Glutathione Benefits for Your Health and Body

Glutathione Benefits for Your Health and Body

A doctor adds a vitamin to a syringe.

Glutathione has been gaining traction. It is THE ultimate antioxidant and anti-carcinogen, made and recycled within our body naturally. It quenches free radicals and reduces oxidative stress on the body making it one of our best defenders. Let’s break down this trending supplement and learn more about why it might be right for you.

What IS glutathione?

Glutathione is a tri-peptide structure made up of cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Although it can be found in several organs and tissues throughout the body, it is highly concentrated at the liver, kidneys, reproductive organs, and even within red blood cells.

RELATED: New to functional medicine? Start with these lab tests.

What does glutathione do?

Glutathione has a propensity to attach to electrophiles (think of “loose cannons”), which helps prevent genetic mutations, cellular damage, and toxic injury. In addition, glutathione has the ability to support the detoxification of fat-soluble toxins by making them water-soluble and ready for kidney excretion. 

What are fat soluble toxins, you may ask?

Think:

  • Parabens from personal products and cleaners
  • BPA and other BP derivatives from plastics 
  • Heavy metals like tin, lead (from paint), mercury (from amalgams and fish) 
  • Fuels & flame retardants
  • Although not necessarily a toxin, estrogen is also a fat-soluble substance that needs to be removed as well!

…just to name a few. 

Common reasons glutathione is depleted

Although there is research that has shown that glutathione production naturally reduces with age, it also increasingly reduced by:

  • alcohol use
  • increased toxic burden from chemical, heavy metal, and mold exposures (as listed above)
  • chronic use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) 
  • Diets rich in fructose 
  • Stress

RELATED: How to clean up your beauty routine.

How can I increase my glutathione levels?

For this reason, improving glutathione levels can be gently improved through food sources. 

Foods high in glutathione include: 

  • High Sulfur Rich Foods: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale watercress, mustard seed, garlic, shallots, onions 
  • Vitamin C Rich Foods: Kiwis, strawberries, citrus, bell peppers, papayas
  • Selenium-Rich Foods: Brazil nuts, organ meats, beef, fish, chicken, brown rice
  • Spices: Curucmin and turmeric

RELATED: What supplements should I take?

Do I need glutathione supplementation?

Of course on a case by case scenario, some patients will require more need and glutathione support! That’s why we offer membership at MIMC. Working with one of our providers to identify nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, toxic burden, and inflammation through appropriate testing and case work up, can help to identify if supplementation is further warranted—and get tailored health recommendations that are right for YOU.

At-Home Practices to Help Curb Acne

At-Home Practices to Help Curb Acne

a woman stands at the bathroom sink looking at her skin.

Facial acne can be frustrating! Who has that drawer at home full of lotions and potions all bought in hopes for a fresh face free of acne?! I know I have. Lo and behold the money I spent was never the fix. What I didn’t know was that my skin really needed gentle support. Here I am going to outline a couple cost effective at-home practices that are designed to do just that. 

Things to do at home to help treat acne

Jade rolling / gua sha

These tools can be used to stimulate lymphatic drainage. Think of your lymph system as your septic system. It is a large network of vessels and lymph nodes that are designed to remove waste products, in addition to aiding in the immune system response team.  Using a gua sha or jade roller you can help with movement of this waste that can become stagnant. 

How to gua sha: This will help move lymph through the face—use GENTLE pressure, not hard, as the lymph system is right under the skin, superficially. 

  • Follow a pattern of nose up and over brow, into temples.
  • Nose under eyes to temples.
  • Nose out and down towards ears.
  • Nose down around mouth to chin.
  • Repeat on the other side of your face.
  • Then down the sides of your neck.

Face Steaming

Facial steaming is a hydrotherapy technique—think the power of water. Facial steaming is used to help warm the surface of the skin, thereby relaxing the muscles of the face and opening the vessels up for improved circulation of blood flow and lymph drainage. In addition, it opens the pores, softens debris, and can be the perfect addition to help improve your topical skin care regimen.

If you have the following items at home (large glass bowl, a method to heat water, and a large towel) this can be practically a free setup! Here’s how:

  • Warm up water—this should NOT be boiling. Too high of heat can burn skin. It should be around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, max.
  • Add water to glass bowl.
  • Place face hovering just a few inches above (not directly  in the water!
  • Throw a towel over your head to direct steam directly to skin.
  • Bonus: throw on spa music and relax for about 15 minutes. 🙂

But if you wish, you can find various companies that have designed face steamers for easy use. Whatever your preference. 

Order of skincare steps, including a facial steam:

Wash face, facial steam, then apply moisturizer, serums or other topicals as indicated

The Classics

And of course, the classics—clean eating (good fats, proteins, veggies, and fruits)—give you the antioxidants needed to fight inflammation, provide the lipids needed to build and protect the skin barrier, and the nutrient sources needed to make your good microbes thrive.

