For more than three decades, a safe, low-cost compound has provided millions of people relief from the coughing, wheezing, and thick phlegm. Of course, pharmaceutical companies long ago co-opted it for profit by incorporating it into various patented drugs (primarily as a mucolytic / mucous-thinner). NAC is a slightly modified version of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. When taken internally, NAC replenishes intracellular levels of the natural antioxidant glutathione, helping to restore cells’ ability to fight damage from reactive oxidation.
The sad consequence is that most aging individuals have never heard of it. Even many doctors remain unaware of its potential role as a frontline defense against some of today’s most deadly public health threats, including:
1) Acetaminophen toxicity and acute liver failure (#1 cause of acute liver failure in the US). Given intravenously or orally, NAC saves lives every year from poisoning with acetaminophen-containing pain-relieving drugs, Tylenol, Vicodin, Percocet and Opiates.
2) It can protect against avian influenza and more common seasonal flu symptoms.
3) It reduces the frequency & duration of attacks of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
4) NAC protects tissues from the effects of exercise-induced oxidative stress, adding value and safety to your workout.
5) It improves insulin sensitivity in people with some of the most difficult-to-treat metabolic disorders.
6) It blocks cancer development at virtually every step in the process, and through multiple mechanisms, making it an important cancer chemo-preventive agent.
7) NAC fights the stomach infection Helicobacter pylori on two fronts, inhibiting the organism’s growth while reducing production of inflammatory cytokines that can lead to gastritis or ulcers.
NAC also regulates the gene for COX-2, the enzyme that produces pain- and inflammation-inducing prostaglandins in most chronic pain conditions. It’s ability to replenish the intracellular glutathione supply and decrease oxidative damage is a separate, and equally powerful mechanism.
N-acetyl cysteine is also used for preventing alcoholic liver damage, and protection against environmental pollutants, such as; carbon monoxide, chloroform, urethanes, certain herbicides, cancer treatment drugs ifosfamide and doxorubicin, and as a hangover remedy.
600-1,800 mg of NAC daily may act as an effective intervention against a constellation of degenerative diseases, and even hay fever, a lung condition called fibrosing alveolitis, head, neck and lung cancer. It is also used for treating some forms of epilepsy; ear infections; complications of kidney dialysis; chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s syndrome; and for detoxifying heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium.