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. NAC helps to replenish the glutathione in our bodies, which, in turn, is essential for immune health and for fighting off damage at the cellular level.
Cysteine is an antioxidant that is found in high-protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, and legumes. N-acetyl cysteine is the supplemental form of cysteine.
Why Supplement With N-Acetyl Cysteine?
NAC is used to help treat many conditions. Some of these conditions include flu, dry eye, cough and other lung conditions, kidney disease, and Tylenol overdose.
It is also thought that N-acetyl cysteine may improve psychiatric disorders and addictive behaviors as well. NAC helps in the regulation of glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for sending signals between the brain and nerves in the body. Glutamate plays an important role during brain development. Some conditions, such as bipolar disorder and depression, may see decreased symptoms and improved overall functionality while using N-acetyl cysteine. In conditions, such as addiction, NAC can help decrease withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
As stated previously, NAC can help treat respiratory conditions as well. N-acetyl cysteine acts as an antioxidant and expectorant by loosening the mucus in your airways and reducing the inflammation in your bronchial tubes and lung tissue. This is very important for keeping airways clear for those with COPD, asthma, or even bronchitis.
N-acetyl cysteine is indicated in patients with:
- – Respiratory conditions, such as COPD, asthma, and bronchitis
- – Kidney and liver disease
- – Psychiatric disease, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD
- – Addictive behavior
- – Infertility
- – Influenza
- – Dry eye
Some side effects are rare, but may occur when taking N-acetyl cysteine. These 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
Dosages depend on the patient’s condition and should be discussed with your healthcare provider. It is always important to follow your physician’s instructions when taking this medication.
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.
For any questions or concerns about any new medications, always speak with your healthcare provider. Be sure to always bring a current list of the medications, supplements, or herbal products you may be taking as well.
This product is available at our 503A/503B pharmacy.