N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a derivative of cysteine that is absorbed more readily than cysteine, stimulated the production of anti-oxidants by the body and may be itself an antioxidant. Thus, it repairs the cellular damage and boosts the immune system. NAC thins the mucus of chronic bronchitis and is used to protect the liver in cases of overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol). It can help in diseases caused by nerve or brain cells damage such as multiple sclerosis.
- it helps protect the body from the effect of alcohol and cigarette smoking, by removing the chemicals and heavy metals;
- it helps release mucus from the lungs. Clinical studies have demonstrated that NAC can dissolve mucus, being recommended for the treatment of bronchitis and respiratory problems;
- it helps the production of collagen and contributes to the elasticity and texture of the skin, hair and nails regeneration.
Cysteine can play a role in the prevention or treatment of the following diseases: asthma, hair loss, heart disease, exposure to heavy metals toxicity, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis, and viral infection.
Vegetarians who do not have a diversified diet can have L-cysteine deficiency, which is associated with a weak immune system.
Cysteine is involved in protecting the body by activating white blood cells and wound healing (useful in the case of surgery).
Another benefit consists in the protection against radiation and toxins. According to the statements made by researchers, this amino acid can help the human body fight the aging process.
NAC is used in poisonings with Acetaminophen, which is a compound that is used in medications to treat mild to moderate pain. The ingredient is commonly found in Paracetamol, and the poisoning is a medical emergency. Those who experience this kind of intoxication are recommended the administration of N-Acetyl L-Cysteine intravenously.
NAC acts as a shield against the colds and flu. In a study conducted by Silvio De Flora, MD, at the University of Genoa, Italia, and his colleagues, 262 seniors were administered 600 mg of NAC or placebos twice a day, for a period of six months, during the cold and flu season. The result was incredible, since few of the subjects taking NAC developed flu symptoms, despite the fact that the blood tests showed that they were infected with the flu virus. Moreover, those who did present the symptoms and were administered NAC, experience mild symptoms compared to the subjects taking a placebo.
NAC is also efficient in the treatment of infections. According to a Stanford University study of AIDS patients, it seems that those who took several grams of NAC every day had a longer life than those who did not take the supplement.
A recent study unveiled the fact that moderately high doses of NAC may lead to improvement with PCOS. This condition is characterized by enlarged cystic ovaries, obesity, elevated insulin levels, prediabetes, and high levels of male hormone.
Also, it seems that NAC can influence the mood and behavior problems, especially addictions since it is able to impact the activity of some essential neurotransmitters that enhance the brain chemistry.
Research has shown that NAC is able to help people with obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Several studies that were conducted at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, have revealed that patients suffering from compulsive nail biting, hair pulling, or skin picking had cured their behavior after taking 1,200-2,400 mg of NAC daily.
Other Uses for N-Acetyl L-Cysteine
The entire range of benefits provided by NAC is supported by research. Many studies have shown that N-Acetyl L-Cysteine is able to improve breathing in people suffering from either pulmonary fibrosis or COPD. It might also help sufferers who are submitted to the treatment for schizophrenia.
NAC might have a strong sulfur smell, but it’s exceptionally safe.
Those who take nitroglycerin for angina pain should stay away from NAC because it can amplify the drug’s effects and also lower blood pressure.