N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC, is derived from the amino acid L-cysteine. Consuming adequate amounts of cysteine is critical to our health. One of the body’s most important antioxidants, glutathione, helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and tissues within the body. It is essential for immune health and for fighting off damage at the cellular level. NAC helps to replenish the glutathione in our bodies. It acts as a hepatoprotective agent by restoring hepatic glutathione, serving as a glutathione substitute. Cysteine is an antioxidant found in high-protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, and legumes. NAC is the supplement form of cysteine. It is used to help many conditions, such as flu, dry eye, and kidney disease. It is used for cough and other lung conditions due to its antioxidant and expectorant properties of loosening the mucus in your airways and reducing the inflammation in your bronchial tubes and lung tissue. It is also used in emergency rooms to treat Tylenol® overdose. NAC helps in the regulation of glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for sending signals between the brain and nerves in the body. In conditions such as addiction, NAC may help with withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
Acetylcysteine is also used for other conditions such as infertility, addictive behavior, and psychiatric diseases such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Dosage, Concentration, Route of Administration
Dosage: Seek advice from a licensed physician, medical director, or other healthcare provider
Route of Administration: For IV Injection only
N-acetyl cysteine is generally safe for most adults. Always speak with your doctor when taking any new medication to discuss the possibilities. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also typically safe when taking NAC, but should always speak with their healthcare provider before taking. Some drugs may interact with N-acetyl cysteine. One major interaction is with nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow. NAC tends to increase the effects of nitroglycerin, possibly causing increased side effects, such as headache, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Another drug that moderately interacts with NAC is activated charcoal.
Some common side effects include:
- – By mouth: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
- – Intravenously (IV): rash, fever, headache, drowsiness, low blood pressure, and liver problems
- – By inhalation: swelling in the mouth, runny nose, drowsiness, clamminess, and chest tightness
Store at controlled room temperature. Protect from light.