I’ve been taking NAC for a few years now, it’s come to be a favourite in my arsenal of supplements, and in a nutshell, here’s why…

NAC is fantastic for lung health, and as an asthmatic, my lungs need more TLC than most. NAC has been known to relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions by acting as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, as such reducing inflammation in bronchial tubes and lung tissue.

In 2016, a review in the Journal of Respiratory Medicine concluded that NAC either alone or with antibiotics can help decrease symptoms or worsening of conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and chronic bronchitis. More about NAC’s benefits later, let’s get into the science bit first.

WHAT IS NAC?

NAC or N-acetylcysteine is a synthetic form of cysteine, a semi-essential amino acid that converts into the antioxidant glutathione (your body’s most powerful antioxidant that works to reduce damage done by free radicals) in the liver – and it’s because NAC acts as the engine room or precursor for glutathione production that makes it invaluable if you’re looking to increase your body’s antioxidant capacity.

While cysteine is found in protein foods like chicken, eggs, fish, yogurt, cheese, and legumes, NAC is only obtained from taking supplements or prescription drugs. Let’s take a look at NAC’s other benefits.

MAY ASSIST WITH MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS

NAC has been known to have mood-lifting and stabilising effects – an imbalance of glutamate is believed to be one contributing factor to mood and cognitive conditions. Because it has an impact on levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the brain, NAC may be a complementary treatment for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

When utilised as an antioxidant therapy, it’s shown to have positive therapeutic impact on psychiatric syndromes that are either characterized by oxidative stress or impulsivity and compulsivity.

MAY HELP WITH KIDNEY AND LIVER DETOXIFICATION

There has been a significant amount of research into the efficacy of NAC in helping with detoxification. NAC is protective of both the kidneys and liver.

Your liver and kidneys flush drugs and other toxins out of your body, NAC supplements can speed up this breakdown process and may improve organ function.

Because NAC is such a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidant production, its liver benefits stem from lessening the effects of oxidative stress, which can occur in response to a high-fat diet, high alcohol consumption, pollution exposure, or a medication side effect.

MAY HELP REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF PCOS


Women with PCOS have been shown to have higher levels of oxidative stress than women without PCOS. High levels of oxidative stress can damage cells and promote inflammation which in turn worsens the metabolic aspects of PCOS. As a powerful antioxidant, NAC may help fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.

In a trial involving 100 women with PCOS, NAC was compared to Metformin, a blood sugar specific drug commonly prescribed in PCOS. In this trial women were given 600mg of NAC to be taken three times a day or 500mg metformin three times daily. What they found was that both treatments significantly reduced menstrual irregularities, free testosterone, and hirsutism (there was less hair on the face, chest, and abdomen—a common complaint of women with PCOS).

MAY PREVENT OXIDATIVE DAMAGE AND INFLAMMATION

Because NAC is important for the production of glutathione, it is also important in helping to prevent oxidative stress and inflammation.

Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance between the harmful free radicals and helpful antioxidants in the body. When there are too many free radicals in relation to antioxidants, oxidative damage and inflammation can occur. That’s why it’s important for us to have as much support for our antioxidant capacity as possible. 

CONCLUSION

There are so many reasons I personally take NAC, as mentioned upfront, for lung support, then kidney detoxification, to increase my antioxidant capacity, which in turn slows down oxidative stress, which benefits my body from the inside out – from organ support to external oxidative stress (skin ageing).

NAC is not a replacement for chronic medication and always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement!