The 8 benefits of NAC
NAC has been studied extensively in intensive care units as a possible way to reduce organ damage before and after surgery. It helped protect the liver of 70 patients with lung disease when they were given shortly before heart surgery.1 It may also help with complications of heart attack, assisted breathing, abdominal surgery and pancreatitis when used in an emergency, before or after surgery.2,3,4
N-acetylcysteine has been used as an antidote for acetaminophen poisoning for over 50 years. It is almost 100% effective as long as it is given in the first eight hours after an overdose.5 Common painkillers contain acetaminophen, which can damage the liver and cause high-dose liver failure. Acetaminophen is the most common cause of severe hepatic damage.
- Helps combate pesticide poisoning
NAC also plays an important role in the process of body detox. According to some studies, NAC may be a safe remedy for chronic lead toxicity. It reduced lead levels and increased the antioxidant enzymes in red and white blood cells in 171 workers exposed to lead after 3 months.6,7
The combination of NAC and zinc could also protect against of mercury toxicity in rats, preventing the accumulation of mercury in the liver and blood. Clinical trials would need to confirm this effect.8
NAC helps with pesticide poisoning by enhacing detox. NAC administered to 30 people suffering from pesticide poisoning increased the amount of glutathione and reduced the need for additional treatments.9,10 NAC also reduced the damage caused by a highly toxic pesticide (aluminum phosphide) according to a study. It shortened the hospital stay, increased the chances of survival in people exposed to these pesticides and improved breathing.11
Silica is often found on construction sites and in agriculture. It may cause serious lung damage. In 96 people exposed to silica, NAC combined with an anti-inflammatory improved lung function, symptoms of cough, pain and congestion.12
NAC could be a lifesaver for people who accidentally consume poisonous mushrooms such as the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), the number one cause of worldwide deadly mushroom poisoning. When added to an anti-poisoning protocol, NAC accelerated the recovery process and prevented liver failure.13
NAC infusions also reduced oral ulcer and inflammation caused by chemotherapy in 80 people with leukemia.14 Orally administered NAC has been shown to be effective in protecting against the side effects of chemotherapy on the brain in 14 people with colon cancer.15 NAC and other antioxidants can prevent X-ray radiation used to diagnose bone cancers. Combined with vitamin C, lipoic acid and beta-carotene, NAC protected 5 people from damage to the X-ray scanner in a study.16
This supplement has also been shown to relieve the symptoms of respiratory diseases by acting as an antioxidant and expectorant, weakening mucus in the airways.17 As an antioxidant, NAC helps restore glutathione levels in the lungs and reduces inflammation in the bronchial tubes and lung tissue. In addition to relieving COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and bronchitis, NAC can improve other lung and respiratory tract conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as symptoms of nasal and sinuses congestion due to allergies or infections. According to one study, NAC improved symptoms and prevented the disease from getting worse in people with chronic bronchitis, with no side effects. It had to be taken for at least 3-6 months because 2 months of NAC did not improve COPD in a single study.18, 19
Exposure to diesel fuel can cause serious damage to blood vessels, even in healthy people. NAC and vitamin C intake before exposure to diesel fuel protected blood vessels in a study of 21 people.20
NAC helps regulate the level of glutamate – the most important neurotransmitter in the brain. While glutamate is needed for normal brain action, excess glutamate associated with glutathione depletion can cause brain damage. This can contribute to mental health disorders such as: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and addictive behavior.21,22
For people with bipolar disorder and depression, NAC can help reduce symptoms and improve general function of brain. Moreover, research suggests that it may play a role in treating moderate to severe OCD. An animal study also found that NAC can reduce the negative effects of schizophrenia, such as social withdrawal and apathy. NAC can also help reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent relaps in cocaine addicts.23,24
The oxidative damage of the heart tissue often leads to heart disease, causing strokes, heart attacks and other serious conditions. NAC can minimize the risk of heart disease by reducing oxidative tissue damage. It has also been shown to increase the production of nitric oxide, which helps dilate the veins and improves blood flow. This speeds up blood flow back to the heart and can reduce the risk of heart attacks. NAC and glutathione also boosts immune health. Research on certain diseases associated with NAC and glutathione deficiency suggests that immune function can be improved – and potentially restored – by supplementation with NAC. This aspect has been studied the most in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Boosts fertility in men and women
Approximately 15% of all couples trying to conceive are affected by infertility.25 In almost half of these cases, male infertility is the main contributing factor.Many male infertility issues increase when antioxidant levels are insufficient to combat free radical formation in your reproductive system. The oxidative stress can cause cell death and reduced fertility. In one study, 35 men with varicocele were given 600 mg of NAC per day for three months post-surgery. The combination of surgery and NAC supplement improved semen integrity and partner pregnancy rate by 22% compared to the control group.26
In cell models, NAC has been shown to inhibit replication of RNA viruses like the kind responsible for influenza A, B and RSV. It has also been shown in both cell models and human studies to inhibit inflammatory molecules. Because of its ability to support healthy immune function, antioxidant status and support the body in diminuating the inflammations, NAC is an important consideration in the treatment of viral illness.
- Stops cravings and addiction
NAC is a powerful way to get rid of cravings, and could potentially treat addiction.
NAC balances reward pathways, which reduces or eliminates cravings, and also decreases glutamate, a brain chemical that triggers reward-seeking behavior. Research shows that taking NAC can help decrease cravings and prevent relapse in people addicted to:
Addicts had decreased cravings after just three days of taking NAC.
Smokers showed decreased cravings after four days on NAC, and nearly 50 percent of people who took NAC successfully quit smoking, versus 20 percent in the placebo group.
Binge eating, although this research was in rats and hasn’t yet been tried on people.
- May help stabilize blood sugar levels
By now most of us know that high blood sugar and obesity are some of the key contributors to inflammation within fat tissue. Unfortunately, this can lead to the overall deterioration of insulin receptors which increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Some studies done on animals have shown that NAC might actually be able to stabilize blood sugar by decreasing inflammation in fat cells, improving insulin resistance
The recommended daily dosage is one capsule of 600 mg once or twice a day, between meals, with water or as prescribed by a specialist. It is recommended to tell your doctor that you are taking NAC if you are going to have liver tests because long-term or high doses may change your liver test results. It is not recommended to be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women.
If you feel you could benefit from NAC, I recommend trying our NAC, a brand of Vaida. Most people do best with one capsule 1-2 times daily, but keep in mind that most benefits are achieved after several months of consistently taking NAC.