Prevent Medical Error (PME) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. As part of our mission to advance best practices that mitigate medical errors, we will be posting and/or reposting information and links to help you, your family and your providers make the best decisions during the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease that it causes, COVID-19.
According to Richard Lord, PhD, glutathione is “vital to life”, but what is it? Behind water, glutathione is the second most plentiful molecule in your body. It is a sulfur-containing tripeptide made up of the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Glutathione is an intracellular antitoxin and antioxidant produced in the liver and nerve cells in the central nervous system that neutralizes unstable free radicals.
What Are Free Radicals and Why Are They Important?
Free radicals are atoms – molecules- in your body. They are missing an electron so they try to steal one from a healthy cell. When they do it causes damage to the cell and creates free radicals. According to Dr. Amy Meyers, not all free radicals are bad. They are a necessary in small amounts to help the heal wounds, break down food and turn its byproducts into nutrients, detoxify, and support the body when it is under stress. The problems begin when there are more free radicals than antioxidants. In excess, free radicals damage cells, proteins; and they can also damage your DNA and lead to cancer. That’s where glutathione comes in.
“The Mother of All Antioxidants”: Where is Glutathione in Your Body and What Does It Do?
Dr Mark Hyman calls it “the mother of all antioxidants”. Every cell in your body contains glutathione but the brain, lungs and liver have the highest concentrations. In the liver, glutathione helps scavenge and detoxify toxins including chemicals, metals, and radiation and allow your body to excrete them. In the brain, glutathione functions as an antioxidant and mops up free radicals. According to Dr. Jill Carnahan, glutathione also:
- Acts as a signaling molecule to help modulate and ensure an appropriate immune response
- Regenerates other antioxidants like vitamins C and E
- Supports mitochondrial function and in turn, energy production in the body in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and cell signaling
Different Types of Glutathione:
There are two forms of glutathione: reduced glutathione, (GSH), and the oxidized form, glutathione disulfide, (GSSG). Reduced glutathione or GSH is the active form. It is missing an oxygen molecule but has an extra donor electron. GSH is the form that binds to toxins and other free radicals. It’s the active form and under normal circumstances when you are healthy, GSH or reduced glutathione usually represents ninety percent or more of the glutathione in your body. When glutathione donates its electron by bonding its extra electron to the reactive oxygen species molecules ‘dangling’ free radical electron it becomes an oxidized free radical, glutathione disulfide, (GSSG). With the help of the enzyme glutathione reductase (GR), the oxidized glutathione disulfide gets recycled back to reduced glutathione (GSH).
What Causes Low GSH Levels?
When one or more genes involved in creating and recycling glutathione is missing or mutated and not working well, it creates an imbalance between free radicals and the antioxidant form glutathione, reduced glutathione or GSH. Infection and other diseases usually result. Other genes such as those that predispose a person to allergy or other types of inflammation may also lower glutathione or block recycling of the oxidized form. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, pollution, toxins, medications, stress, trauma, aging, infections and radiation also deplete glutathione. This can overload your liver and detoxification systems and leave you vulnerable to infection and diseases such as cancer.
Last week pharmaceutical company Merck announced that they have filed for FDA emergency use authorization for their oral COVID -19 pill molnupiravir. It is a five day treatment, potentially shorter if it is used prophylactically. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb,, author of the book Uncontrolled Spread Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How to Defeat the Next Pandemic and Pfizer board member has called the drug a “ a profound game changer”, especially for the unvaccinated. We don’t know when and how widely available it will be. More importantly (for the majority of us) we don’t know how much it will cost.
An FDA authorized generic drug is the exact same as an approved brand name drug except it has a different label and is usually lower in price than than the brand name drug. Authorized generics may be marketed by the brand name drug company or by another company that has the permission of the brand name drug company. While they do have the manpower to verify whether or not they are still being manufactured and if not, when manufacturing ceased, the FDA has a list of authorized generic drugs on their website. You can also ask your pharmacist whether or not there is an authorized generic version of your medicine.
On February 27th, 2021 the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) of Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen division COVID-19 vaccine in US citizens who are 18 or older. Unlike Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, the good news for those who hate needles is that J&J’s vaccine only requires one dose.
In February, Pfizer announced that as efficiencies increase, they aim to almost halve the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine from 110 days to an average 60 days. According to MSN, while the US expects to have enough COVID-19 vaccines for every adult in May or sooner, expectations may collide with the real world realities of ice storms, hurricanes and other delays.
Despite the fact that production and distribution of the COVID -19 vaccines continues to ramp up, millions of people who want to get vaccinated are still scrambling to get in line. According to the Washington Post, although they are at the highest risk of death from the coronavirus, almost half of all seniors have yet to receive their first vaccine shot. To combat this, the White House Task Force has partnered with health insurers. The companies will reach out to seniors in low income areas to help get them vaccinated. This may be more difficult than it seems because states have different criteria on who is first in line for the shot and how to sign up.
