When it comes to beautifying among Filipinos, the word glutathione is already quite familiar. This antioxidant is said to prevent cellular damage by free radicals, potentially reversing cosmetic changes in the body such as lightening one’s skin tone. To that end, it has become a popular option in the beautifying scene to have glutathione injected to achieve a fairer complexion. Some cosmeticians that offer this treatment might profess that a glutathione treatment is already approved by regulatory boards in the country. That is a dangerous fallacy as it turns out.
As Inquirer.net would have it, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laid down the law last weekend where glutathione treatments are concerned. On July 5 they publicized an advisory stating definitively that they have not given any approval for injectable products to lighten skin, including glutathione. Thus far, glutathione’s only approved medical application within the country’s FDA is “as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.” As the FDA advisory further states, “To date, there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment.”
Said advisory went on to add a few tidbits on glutathione introduced into the body by hypodermic injection. There are the expected side effects of such a “treatment” such as toxic consequences for the liver, kidneys and the entire nervous system at worst. The FDA also alerted would-be patients to beware of ambulant experts that offer on-the-spot glutathione injection treatments, since the antioxidant has to be handled in a sterile environment. Non-sterilized glutathione injections have a high risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C. A bigger threat however is the theoretical possibility of developing skin cancer, due to how glutathione interacts with the body’s production of the pigmentation agent melanin.
Finally, the Food and Drug Administration advisory discusses a common occurrence in back-alley glutathione injection treatments. These are often paired with doses of Vitamin C, ostensibly to buff the immune system. Unfortunately these vitamin doses often are too much for the body to safely handle all at once. This could result in kidney stones forming when the patient’s urine is acidic, and even cause the hemodialysis Stevens Johnson syndrome. Ultimately, the FDA discourages the purchase of injectable glutathione products. They should rely only on certified dermatologists when it comes to consulting on potential skin treatments.
Image courtesy of GMA News