How Glutathione Regulates Alcohol Detoxification

By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN

Everyone knows that consuming high levels of alcohol is toxic. The purpose of this article is to explain how alcohol causes toxicity and discuss a key therapy that helps protect against damage due to over indulgence of alcohol.

ALCOHOL METABOLISM: The metabolism of alcohol is a two-step process that takes place in the liver. In the first step, an enzyme named alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol into compound named acetaldehyde, which is called an intermediate metabolite.

In the second step, an enzyme named glutathione-S transferase facilitates the joining of acetaldehyde with glutathione and the acetaldehyde-glutathione complex is easily excreted in the urine. When adequate levels of glutathione are available in the liver, alcohol detoxification goes smoothly. However, one evening of heavy drinking will quickly deplete the liver’s stores of glutathione.

The body’s available glutathione levels are always being depleted during alcohol detoxification. Thus, people who regularly consume alcohol at moderate levels, such as one or two drinks a day, are also constantly lowering their level of available glutathione.

ACETALDEHYDE TOXICITY: It is important to realize that acetaldehyde is estimated to be from 20 to 30 times more toxic than alcohol. Acetaldehyde destroys enzymes and proteins it comes into contact with and it also causes DNA damage. Elevated levels of acetaldehyde in the liver destroys liver cells and leads to alcoholic liver disease (ALD). And finally, acetaldehyde is highly neurotoxic. Hence, elevated levels of acetaldehyde damage nerves and accelerate cognitive decline.

The damage from excess drinking is not due to the alcohol, but rather, to the toxic effects from acetaldehyde. When glutathione levels in the body are not adequate to keep up with the amount of acetaldehyde being produced during the first phase of alcohol detoxification, acetaldehyde begins to exert its powerful damaging effects.

GLUTATHIONE DEPLETION: The second factor has to do with the wide-ranging effects of glutathione. Glutathione is referred to as the Master Antioxidant and it is also a key regulator of the immune system and of detoxification in all cells throughout the body. When glutathione levels are depleted due to alcohol consumption, the whole body suffers. Free radical damage increases, the immune system is weakened and toxins begin to build up in the body.

BOOST GLUTATHIONE LEVELS WITH REG’ACTIV®: The Reg’Activ® product named Detox & Liver Health from Essential Formulas is a very effective method of boosting glutathione levels. Detox & Liver Health contains Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 (or just ME-3), which is a strain of probiotic bacteria that synthesizes glutathione. Each daily dose (2 capsules) contains 6 billion viable bacteria. This is like ingesting 6 billion little glutathione manufacturing factories every day, which results in a constant production of glutathione. In human clinical trials, people taking ME-3 gained a 49% increase in the ratio between reduced to oxidized glutathione, which equates to a significant increase in levels of active glutathione in the body.

Reg’Activ Detox & Liver Health

I encourage people who regularly consume alcohol to take 2 capsules daily of Detox & Liver Health. This is an effective way to boost glutathione levels which will help provide protection against the negative effects of alcohol.