With virus season lingering on and allergy season already underway, there’s a supplement we thought you ought to know more about. That’s because it can be beneficial in both seasons and many more conditions.
The product is N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). To better understand how it can offer so many benefits, first let’s discuss how it works.
First, NAC is a powerful antioxidant. A large part of that action comes from its ability to encourage glutathione production, the body’s most potent antioxidant. Glutathione is important for proper brain function, lung function, and liver detoxification processes.
Second, NAC breaks up mucus, especially in the lungs and respiratory tract.
Last, NAC modulates levels of glutamate, the most prevalent excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Glutamate is involved in learning, behavior, and memory. But too much glutamate can cause toxic damage in brain disorders like schizophrenia and addiction.
What conditions can NAC benefit?
Lung and Respiratory Diseases – Studies show that because it loosens mucus and acts as an anti-inflammatory, NAC improves symptoms and often duration of chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis. Some studies show taking NAC during winter resulted in decreased frequency of flu episodes, severity, and length of time in bed.
Nervous system and mood disorders – Key here is that NAC increases glutathione, and glutathione is the primary antioxidant in the brain. Low glutathione levels are associated with many mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, pathological gambling, and cocaine dependence. Small studies have shown NAC benefits symptoms of autism (reduces irritability), depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Cardiovascular disease – Oxidative damage to heart tissue can lead to heart disease, causing strokes, heart attacks, etc. NAC may reduce heart disease by reducing oxidative damage to your heart. It also has been shown to increase nitric oxide production, which helps dilate blood vessels and improves blood flow.
Liver disease – Chronic liver inflammation depletes your body of glutathione, and many researchers believe that depletion is why liver diseases progress. Taking 600 mg twice daily in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease improved liver function. In hospitals, NAC is used to minimize the liver damage caused by acetaminophen overdoses.
How much to take?
Dosing ranges from 500 mg -2400 mg daily, but at higher doses it can cause nausea, vomiting, or gastrointestinal disturbances. The most common dose is 600 mg twice daily. It can be purchased in regular or time-release tablets.