The PBS NewsHour recently published some tips for finding a COVID vaccine. Here are some excerpts:
Before you call or go online to schedule an appointment:
Check in with your doctor’s office and pharmacist about your health history and whether or not you’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, or other injectable medication in the past that would contraindicate or delay your getting vaccinated.
Contact your insurer, write down the date time that you called and the name of the insurance company representative that you spoke with. Ask them if there are any out-of-pocket costs, co-payments or fees for care.
Have the following information at hand when you call or go online to schedule your appointment and bring it with you when you get your vaccine:
Get an updated summary and a list of medications and supplements that you take and any contraindications or other reactions.
If you have a pre-existing condition that makes getting a vaccine a priority, ask your doctor if you need a note to verify that you qualify for early vaccination.
Have your insurance information (including a copy of your insurance card) ready. Contact your insurer, write down the date time that you called and the name of the insurance company representative that you spoke with. Ask them if there are any out-of-pocket costs, co-payments or fees for care.
If you are able, help someone else out. We are all in this together. Things will get back to a new normal faster if we come together and help each other.
So, you've tried to buy healthy foods to eat during the lock down. You may have even done some research on how to stock your pandemic pantry with healthy foods. Somehow, a few bags of potato chips and chocolate chip cookies accidentally showed up at your house the last time you shopped for groceries.
Stress eating is a normal response to being stuck at home by yourself (or with your kids) with a pantry full of food in a world that has changed overnight.
What to do? Do you cave to your salt and chocolate cravings and eat them in one sitting? Do you lock up your pantry so that you can't eat or just feel so bad that you can't eat?
Here are a few resources that might be helpful:
The Washington Post's article "Stress-eating for comfort in a time of anxiety? Here’s how experts say you should deal." Explains why stress eating junk food, or eating too little or not at all can be detrimental to both your psychological and physical health. It gives readers tips on how to identify whether or not you are eating (or not eating) because you're stressed and advice on how to make healthy food and eating choices.
Prevention's article "12 Ways To Stop Your Stress Eating, According To Nutritionists And Food Psychologists" also offers quick tips to help you avoid eating overeating the wrong things or simply overeating.
Psychology Today's article "How to Stop Overeating" written by Susan Biali Haas M.D., an expert on stress and resilience tells how from the ages of ten through twenty she was "obsessed" with dieting and how she looked.
The article describes how a chance appointment with a dietician changed all of that. The clinician explained that given the how much exercise she was getting and the minimal amount that she was eating her dieting was suppressing her metabolism and potentially causing weight gain.
The dietician gave her a rule to follow: '...only eat when you're truly hungry, and stop when you're full".'
Twenty years later Dr. Biali Haas is still following that rule and she weighs slightly less than she did when she was dieting.
HEALTHFLIX is a new online community designed to help everyone get through the stress and isolation of the pandemic. They offer both live streaming and You Tube recording of health and wellness programs led by experts.
You might want to check out their YouTube recording: How to Manage Emotional Eating in Quarantine.
HEALTHFLIX's Chelsea Roff is the founder of Eat Breathe Thrive a nonprofit organization that works to prevent and help people overcome eating disorders. They offer courses and workshops for clinicians, eating disorder patients and everyone else that combine yoga, meditation and community support to enable mindful eating, resilience and feeling good about your body.
A flattened curve means that SARS-CoV-2 is spreading slowly and staggering the rate of people who develop COVID-19. This buys first responders, doctors, and pharmacists time to mobilize and best utilize scarce resources to treat people and save lives.
- Self-quarantine; if you need to go out for essentials, maintain at least a six-foot distance between yourself and others.
- When you return home, throw your clothes in a bag and spray disinfectant on them or wash them. Wash your hands and face or take a shower. Wash your towel, wash cloth, and/or hand towel.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds plus, the length of time that it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Keep your hands and hair away from your face. Sanitize hair accessories.
- Wash and dry hand towels, wash cloths, dish cloths and pillowcases in hot water and more frequently.
- Eat a healthy well-balanced diet with as few processed foods as possible.
- Do not stop or start any new prescription drug, supplement, over the counter medicine or diet before talking with your doctor and pharmacist.
- Keep your list of medications, supplements and over-the counter drugs updated and available to providers and first responders.
- Maintain a good self-care practice and a healthy sense of humor.
Click here for a video by Dr. David Price from Weill Cornell Medical Center: “Empowering and Protecting Your Family During the COVID-19 Pandemic
CDC Information and Self Check tools
If you or someone who lives with you has a fever or cough, and you fear it might be COVID-19, contact your doctor.
The CDC's What To Do if You Are Sick page is a good source of information that includes a self-checker to help you decide if you need more care.
Medical professionals may direct you to go directly to the CDC’s COVID-19 testing and self- checker page.
Another self-triage tool
This tool was developed with the help of primary care physicians using the latest recommendations from the CDC. While it is not a substitute for your doctor, it will help you determine what to do if you think you might have symptoms or may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.
Stat News has more information on The self-triage tool to help you decide if you need medical care for Covid-19 and what to do next.
Click here to get started with the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Self-Triage tool.