Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is made from the tree of the same name. It is particularly rich in antioxidant substances that act synergistically. One of its properties leads to improvement in circulation to the heart. As might be expected, it also reduces oxidized LDL cholesterol levels and lowers LDL cholesterol generally. In addition, it raises “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers blood fat levels.
Ginkgo biloba can take from a few weeks to a month to produce its beneficial effects. GBE with at least 24 percent ginkgoflavonglycosides is the best form to take. Standardized, semipurified, and concentrated, GBE provides consistent levels of its most active compounds. Take the recommended dosage on the package.
Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide made from the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid. This humble little protein is found in the cells of nearly all living organisms on Earth, and its primary job is waste disposal. GSH has three main detox jobs in the body:
1. When there are free radicals lurking about, threatening to start an oxidation reaction, GSH catches them, neutralizes them, passes them on (often to another antioxidant such as vitamin E), and begins the cycle anew.
2. In the liver, GSH latches on to toxic substances and binds to them so the liver can excrete them without being damaged.
3. GSH prevents red blood cells from being damaged by neutralizing unstable forms of oxygen. We cannot survive without this miraculous antioxidant.
GSH’s antioxidant work is the frontline defense for preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which damages the arteries. It also protects the lymphatic system and the digestive system from an overload of unstable lipids (fats and oils). If glutathione levels drop anywhere in the body, the burden of toxic stress goes up.
GSH is one of the most abundant substances in the body, and as long as we have a good supply of its building block cysteine (the other building blocks, glycine and glutamic acid, are rarely in short supply) and its cofactor selenium, it will be hard at work doing its detoxifying chores. GSH levels drop as we age and can be depleted by an overload of rancid oils (such as polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils), overexposure to poisons such as pesticides, and pharmaceutical drugs that stress the liver, which is to say virtually all prescription drugs. Since glutathione often passes off its neutralized waste products to antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, a deficiency of these vitamins can impair its function.
Measuring GSH levels is expensive at this time, but if you have heart disease, are at a high risk for it, or have high LDL cholesterol levels, try raising your GSH levels. The best way to raise GSH levels is by taking a cysteine supplement, preferably in the more stable form of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). Follow the directions on the container for dosages. Foods with high levels of cysteine include onions, garlic, yogurt, wheat germ, and red meat.
Prescription Alternatives: Hundreds of Free, Natural, Prescription-Free Remedies to Restore & Maintain Your Health, by Earl L. Mindell, R.Ph, Ph. D, & Virginia Hopkins, M.A. Published by McGraw-Hill.