This well-researched nutrient helps the body make one of its most important antioxidants
One of the most underrated and underused natural dietary supplements that I have recommended to my patients over the past 35 years is an amino acid derivative known as NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) .
Why underestimated? Well, even naturopaths rarely recommend it, and most people who take natural supplements have never even heard of it. Yet this supplement could be the difference between life and death.
What is the NAC?
NAC is a form of the essential amino acid cysteine, something the body uses to make glutathione (GSH), one of the body’s most important antioxidants. In fact, all the benefits of NAC are due to the fact that it increases blood levels of GSH. The major impact of the NAC is on the immune system, liver protection, detoxification and cardiovascular health. We all need its anti-inflammatory protection badly.
How it works
NAC modulates the expression of genes that affect the inflammatory process. It inhibits the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, suppresses NF-kappa B and regulates the COX-2 gene, thus preventing inflammation and pain. These chemicals are implicated in hundreds of inflammatory conditions and diseases. In other words, NAC is anti-inflammatory and can either alleviate or reverse chronic inflammatory conditions.
Benefits for the cardiovascular system
NAC prevents LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) to be oxidized and cause inflammatory damage to blood vessels. NAC lowers homocysteine levels, which prevents plaque buildup in the arteries. The lower the homocysteine, the lower the risk of arterial blockage.
NAC is also the most effective natural remedy that lowers blood levels of lipoprotein a (Lp (a)), which many scientists believe to be a more accurate predictor of heart disease than blood cholesterol levels. Diet changes and medications do not lower Lp (a) as well as ANC.
NAC also improves insulin resistance and will improve metabolic syndrome, diabetes and hypoglycemia.
Since GSH has been documented to help many neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing damage, ataxia, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), it It goes without saying that NAC would be useful because supplementation increases blood levels. by GSH.
Benefits of the immune system
Because NAC increases the levels of GSH in the body, it helps fight most viruses, including the influenza virus and HIV, the AIDS virus. GSH is vital for optimal T and B lymphocyte function. NAC can block the production of the AIDS virus, so it is a valuable natural defense against at least this virus, if not millions of others.
You would think that it might be a good idea to supplement the body with GSH, but the major problem with this is that GSH is not absorbed intact from the gastrointestinal tract. Oral GSH supplementation is destroyed and inactivated by stomach acid. The CNA is not.
NAC supplementation is therefore more desirable because the body will produce much more GSH than if it supplemented GSH orally in any form.
Besides viruses, NAC protects the body against many pollutants, drugs, microbes, and toxic heavy metals such as mercury. NAC is mucolytic, which means it breaks down heavy, sticky mucus that can build up in conditions like sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cystic fibrosis. NAC is therefore essential in any condition involving excess mucus.
There is some evidence that NAC blocks the progression of most cancers and could be combined with chemotherapy to improve treatment results.
NAC protects the body against many different toxins due to its content of sulfhydryl groups which can bind and inactivate herbicides, mercury, cadmium, lead, other toxic heavy metals, drugs such as acetaminophen , environmental pollutants, microbes such as E. coli, carbon tetrachloride and aflatoxin. Although it is not a drug, NAC is approved by the government as a drug to prevent liver damage from acetaminophen (Tylenol) poisoning.
A very common disease that affects over 50 million people in North America is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this condition, the liver stores excessive amounts of fat mainly due to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes. Liver function tests usually indicate damage to liver cells, and the liver appears grossly fatty on ultrasound. This condition is promoted by strict restriction of simple carbohydrates as well as a vigorous exercise program. Studies also show significant improvement in liver function tests in people with NAFLD with NAC supplementation. Not only does it protect liver cells, it also helps heal damaged liver.
Benefits for the respiratory tract
Because NAC is mucolytic, just about any lung or bronchial problem can benefit from high NAC supplementation. Whether you have chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, sinusitis, or pneumonia, NAC helps reduce the viscosity of mucus so the body can spit it out more easily. A number of studies also conclude that NAC prevents influenza, possibly through this mucolytic mechanism.
NAC reduces both the frequency and duration of attacks of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and can lessen the devastating clinical course of pulmonary fibrosis, a commonly fatal lung disease.
In my practice, I have had great success using NAC nasal spray to treat chronic sinus pain and congestion. By combining the spray with high dose oral NAC and vitamin C is often more effective than prescription antibiotics for chronic or recurrent sinusitis.
Benefits for the stomach and other intestines
The bacteria known as H. Pylori has been found to be the cause of ulcers, gastritis, reflux disorders, and even different types of gastrointestinal disorders. Cancer. In fact, it is the second known cause of all cancers. NAC supplementation is able to inactivate H. Pylori and is worth adding to any antibiotic resistant H. Pylori infection.
Benefits for kidney disease
Kidney disease is greatly helped by NAC supplementation. Even dialysis patients can be helped with as little as 600 mg of NAC per day to reduce the inflammation occurring in chronic kidney disease.
Compulsive hair pulling / improvement of psychiatric illnesses
Trichotillomania is a bizarre obsessive-compulsive disorder in which victims pull their hair out for inexplicable reasons, causing noticeable hair loss. The usual treatment is antidepressants or major tranquilizers. Studies indicate that NAC significantly reduces compulsive hair pulling.
Schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disease, and other obsessive-compulsive disorders are also improved with NAC.
Due to its antioxidant effects and its benefits on the respiratory system, NAC improves athletic performance. Specifically, NAC reduces muscle fatigue and, as proven by double-blind studies, improves athletic endurance.
If you can effectively remove harmful free radicals, it stands to reason that you can prevent premature aging. This phenomenon has indeed been proven in numerous scientific studies.
Benefits of drug addiction
Studies indicate that NAC also decreases the craving for highly addictive drugs, including cocaine and nicotine. As such, it can be a useful addition to any drug detox program.
There are no accepted ideal doses for NAC. My advice is to start at 600 mg per day and gradually increase to a maximum of 3000 mg per day. Ideally, take with an equivalent amount of vitamin C for maximum anti-free radical effect.
Despite over 40 years of clinical use by naturopaths, holistic physicians, and nutritionists from virtually all walks of life, NAC has a well-established safety record, even at very high doses over long periods of time (you can take it virtually worry-free for months and probably years).
Some people experience nausea when taking NAC on an empty stomach, but the majority do not experience any side effects if they take it with food.
Zoltan Rona, MD, M.Sc., practices complementary and integrative medicine and is an expert in nutritional biochemistry and clinical nutrition. He is the author of 11 books on natural medicine. This article was originally published on NaturallySavvy.com