Is there a Link between Psychological Disorders and Glutathione Deficiency?
Millions of people in the world suffer from debilitating mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. Researchers and medical professionals have been studying whether glutathione can be used as an alternative to toxic and mind-altering antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. Studies indicate that using natural supplements such as glutathione increases brain function by promoting and maintaining cellular health. Glutathione is vital for health brain cellular function. One of the many important brain functions involves nerve transmission. Many mental disorders and diseases are caused by a miss-firing of nerve transmissions or defective brain cells. Antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs work to help stimulate cells to regulate brain function, but the medications can cause severe and often debilitating side effects. For this reason, many people afflicted with mental disorders or diseases simply stop taking the prescribed medications. It is a well-known fact that major depression and schizophrenia are attributed to a high degree of suicide, especially in young adults.
Glutathione may Minimize Symptoms of Mental Disorders
Mental and neurological disorders may be helped by boosting levels of glutathione. When a psychological disorder or disease is detected, glutathione and other vital amino acids and essential nutrients are below normal levels. An increase in glutathione levels, minerals and vitamins may counteract some of the symptoms associated with mental disorders. Chemical components naturally found in plants, called phytochemicals have also been shown to minimize symptoms.
A study conducted in April 2008 examined the effects of N-acetyl cysteine in the treatment of depressive symptoms in bipolar patients. Cysteine, one of the three major components in glutathione has been shown to be effective in minimizing symptoms and alleviating the need for psychotropic drugs. Researchers found that bipolar disorder and depression symptoms are worsened by low levels of glutathione. The study found that the use of cysteine can significantly improve symptoms associated with bipolar disorder and major depression. Study participants were found to have extremely low levels of glutathione. Researchers concluded that oral treatment with cysteine is a safe and effective treatment for several types of mental diseases and disorders.
Mental Illness: A Global Health Challenge
Mental illness has become a worldwide health concern. Many patients face long hospitalizations and suffer life-long disabilities from unmanageable symptoms. It has been suggested that environmental factors may play a role in the development and onset of mental disease. According to mental health professionals and scientists, mental and psychiatric disorders can be caused by a combination of genes and environmental factors. Genetic research indicates that certain gene variations can predispose some people to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression. Although it is not clear how environmental factors predispose certain people to mental illness, new treatment options are becoming available including natural supplements and vitamins.
Scientists have opined that environmental threats to mental illness include infectious agents, pollutants, toxins, traumatic injuries, the use of pharmaceutical drugs and nutritional deficiencies, all of which damage cellular health. According to a noted Harvard Medical School professor, damaged or weakened brain cells can alter brain chemistry, leading to serious mental health disorders. There is no cure for mental illness, but it has been suggested that boosting brain cellular health can help control symptoms.
Glutathione: Role in Managing Schizophrenia and Autism
Schizophrenia is one of the most debilitating of all psychiatric diseases, causing auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as paranoia and suicidal ideations. It is estimated that approximately 50 percent of all suicides in the United States are caused by uncontrolled symptoms associated with schizophrenia.
Autism, usually diagnosed in young children is a challenging disorder for which there is no cure. Many children afflicted with autism live sheltered lives and are never able to function in society. An article published in an April 2007 issue of the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine suggested a profound correlation between low levels of glutathione in pregnant women and the development of autism in a child. Although glutathione is not generally given to pregnant women, there are no published reports of adverse side effects.
The Role of Glutathione in Preventing Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease is a common form of dementia, usually affecting people in their later years, although some people may experience symptoms in their 40s and 50s. Researchers discovered that an increase in oxidative stress is linked to decreased levels of glutathione, an essential brain oxidant. According to a recent study designed to assess the role of glutathione in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, one of the causes of the disease is oxidative stress placed on bodily cells, especially those in the brain. If brain cells are damaged or begin to die, they cannot be repaired or replaced. The key is to prevent cellular destruction by an intake of essential nutrients, amino acids and supplements including glutathione and cysteine.
The Dangers of Antidepressant and Antipsychotic Medications
The medical profession has made great strides in the treatment of mental disorders and diseases since the early days when confinement to mental institutions and treatment with electroshock therapy was the treatment of choice. Antidepressant and antipsychotic medications have improved significantly during the last decade. A variety of drugs are commonly used to treat schizophrenia, major depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder. Although medications cannot cure a mental condition, they can help manage symptoms, allowing those afflicted to live normal lives.
Common medications used to treat schizophrenia have the most serious side effects. Haldol, Thorazine, fluphenazine and perphenazine are all antipsychotics. The drugs dramatically change the brain's chemistry, permanently altering or damaging brain cells. Many people taking antipsychotic medications are left in states of bewilderment, confusion and fatigue. Although the medications may help prevent suicide, the neurological side effects often cause people to stop taking the drugs. Muscle spasms, permanent tremors, a precursor to early-onset Parkinson's disease, restless and profound weight gain are some of the most serious side effects. Weight gain can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest and organ failure.
Medications used to treat bipolar disorder are just as dangerous insofar as side effects. Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft and Lexapro, all new medications, can cause severe fatigue, memory loss and a general lack of interest in everyday activities. These medications are usually prescribed for a short time, but many people stop taking them due to the side effects.
As a worldwide society faced with the challenging mental health crisis, it is time that mental health professionals discover the natural benefits of supplements, nutrients, amino acids and glutathione to boost cellular health. The use of natural substances whether through a healthy diet or supplements can help reduce rising costs of health insurance and may prevent unnecessary hospital stays. Mental illness is no longer a stigma and through the use of natural supplements, people are learning to manage their symptoms and become active members of society.