N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is one of my absolute favorites! It's a relatively low cost, high impact nutrient, and it's one of the most popular in my clinic. It's range of benefits span seasonal allergies to infertility.
Here are some of the most notable benefits and uses of NAC:
- Antioxidant activity: NAC acts as a precursor to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant produced by the body. By increasing glutathione levels, NAC helps combat oxidative stress and reduce damage caused by free radicals.
- Liver support: NAC has been used to support liver health and aid in the treatment of liver-related conditions. It can help protect the liver from toxic substances, such as acetaminophen overdose, and may assist in reducing liver damage caused by various factors.
- Respiratory health: NAC has mucolytic properties, meaning it can help break down and thin mucus. It is commonly used as an expectorant to alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions like chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis.
- Mental health support: NAC has shown potential in supporting mental health and addressing certain psychiatric conditions. It may help reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. NAC's antioxidant properties and its influence on glutamate levels in the brain may contribute to these effects.
- Detoxification support: NAC has been studied for its ability to support detoxification processes in the body. It can help promote the removal of certain toxins and heavy metals by enhancing glutathione production and supporting the body's natural detoxification pathways.
- Protecting against acetaminophen toxicity: NAC is commonly used as an antidote for acetaminophen (paracetamol) poisoning. It can help prevent or reduce liver damage caused by an overdose of this medication
NAC & Fertility:
NAC is a nutrient that I commonly reach for when working with couples with infertility. With its mucolytic properties, NAC helps to increase cervical fluid production. This is essential as cervical fluid keeps sperm alive, acts as a highway for sperm to find the egg, and has the ability to only allow healthy sperm through the cervix.
What about PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that can impact fertility. NAC supplementation may improve certain aspects of PCOS, such as insulin resistance, oxidative stress, ovulation, and menstrual irregularities.
NAC & Pregnancy
NAC has been explored for its potential role in preventing and managing certain pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Some research also suggests that NAC increases live-birth rates in women who've experienced recurrent pregnancy loss.
Consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or making changes to your regimen. They can provide guidance on dosage, interactions with medications, and individual health needs.