top of page
Glutathione Antioxidants and the Flu

There are many clinical studies showing that the status of the immune system is pivotal in the prevention and therapy of viral diseases and that antioxidants play a key role in maintaining a healthy and strong immune system. This fundamental scientific principal was recently tested by Dr. Dean Jones, Professor of Biochemistry at Emory University, who showed that the administration of L-glutathione to the oral cavity of mice reduced the numbers of viri penetrating respiratory tract cells compared to those in controls. Dr. Jones' study clearly supports the notion that topical application of glutathione antioxidants increases the cell's immunologic defenses, thereby helping to ward off the clinical syndrome we all know as the flu.

The Emory investigators first exposed human respiratory tract cells in culture with the influenza virus. Some of the cells were treated with glutathione. Untreated cells served as the controls. The investigators found that the human respiratory cells treated with glutathione antioxidants were completely protected against infection by the influenza virus.

Their second experiment involved the administration of glutathione in drinking water in the test group of mice. The untreated group served as controls and both groups were then exposed to an adapted strain of the human flu virus. The experimental group treated with glutathione had a significant decrease in the number of viruses compared to the higher numbers of viruses found in those that did not receive the glutathione. From these studies, the researchers suggested that administration of glutathione antioxidants at the site of entry of the virus could block the influenza infection in the oral cavity and upper respiratory tract. Other studies support this conclusion.

It is well known that older healthy individuals, patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, and smokers, among others, are depleted of antioxidants. These individuals are in a chronic state of oxidative stress and are thereby more prone to infections. Repleting the body's stores with a glutathione antioxidant complex is one way we can assure protection from infection organisms.


DeFlora and collaborators studied the effect of a glutathione precursor, amino-acid N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine, in both improving cell mediated immunity and decreasing symptoms of influenza in 262 healthy elderly subjects in various Italian Health Centers. The investigators compared the treated patients to control individuals on placebo. The treated group had a significant decrease in the frequency of influenza and in those who did develop influenza-like episodes, the severity of the illness was markedly reduced and the duration of the illness was significantly decreased. Both systemic and local symptoms were less prominent than in untreated controls. The investigators noted that the rate of sero-conversion was equal in the two groups of patients, but cell mediated immunity showed a shift from anergy to normal immune response in the treated patients, thus accounting for the findings that only 25% of treated subjects developed symptoms versus 79% in the placebo group.

Similarly, a 1999 clinical study in France revealed that selenium dietary supplementation to elderly subjects not only corrected nutritional deficiencies, but also, fewer patients developed respiratory infections.


A study by Gorton and Jarvis on the effects of dietary supplements in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus induced respiratory infections provides further support for the use of antioxidants in the prevention and treatment of the flu. They studied 252 young healthy students and again the treated group fared much better than the placebo group. The flu and cold symptoms in the test groups decreased 85% compared to the control group.

A few other papers, including a couple of animal studies, are supportive of the concept that antioxidants help prevent the flu.


The Jean Mayer Nutrition and Aging Group at Tufts University documented that age associated dysregulation of immune responses contributes to development of infectious diseases in the aged. Their production of pro-inflammatory compounds, such as free radicals and cytokines, is due to oxidative stress.


Administration of antioxidants ameliorated viral infection in the aged animals. This prestigious group reports similar observations in humans.

Applying these studies, Thione has created an ideal synergistic antioxidant composition to ward off the flu and/or reduce its severity and duration.

bottom of page