing oxidative stress levels in individuals with autism, though more comprehensive studies are needed.

  • What are the potential risks or side effects of glutathione supplementation in people with autism? While generally considered safe, glutathione supplementation should be approached cautiously, and potential risks or side effects should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

  • Are there any dietary or lifestyle changes that can naturally increase glutathione levels in individuals with autism? A diet rich in sulfur-containing foods, such as garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables, along with lifestyle practices that reduce oxidative stress, may help in naturally boosting glutathione levels.

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Do you want to make a real difference in your child's life?  The report is packed with ideas that can enhance early intervention.  Inside you'll find simple ideas to improve health and wellbeing of your child.  Written by a parent of a child with autism, full of the best ideas enable ytoiur child to life their true nature and purpose.

Book, 5 Things Autism Parents Must Know.

Learn about Glutaryl

After 10 years of searching for a glutathione supplement that actually works, we've found it.  Glutaryl is a unique, patented form of Glutathione developed by Dr. Nayan Patel,  PharmD, author of The Glutathione Revolution.

Glutathione, the master antioxidant.

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No products listed on this website are a treatment for autism.  I do not claim any products listed treat or diagnose any medical condition.  

Products listed are hand-picked due to their evidence of supporting health and wellbeing cost-effectively, as well as positive experiences experienced by my family and/or reported by other parents.

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