N-acetylcysteine is the most important precursor form of glutathione. 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 dilutes the mucus.
Acetylcysteine can be used to treat lung diseases since it dilutes the mucus, which promotes a better functioning of the lungs. After diluting the mucus it can be excreted more easily.
Your doctor may prescribe acetylcysteine combined with other medications. Moreover, it is used to improve the efficiency of several treatments and to redice the side effects of certain medicines.
What is Acetylcysteine?
Acetylcysteine is a precursor form of the antioxidant glutathione. It also reduces the effect of free radicals and oxidative stress.
It is used to help the organism with several bodily functions. Above all, it is a very powerful antioxidant agent, a strong expectorant, and an antidote in cases of paracetamol poisoning.
It is used, among other things, to treat several chronic diseases, including those that affect the lung and heart, as well as diseases of the kidney, and for some psychiatric disorders. There is also evidence that it has antiviral properties, so it can therefore protect against certain viruses such as the flu.
Acetylcysteine is also a mucolytic agent that helps to improve the functioning of the lungs in those who suffer from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and interstitial lung disease.
It helps the lungs by diluting the mucus and the organism to expel secretions. The intake of acetylcysteine (also available as L-acetil-cysteine), depends on the administration method.
In cases where it is consumed as a dietary supplement, it is available in capsules of 600 to 1200 mg. In hospitals it is administered intravenously and by inhalation.
Benefits of Acetylcysteine for health:
- It is a mucolytic agent used for the removal of the mucus 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 form of glutathione, a "super antioxidant". When acetylcysteine is turned into glutathione, the body uses it to reduce the free radicals.
The antioxidant properties of acetylcysteine affect several areas: it can regulate the production of nitric oxide, it helps with the proper DNA synthesis and it is involved in the iron metabolism.
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 emit signals in the brain. Acetylcysteine is very useful for 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, due to 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 (a paracetamol overdose).
Who can benefit 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 who suffer from the flu or other acute viral infections
- People with oxidative stress or an high level of homocysteine or lipoproteins
- Patients with psychiatric disorders
- Those who want to reduce free radicals using an antioxidant
- Those who have liver, kidneys, or heart disease
- People with different forms of epilepsy
Does N-acetylcysteine have any side effects?
When inhaled, it can trigger inflammation of the mouth, runny nose, dizziness and chest tightness.
Acetylcysteine has not been tested for its use during pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, in these cases you should only consume it after consulting a doctor.
What can an Acetylcysteine dietary supplement do?
- To remove mucus from the lungs
- To relieve the symptoms of certain diseases: viral hepatitis, liver disease, and the flu
- To increase the effectiveness of some drugs or to reduce unwanted side effects
- To raise low levels of glutathione
- To promote a better functioning of the respiratory tract in a wide range of diseases
- To help with the treatment of 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).