NAC is the initials for N-acetylcysteine – a form of the amino acid L-cysteine. It is a substance with many benefits for our mind and body. There are many cases where NAC has helped treating health problems.
Why is it so beneficial?
NAC has many beneficial properties. Those that stand out are:
This allows it to protect our cells from harmful free radicals. But the most important thing is that it increases the production of glutathione! Glutathione is a very powerful antioxidant, essential for proper brain function, healthy lungs and liver detoxification. Although our body naturally produces glutathione, it appears to be reduced in several diseases. Taking NAC, glutathione levels rise again, contributing to the improvement of the symptoms.
Helps in the respiratory system
NAC is mucolytic, that is, it breaks the mucus in the lungs and the respiratory system. This helps in bronchitis, flu, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Flu. Taking NAC during winter months can help prevent and treat influenza symptoms. In a related study, taking 600mg of NAC twice daily contributed to a significant reduction in the frequency, severity and duration of influenza episodes.
- Chronic bronchitis. In this respiratory problem we have inflammation and swelling of the bronchi. The result is intense cough often accompanied by phlegm. NAC contributes to mucus breaking and also reducing levels of bacteria in the lungs.
- COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a serious condition commonly seen in smokers, making breathing difficult and causing intense productive cough. Long-term use of NAC can reduce exacerbation of COPD by improving lung function.
There are also indications that NAC can help in other cases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and allergic rhinitis, but further research is needed.
Helps in brain disorders and mood
NAC is glutaminergic, which means that regulates the levels of glutamic acid in the brain. Glutamic acid is involved in a wide range of functions such as memory, behavior, learning ability. Deregulation of glutamic acid and glutathione reduction are associated with many mental and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolarity and addictions.
- Addictions. In addictions, NAC supplement reduces withdrawal symptoms and helps to avoid recurrence.
- Autism. Autism is a brain disorder where there are some imbalances in glutamic acid, as well as antioxidant systems. Studies have shown that NAC consumption has significantly reduced the symptoms of irritability in people with autism.
- Bipolar disorder. Glutathione levels are very low or even depleted in bipolar patients. With the help of NAC, glutathione increases, resulting in reduced manic (bipolar) or depressed symptoms.
- Other conditions. Research has shown that NAC can help in diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.
NAC – Side Effects
Generally, NAC is well tolerated by the body, but it can cause some side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, or skin irritation. If you are taking any medicine, talk to your doctor as it may interact with a treatment that gives you eg. with antihypertensives.
All in all NAC is a supplement that can help us in various problems, from a common cold to some serious lung or brain problems. Find the right dosage for you, counselling your doctor and watch your life change!