Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 sponsored by Essential Formulas, Inc.

Revolutionizing Glutathione Therapy

By Ross Pelton, RPh, CCN

Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 (often referred to as ME-3) is a strain of probiotic bacteria that has been found to produce glutathione. Glutathione has been recognized for decades as the Master Antioxidant and as an important regulator of detoxification. However, when taken orally, glutathione is only minimally effective due to degradation during the processes. ME3 is revolutionizing glutathione therapy as results from human clinical trials reveal that daily supplementation with ME-3 substantially increases plasma glutathione levels.


The Department of Microbiology at the University of Tartu in Estonia has a long history of conducting cutting edge research on probiotics and the microbiome, including studying Russian cosmonauts to determine how space flights affected the human microbiome.

In 1995, microbiologists at the U. of Tartu were testing a wide range of Lactobacillus bacteria for antioxidant activity. While most failed, a strain named Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3, which had been previously isolated from the intestinal tract of a healthy one-year-old child, was found to exhibit extremely robust antioxidant activity.

Synthesizing Glutathione

After its discovery, testing revealed that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 actually synthesizes glutathione. In subsequent human clinical trials, it was reported that individuals taking ME-3 gained a remarkable 49% increase in the ratio of reduced to oxidized glutathione.1 Glutathione is made in every cell throughout the body and since ME-3 produces glutathione, it makes sense that many of its benefits parallel the benefits of glutathione in humans.

The Benefits of Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3

After discovering that Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 expresses strong antioxidant activity, follow-up studies began to reveal that ME-3 produces a wide range of additional health benefits. ME-3’s multiple benefits fall within four categories: antioxidant activity, immune system support, anti-inflammatory activity, and detoxification. Since its discovery, the benefits of ME-3 have been validated by nine separate human clinical trials.

Glutathione Overview

Glutathione is frequently referred to as “The Master Antioxidant.”2 An increasing number of studies link glutathione depletion with an increase in oxidative stress and a greater incidence of disease and accelerated aging. For example, reduced plasma glutathione levels have been shown to represent an increased risk for cardiovascular disease,3 and primary cause of the neurodegeneration that leads to Parkinson’s disease.4 Similarly, increased oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease has been attributed to decreased levels of glutathione in the brain.5 Low levels of glutathione have also been implicated in the cause and/or progression of cancer, inflammatory, immune, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases.6

Free radical damage is associated with all of the common diseases of aging.7 In addition to synthesizing glutathione, ME-3 also produces the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase, which play significant roles in glutathione function and regeneration.8

Scientists have also discovered that Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3’s also synthesizes the mitochondrial antioxidant enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD).9 Because mitochondria utilize about 90% of inhaled oxygen, they are highly vulnerable to free radical oxidative damage.10 MnSOD is the primary antioxidant that neutralizes highly reactive superoxide radicals (O2−), which are primarily generated within mitochondrial membranes.11 Consequently, MnSOD also plays a critical role in protecting cells against free radical oxidative stress.

Total Body Antioxidant Support

Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 provides additional antioxidant support because the glutathione it produces helps regenerate other oxidized antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10 back to their active forms. Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 has the highest Total Antioxidant Activity (TAA) and the highest Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) of any probiotic tested to date.12

Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 has a beneficial effect on several cardiovascular risk factors. In a 2-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, individuals taking ME-3 achieved a 16% reduction in oxidized LDL-cholesterol, slightly lowered triglycerides and a modest increase in beneficial HDL-cholesterol.13 At the end of this trial, these same markers had gotten marginally worse for the placebo subjects.

Enhances Detoxification

Glutathione is a critical regulator of detoxification in every cell of the body, but especially in the liver and kidneys. Glutathione is responsible for detoxifying a wide range of toxins. It is imperative to realize that glutathione gets depleted during the process of detoxifying toxins that are quite common in many people’s lives such as alcohol,14 artificial sweeteners such as aspartame,15 and tobacco smoke.16 Acetaminophen, which is a common ingredient in many pain medications, depletes glutathione very rapidly which is why acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.17

Promotes Healthy Bacterial Balance

ME-3 produces significant amounts of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide.18 These postbiotic metabolites function in several ways to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppress the growth of pathogens, which helps maintain a healthy microbiome.

Immune Function

Lymphocytes are a critical component of the immune system. Their primary job is to defend us against bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders. When faced with a challenge, the body dramatically increases the production of lymphocytes to fight the infection. Since glutathione is required for the production and function of lymphocytes, it is a critical regulator of immune function.19

Reduces Inflammation

In a 4-week human clinical trial, individuals ingesting Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 experienced significant reductions in the levels of several key inflammatory markers including glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6).20

Reduces Insulin Resistance

Ingestion of ME-3 for 4 weeks also resulted in a decline in the ratio of triglycerides to HDL-cholesterol, which is a marker of insulin resistance.21

Antimicrobial Activity

Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 has shown potent anti-bacterial activities against several common gastrointestinal pathogens. These anti-microbial properties correlate with the production of lactic acid, acetic acid and succinic acid.22

Helps Restore Microbiome Balance

Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 produces significant quantities of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide.23 These postbiotic™ metabolites help to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppress the growth of pathogens, which helps maintain a healthy microbiome.

Glutathione--A Reliable Biomarker of Aging

Drs. Lang & Richie began studying glutathione’s effect on aging in the late 1980s. In their initial study, they administered a glutathione precursor to the drinking water of mosquitoes which increased glutathione levels between 50-100% and resulted in a 30-38% increase in lifespan over controls.24 Subsequently, in all animals tested, boosting glutathione has resulted in better health and increased longevity.25

Glutathione deficiency is associated with increased risks to virtually all chronic degenerative diseases and increased glutathione levels are associated with better health and increased longevity. An increasing body of scientific research supports the ‘Glutathione Deficiency Hypothesis,’ which suggests that glutathione deficiency is a primary biochemical mechanism of aging that can be effectively modified by boosting glutathione levels. Consequently, it has been suggested that glutathione levels are an effective and reliable biomarker of aging.26

Boosting glutathione levels is increasingly being recognized as one of the most important proactive steps people can take to improve their long-term health and slow down their aging process. Virtually everyone can benefit from boosting their glutathione levels. Consequently, Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 is creating a revolution in glutathione therapy because taking ME-3 daily is an effective, easy and relatively inexpensive way to boost glutathione levels.

Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3-containing products are marketed by Essential Formulas®, Inc. under the brand name Reg’Activ®. There are four Reg’Activ products. CardioWellness™, Immune & Vitality™ and Detox & Liver Health™ each contain ME-3 plus supplemental ingredients that support either the immune system, heart health or liver function. Essential ME-3™ is a newly launched product that only contains Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3, without other supplemental ingredients.

Reg'Activ products with ME-3 are available at

For article references contact Ross Pelton at:


About the Author

Ross Pelton, RPh, CCN, is Essential Formula's director of science, in addition to being a practicing pharmacist, clinical nutritionist, and health educator in Southern Oregon. Pelton earned his bachelor of science in pharmacy from the University of Wisconsin. A certified clinical nutritionist, Pelton was named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Pharmacists in the United States by American Druggist magazine for his work in natural medicine. Pelton teaches continuing education programs for healthcare professionals to use natural medicine and integrate it into their practices. He also has authored numerous books, including The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, which is a gold-standard reference book for health practitioners.


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