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An Insight into Glutathione and Skin Whitening: Beauty over Brains?

Submitted by on November 21, 2014 – 7:27 PM One Comment

wskin_1Many dark skinned people dreamt of getting a fair complexion. Well, we can’t actually blame them; it’s the society and its self-produced measures  that has associated the concept of beauty with parameters such as fair skin and zero size figure etc. The skin color in humans is dependent upon the amount of melanin being secreted by the vesicles of melanocytes called the melanosomes.

 

These melanocytes are present in the basal layer of the epidermis. Not only the skin color, but the hairs and even the color of iris color is reliant on the concentration of melanin present in the cells and tissues of the body parts. Melanin also protects the skin from the harmful UV radiations.

 

Pheomelanin is a type of melanin that is responsible for giving the red color to the hairs, producing red and pink pigments in the body, whereas eumelanin provides the black and brown pigment. Another type of melanin, neuromelanin is found in different areas of the brain. Sometimes the melanocytes become non-functional or produces little amount of melanin which results in albinism.

 

So its clear that there is no role of glutathione in decreasing the tone of the skin or making you look fair, which is the biggest misconception among the youth these days. The color of your skin is what you inherit from your parents and to some extent, also depends on the environment you are living in.  You can maintain the color of your skin and can protect it from tanning but there is no permanent and enduring solution for getting a fair and white complexion.

 

Glutathione is naturally produced by a healthy liver and is considered the mother of all anti-oxidants. It is the master detoxifier and works to boost up the immune system. For these reasons it has been used in medicines since ages to treat various diseases such as cataracts, asthma, Alzheimer’s and in diseases that weaken the immune response in an individual. It is also used in various dosage forms from oral pills to IV and in inhalers.

 

Since the discovery of its anti-oxidant property, scientists have been working on it to make it a miracle potion for the benefit of mankind. Glutathione injections have been out in the cosmetic market for quite some time now and are being promoted as your skin whitening partner. Astoundingly, regardless of the costly value of these injections their demand is increasing with every passing day.

 

A single injection on your skin charges minimum of 5000 PKR. However these rates differ in individuals depending on the skin type. If what you crave for is a not-so-white but a younger looking and glowing skin then there is no harm in investing in these injections. But if you wish for a whiter you, then they are simply of no use! In fact skin whitening is considered as a SIDE EFFECT or otherwise as an adverse effect of glutathione.

 

In the race of getting prettier we have forgotten or are otherwise neglecting the darker side of these injections. They promise us of the whitening but the question arises, are they promising us the safety? These injections are now available online and can be purchased from the pharmacies without prescriptions.

 

There is no one to give you the guarantee and authenticity of the liquid present in those vials. The major groups of population purchasing these injections are girls and women between 15-30 years of age but this does not mean that men are not attracted to these. Who does not want to get a whiter skin anyway?

 

No one can deny the powerful antioxidant and anti-aging property of glutathione but they are of less or no significance in making your skin white. FDA has already announced these injections as unsafe for skin whitening but despite this they are being widely used and gaining popularity day by day for this skin-whitening property.

 

Although a huge number of people who have used these injections are quite satisfied with the result and living a normal life. To get the whitening effect,  the most advisable dosage is 20-40mg/kg of your body weight which is generally considered a very high dose (overdose) in its self.

 

To maximize the effect and to keep glutathione in reduced and absorbable form, you are advised to use it with ascorbic acid i.e. Vitamin C. Prolonged use (3 months and more) of this overdose of glutathione may give you the whitening effect but the safety is not established moreover FDA does not support this. Then what actually is the problem?

 

The problem is with the concept of whitening being promoted through advertisements full of make up and botox attracting everyone towards these injections, secondly,  these products are now available at ease which means greater chances of being fooled rather than getting your genuine glutathione injection. This results in severe complications such as the Steven-Johnson syndrome, Toxic epidermal necrolysis, numbness of extremities and the most famous side effect, skin whitening!

 

Other common side effects include skin rashes, diarrhea, hair fall, headaches, itchiness, chills and acne breakouts. The point is, to be safe rather than being sorry and not compromising the health for the sake of beauty. It’s essential to keep in mind that glutathione is basically an antioxidant so think of its anti-aging, anticancer and immune booster benefits rather than whitening. Basically, glutathione is being used widely for its adverse effect as an off label indication instead of its basic therapeutic use.

 

There are ways to maintain the level of natural glutathione that is present in your body by taking sulfur rich foods such as ginger and onion. Exercising also boost up the glutathione level and regulates the immune system which improves detoxification process. Other than this, taking vitamin C in your diet and denatured whey protein also regulates the natural glutathione level of the body. So instead of popping pills and taking injections, it’s sagacious to use healthier alternatives or precursors of glutathione as a better solution.

 

About the Author: Javeria Kamal is currently studying in 6th semester of pharm-D. She works for the animal rights and human rights as a member of WWF-Pakistan and an internee for ACAP respectively. She has studied phlebotomy and worked as an internee at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan and has worked as a patient counselor for the project SMART-DPIC run by KMC-KMDC. Javeria can be reached at docjiaa.jiaa@gmail.com

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  • glutathionepathway

    Awesome article. Skin whitening seems to be all the craze, I was actually introduced to it for it’s health benefits as a supplement rather than the IV versions. Though I agree there’s no direct mechanism for “whitening” in GSH, the detoxification benefits of a quality glutathione supplement may help some with their complexion. Some say their skin looks better, less blemishes, that type of thing. I think that’s all part of a “healthy glow” that has been mistaken for whitening.