N-acetylcysteine is the most important precursor form of glutathione. Glutathione is the most powerful endogenous antioxidant that can neutralize the 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 has mucolytic properties, which encourage a better functioning of the lungs. After being diluted, the mucus can be eliminated more easily.
Your doctor may prescribe acetylcysteine combined with other medications. Moreover, it is also used to improve the efficacy of several treatments and to reduce the side effects of certain medicines.
What is Acetylcysteine?
Acetylcysteine is a precursor form of the antioxidant glutathione. It also reduces the harmful effect of the 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 kidney diseases, and some psychiatric disorders. There is also evidence that it has antiviral properties, so it can also protect against certain viruses like the flu.
Acetylcysteine is also a mucolytic agent that helps to improve the functioning of the lungs in those who suffer lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and interstitial lung disease.
It has the ability to trespass the cell membrane and perform its task inside the cell and maintain high intracellular GSH levels, which reduces the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress.
It supports the lungs by diluting the mucus and removes it from the organism. The dose of acetylcysteine (also available as L-acetyl-cysteine), depends on the administration method.
If 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 to remove the mucus from the lungs
- It increases the glutathione levels in the body
- It is used for the treatment of acetaminophen overdoses
- It reduces the free radicals
- It can be used to treat the influenza virus
- It encourages hepatic health
- It produces a great antioxidant effect
- It favors the detoxification of the organism
- It encourages the elimination of heavy metals
- It reduces muscle inflammation
- It stimulates the health of the skin, hair, and nails
Acetylcysteine, a powerful antioxidant
Acetylcysteine has extraordinary antioxidant properties. This is due to the fact that it is the precursor form of glutathione, which is a "super antioxidant". When acetylcysteine is turned into glutathione, the body uses it to reduce the amount of free radicals.
The antioxidant properties of acetylcysteine act on several areas: it can regulate the production of nitric oxide, it helps with a proper DNA synthesis and it is involved in the metabolism of iron.
N-acetylcysteine and psychiatric disorders
Acetylcysteine has positive effects for 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 can have different effects on the functioning of the immune system, due to its role in the proliferation and movement of certain viruses. These effects are mainly helpful for patients with viral infections.
Acetylcysteine neutralizes toxins
Due to its antioxidant properties, acetylcysteine can be used to reduce the free radicals through the synthesis of glutathione. Doctors also use it for the treatment of toxic acetaminophen (a paracetamol overdose).
N-acetyl cysteine NAC is one of the best cell antioxidants and detoxifying agents since it neutralizes the free radicals and helps the organism to get rid of toxic heavy metals like plumb, mercury, and cadmium.
NAC in sport
It is highly advisable for sportspeople, since several studies have proven that it is effective to reduce muscle fatigue thanks to its antioxidant effect and its qualities to encourage a favorable cell environment in the organism for a correct muscle recovery.
It also helps to reduce muscle inflammation and it can be beneficial to promote joint health. N-Acetyl cysteine helps to stabilize the protein structure and intervenes in the collagen synthesis, which promotes the health of the joints, skin, hair, and nails.
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 have the flu or other acute viral infections
- People with oxidative stress or a high level of homocysteine or lipoproteins
- Patients with psychiatric disorders
- Those who want to reduce the free radicals with an antioxidant
- Those who have liver, kidneys, or heart diseases
- People with different forms of epilepsy
- Specially advised for sportspeople who undergo a high level of oxidative damage that is caused by physical activity
- Those who want to support the detoxifying function of their organism by helping to eliminate toxins
Does N-acetylcysteine have any side effects?
It can trigger inflammation of the mouth, runny nose, dizziness, and chest tightness if its is inhaled.
Acetylcysteine has not been tested for its use during pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, you should consume it only after consulting a doctor in these cases.
Why should I take an Acetylcysteine dietary supplement?
- To remove the mucus from the lungs
- To relieve the symptoms of certain diseases: viral hepatitis, liver disease, and the flu
- To increase the effectiveness of some medicines or to reduce unwanted side effects
- To increase low glutathione levels
- To encourage a better functioning of the respiratory tract in a lot 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 case of intravenous administration).