Staying well hydrated with filtered water to help with the natural detoxification process of the 4 major hemunctory systems—pooping, peeing, sweating and breathing. 

Still need help with acne?

If skin is still aggravating, it is time to look deeper. Acne can be rooted in food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, skin and gut microbiome dysbiosis, reduced skin barrier hydration and protection, stress, and hormone imbalances. If this feels like you, give us a call—we’re here to help you detect root causes for your ongoing symptoms.

Heavy Periods with Lots of Clots? 4 Tests to Ask For

Heavy Periods with Lots of Clots? 4 Tests to Ask For

A doctor puts blood samples into a cooler.

Heavy, painful periods with lots of clots is not normal—you don’t have to struggle! Ask for these 4 tests to figure out the cause.

Transvaginal Ultrasound for Heavy Periods

Transvaginal ultrasound is a valuable imaging technique used to investigate potentially structural changes. The radiologist (the one performing the image) will be able to detect polyps or fibroids, which are common causes of heavy periods. In addition, they will measure the endometrium lining to ensure it is the appropriate thickness for the particular time of your cycle.

Labwork: Complete Blood Count + Iron Levels

These are simple labs to check for anemia and iron deficiency. Although it is pretty common that a heavy period can cause low iron and anemia, having low iron status and anemia can actually exacerbate the amount of bleeding—and can lead to larger blood clots.

There are many reasons for being anemic or low iron status, which can include eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, gastric bypass surgery, celiac disease, increased gut permeability, blood loss in stool, post-pregnancy, and more.

Full Thyroid Panel

Our third path to investigate is your thyroid to see if there are any contributing factors related to this organ. Thyroid hormone plays multiple roles in our bodies, including playing a role in our reproductive health. In patients with low functioning thyroid, or hypothyroidism, heavy periods or more frequent periods can ensue. It is good to check thyroid labs, especially if other persisting thyroid symptoms exist such as low energy, cold intolerance, hoarse voice, constipation, hair loss, weight gain, and brittle nails.

Sex Hormones

Fourth, I like to check your sex hormones to see if an imbalance here could be contributing to heavy periods and clotting. We’re looking for estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency.

An imbalance in estrogen, whether that is normal estrogen with progesterone deficiency, normal progesterone and estrogen excess, or the two extremes (progesterone deficiency combined with estrogen excess) can contribute to overstimulation of endometrial growth, and can result in heavy periods. Investigating the comprehensive sex hormone panel can help to identify hormonal imbalances so that modifications can take place to correct hormonal imbalances.

These hormones need to be checked at specific times of your cycle to ensure accurate readings, so make sure to consult with your provider when you make your lab appointments.

Want help figuring out your cycle? We can support you through your health journey!

Can Coming Off the Pill Make My Acne Worse?

Can Coming Off the Pill Make My Acne Worse?

A woman in a gray seater blazer holds two small pills in her open hand.

Whether you have experienced acne worsening after coming off birth control or you’re hesitant about coming off birth control for fear of acne, this post is for YOU! Being in the know can help you understand what your body may be undergoing with discontinuation of hormonal birth control and how to strategize your exit plan for easier transition.

There’s a whole list of things to consider when coming off of hormonal birth control. Possible skin flare-ups and an increase of acne are just one of the possible side effects. Why? Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Why Does Post-Pill Acne Happen?

There are a few reasons coming off of hormonal birth control can contribute to an increase in acne.

Microbiome Disruption

Studies have shown that birth control causes change to the oral, vaginal and gut flora. The impacts on your microbiome can predispose your intestinal lining to increased permeability (or, what is often coined “leaky gut”).

This disruption in gut permeability predisposes the gut lining to increased inflammation and food sensitivities, as well as increased susceptibility for exposure to other pathogens and illness. With changes to good gut flora, this ultimately can negatively impact the making and clearance of hormones. 

Nutrient Depletion

Hormonal birth control pills deplete nutrients. Medical research has discovered that oral contraceptive agents have been shown to deplete the levels of riboflavin, pyridoxine, folic acid, B12, C, and zinc. It just so happens that zinc is necessary in using vitamin A, a well-known skin nutrient that helps with speedy healing recovery, preventing breakouts, and supporting the immune system of the skin.

Zinc is also highly recognized for its immune function and its ability to inhibit bacteria from inhabiting sweat glands—yay for less acne formation! 

Androgen Rebound

The pill is known for blocking your natural hormone production. This includes testosterone production (often also why women also experience lower libido while on the pill). With the discontinuation of the pill, the body can experience what is called an “androgenic rebound”—basically meaning your body starts over-producing testosterone to compensate for the lack of testosterone prior.

Unfortunately, the immense change in testosterone levels can increase sebum production and acne formation—hello acne flare!

Terrified? Don’t be. These can all be dealt with by informing yourself and creating an action plan (plus, accepting that it will take some time and patience to regulate!).

How to Help Heal Acne Post-Pill

Support Gut Health

As we discussed the pill can cause a negative impact on the gut, so for us to effectively treat the acne we have to look at the underlying cause. (More resources on gut health here.)

Fiber is your friend: I can’t stress this enough! Fiber is the key to balanced blood sugar and healthy bowel movements, is a superb food source for your healthy gut bugs to thrive, and can help move estrogen clearance, all of which in turn can help reduce blemishes.

Balance Your Blood Sugar

A diet high in sugar can lead to insulin insensitivity, which can ultimately lead to requiring the pancreas to overproduce insulin. Why do high insulin and high sugar matter? They’re capable of further increasing testosterone production and simultaneously reducing sex hormone binding globulin concentrations. And all of that can mess with your skin.

Go Pro(biotic)

Consider adding in a medical-grade probiotic to help support the repopulation of healthy gut microbes. With a little help from your naturopathic doctor, you can consider what formulations are best for you. 

Ditch the Dairy

Dairy can be a huge skin irritant, as the lactose can often be poorly broken down by the gut, which can further exacerbate imbalances in the gut microbiome. Dairy can also be laden with exogenous hormones, which your body doesn’t need and won’t know what to do with.

Replete Lost Nutrients

Build a food plan for your week that is dense in nutrients. A good rule of thumb—each meal should contain at least 2 servings of fruits and vegetables. Not there yet? Start by adding it in slowly. 

A medical grade multivitamin can also help restore lost nutrients. Working with your naturopathic doctor can allow you to test specific nutrients and devise a nutrient strategy in optimizing depleted nutrients. 

Replenish Your Zinc

Zinc is key to healthy skin. Add chick peas, lentils, black beans, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds into your meal plan to help increase your body’s zinc reserves.

Keep an Eye on Your Hormones

Three months after you’ve discontinued your hormonal birth control, after you’ve made positive updates to your diet and lifestyle (see above!) is the perfect time to meet with your naturopathic doctor to test your hormones (don’t waste your money—skip hormone testing while you’re on hormonal birth control!). This will allow us to understand your biochemistry and hormone pathways to start addressing better estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels. 

How Long Does It Take to Reduce Post-Pill Acne?

Every person’s journey is different and can vary in time, but in my clinical experience, for those who are actively working to heal and navigate their total health find positive improvements in 4-6 months post-birth control.

Looking for support? We can help. Give us a call or book your first appointment online today. Wondering what other birth control options there are? Check out our breakdown of the pill vs. IUDs and the family planning method.


REFERENCES:

  1. Insulin regulates testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin concentrations in adult normal weight and obese men. PMID: 785253
  2. The Role of Vitamin A in Wound Healing PMID: 31389093
  3. Influence of hormonal contraceptives on microbial flora of gingival sulcus PMID: 9693397
  4. Association Between Long-term Oral Contraceptive Use and Risk of Crohn’s Disease Complications in a Nationwide Study. Gastroenterology. 2016. 150(7). 1561-1567.
Can I Test My Sex Hormones While on Hormonal Birth Control?

Can I Test My Sex Hormones While on Hormonal Birth Control?

Dutch test kits sit on top of a light wooden table.

If you’re on hormonal birth control, you’ll want to bookmark this article to reread anytime your doctor wants to test your sex hormones.

Why? Because lab-testing your sex hormones while you’re on hormonal birth control is a waste of your money.

Why You Shouldn’t Get Hormonal Labs While On Hormonal Birth Control

While on hormonal birth control, you are being given exogenous hormones. Exogenous hormones alter the level of hormones that your body would naturally produce on its own; therefore, sex hormones values you collect will be skewed. Labs collected on birth control will not give us your intricate hormone patterns. Instead it will be reading the hormones from your hormonal birth control.

Chemically, the combo birth control pill contains both estrogen and progesterone which prevents the pituitary from releasing FSH and LH, brain hormones that communicate with the ovaries. This is how it prevents eggs from maturing, preventing ovulation, and altogether preventing  pregnancy (and there are other potential side effects we’ve talked about before).

For this reason, it also does not allow us to balance hormones at that time. If we are using birth control to “control birth” through hormones, then the concept of balancing hormones is contradicting and conflicting with the overall goal.

So How SHOULD You Test Your Hormones?

This is why we is recommended that if you are ready to naturally balance hormones and come off of the pill to allow approximately 3 months for exogenous hormones to release before collecting labs (and we’ve talked before about what you should consider before coming off hormonal birth control). At that time, we can determine when the appropriate time is to draw sex hormones based on your cycle, and work to address appropriate production and clearance of hormones. 

Are There Options Besides Hormonal Birth Control?

For some people, this is why some patients to choose the ParaGuard IUD (Copper IUD) as a form of non-hormonal birth control so that they can have the best of both worlds—a successful contraceptive method, but also the ability to have a natural menstrual cycle and balance hormones without exogenous hormones from a hormonal birth control. More on that (what an IUD is, plus its pros & cons) here.

Interested in learning more? Read about why ovulation is important, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, or browse our full hormone library.