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NAC (N-acetylcysteine)

N-acetylcysteine is the most important glutathione precursor. Glutathione is the most powerful endogenous antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals.

NAC also neutralizes toxins and environmental pollutants including heavy metals that accumulate in the liver, kidneys and brain. Another property of NAC is that it promotes respiratory health, since it makes mucous become more diluted.

Acetylcysteine can be used to treat lung diseases as it thins the mucous, promoting a better functioning of the lungs. After diluting the mucous it can easily be dissolved and excreted.

Your doctor may prescribe acetylcysteine in combination with other medications. It is also used to improve the effectiveness of various treatments and to mitigate the side effects of certain medications.

What is acetylcysteine?

Acetylcysteine is a precursor of the antioxidant glutathione. Acetylcysteine reduces the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.

It is used to help the organism with various bodily functions. Above all it is a very powerful antioxidant, a strong expectorant and an antidote in cases of paracetamol poisoning.

Used among other things, for the treatment of various chronic diseases, including those that affect the lung and heart, as well as diseases of the kidney and in some psychiatric disorders. There is also evidence that it has antiviral properties, so it can therefore protect against certain viruses such as influenza.

Acetylcysteine is also a mucolytic agent that helps to improve the functioning of the lungs in those suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease.

It helps the lungs by diluting mucous and helping the organism to expel secretions. The dose of acetylcysteine to be taken (also available as L-acetil-cysteine), depends on the means by which it is administered.

In cases where it is taken as a dietary supplement, it is available in capsules of 600 to 1200 mg. In hospitals it is administered intravenously and by inhalation.

Acetylcysteine health benefits:

  • It is a mucolytic agent used for the removal of mucous in the lungs
  • It raises glutathione levels in the body
  • It is used in the treatment of acetaminophen overdoses
  • It reduces free radicals
  • It can be used to treat the influenza virus

Acetylcysteine, a powerful antioxidant

Acetylcysteine has extraordinary antioxidant properties. This is because it is the precursor of glutathione, a "super antioxidant". When acetylcysteine is turned into glutathione, it is used by the body to reduce free radicals.

Acetylcysteine’s antioxidant properties effect various areas: it can regulate the production of nitric oxide, it helps promote the correct DNA synthesis and is involved in the metabolism of iron.

N-acetylcysteine and psychiatric disorders

Acetylcysteine has positive effects in the treatment of certain psychiatric disorders and neurological diseases, such as epilepsy and autism. It can also reduce depressive symptoms in individuals with bipolar disorder.

The neurotransmitters transmit signals in the brain. Acetylcysteine is very useful in psychiatric disorders, since it has a decisive impact on two important neurotransmitters, glutamate and dopamine.

N-acetylcysteine and the immune system

Clinical studies have shown that acetylcysteine may have different effects on the functioning of the immune system, because of its role in the proliferation and movement of certain viruses. These effects mainly help patients with viral infections.

Acetylcysteine neutralizes toxins

Due to its antioxidant properties, acetylcysteine can be used to reduce free radicals through the synthesis of glutathione. Doctors also use it for the treatment of toxic acetaminophen (paracetamol overdose).

Who benefits from acetylcysteine dietary supplements?

  • Those with different types of acute and chronic lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), interstitial lung disease, bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Those suffering from influenza or other acute viral infections
  • People with oxidative stress or an elevated level of homocysteine or lipoproteins
  • Patients with psychiatric disorders
  • Those who want to reduce free radicals using an antioxidant
  • Those who have liver, kidney or heart disease
  • People with various forms of epilepsy

Does N-acetylcysteine have any side effects?

When inhaled it can lead to inflammation of the mouth, runny nose, dizziness and chest tightness.

Acetylcysteine has not been tested for use during pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, in these cases you should only take it after consultation with a doctor.

What can acetylcysteine help with as a dietary supplement?

  • To remove mucous from the lungs
  • To relieve the symptoms of certain diseases: viral hepatitis, liver disease and influenza
  • To increase the effectiveness of some drugs or reduce unwanted side effects
  • To raise low levels of glutathione
  • To promote better functioning of the respiratory tract in a multitude of diseases
  • To help treat chronic viral infections

Other names for acetylcysteine

Acetylcysteine is also known as N-acetylcysteine, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), L-acetyl-cysteine and acetadote (in the case of its intravenous administration).