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N-Acetyl-Cysteine: Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Antidote

Once you read about the profound and diverse uses and benefits of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

Also used as a popular hangover cure for many, NAC became even more popular during COVID for its properties supporting the immune system, clearing the lungs and support for the liver after infection or vaccination. , apparently, the FDA tried to stop Amazon from selling this supplement and were attempting to have it recategorized as a medicine so that it would have to be prescribed by a doctor, but thankfully that didn’t happen, and we can still all benefit from it when we need it.

Get ready to learn about the far-reaching power of NAC!

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Key Takeaways

  • NAC helps make a powerful antioxidant called glutathione, which fights damage from stress and toxins.
  • It can support those dealing with symptoms in psychiatric conditionsassist with lung problems by thinning mucus, and support fertility in women with PCOS.
  • NAC serves as an antidote for acetaminophen overdose (in hospital settings) by supporting the liver’s healing process.
  • This supplement also shows promise in reducing irritability and hyperactivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder and supporting heart health by lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Taking NAC correctly involves choosing the right form, sticking to recommended dosages, and consulting a doctor if you’re taking other medications or have health concerns.

Understanding N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

N Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC, is the N-acetyl derivative of the amino acid cysteine. NAC is only available in supplement form, but cysteine can be found in foods like chicken, turkey, pork, tuna, lentils, eggs, garlic and yoghurt.

cysteine containing foods

According to Pubchem NAC has a role as an anti-infective agent, an antioxidant, an antiviral drug, an antidote to paracetamol poisoning, a vulnerary, a mucolytic, a human metabolite, a radical scavenger, a ferroptosis inhibitor and a geroprotector. This is quite an impressive list! But what does all that mean?

N Acetyl Cysteine, teams up with two other amino acids, glutamine and glycine. Together, they form glutathione. Think of glutathione as a superhero antioxidant in your body. It fights off harmful invaders like toxins and free radicals that can damage cells. Glutathione plays a key role in keeping you healthy by protecting your cells from these dangers.

NAC also helps control levels of glutamate in the brain while boosting glutathione production. This is good news for brain health! Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter but too much can be harmful.

We have customers who use NAC to help with inflammation and found that it really can clear up those pesky symptoms caused by everyday pollutants, lingering post-viral coughs, poor diet choices (eg alcohol and smoking) and long term use of medications.

NAC plays a big role in supporting your liver and kidneys to deal with the difficulty and cost of modern living with excess chemicals in our air, water and food supply. People with lung issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis might find NAC helpful too. It works to break down mucous, provide immune and lung support, and manage coughing over time. Check with your doctor to see if NAC may be right for you in these situations.

NAC is also being studied for its potential benefits in supporting longevity and healthy aging. Its antioxidant properties can help to reduce oxidative stress, which is believed to be a key factor in aging and the development of age-related disease. It also has neuroprotective and cellular protective effects which may improve cognitive function. To really amp up the power of NAC and its ability to make glutathione, consider combining our O2B NAC supplement with our O2B Plant Protein for its glycine content (hemp and pea protein both contain glycine).

What does the N stand for?

In compounds like N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and N-acetyl-carnitine, the “N” stands for “nitrogen.” This notation indicates that the acetyl group (CH₃CO) is attached to the nitrogen atom in the amino acid side chain.

The Health Benefits of NAC

Check out this video to discover some of the power of this supplement and read on for other areas of health where studies are showing results.

Psychiatric Conditions

NAC plays a big role in mental health. It has shown promise in improving symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. People dealing with these conditions might find relief by adding NAC to their treatment plan. Studies suggest that NAC helps by balancing chemicals in the brain linked to mood and behavior. We have also had customers tell us that it has helped with their children’s tics and OCD:

Besides lifting moods, NAC assists people fighting addictions. It can help you manage the withdrawal symptoms and lower the chances of going back to old habits. This makes it a valuable tool for those looking to turn over a new leaf and stay on the path to recovery.

Lung Conditions and Excess Mucus

NAC supplements offer a ray of hope for those struggling with lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchitis. These conditions can fill the lungs with mucus, making every breath a battle. With daily doses of NAC ranging from 600 to 1,800 milligrams, its mucolytic properties support thinning of the mucus so it’s easier to clear your airways.

This improvement isn’t just something you feel; it’s backed by studies too. People using NAC feel less shortness of breath and have fewer flare-ups. It’s not a cure-all, but for many, it brings much-needed relief and slows down lung decline. This makes everyday tasks more manageable and can improve quality of life significantly.

Insulin Sensitivity in Individuals with PCOS

NAC plays a key role in managing blood sugar levels, especially for those dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition often brings insulin resistance into the mix, making it harder for the body to control sugar levels efficiently.

If you have difficulty managing blood sugar levels (and therefore insulin) NAC can help against erratic blood sugar spikes that can throw days off balance.

Studies point towards NAC improving insulin sensitivity. This means it helps your body respond better to insulin, keeping your blood sugar levels more stable. For anyone struggling with maintaining consistent energy throughout the day or managing their weight due to PCOS, considering NAC could be a game changer.

It’s not just about taking supplements; it’s about giving your body an extra defense against conditions that can make everyday life challenging.

Acetaminophen Overdose

Another critical area where N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is used is treating paracetamol (acetaminophen) poisoning, which can cause serious harm to your liver if you take too much. NAC acts as a powerful antidote by boosting glutathione levels in your body to help repair the damage large amount of paracetamol can cause to your liver cells.

Doctors often give NAC through an IV or orally to those who have taken too much Acetaminophen. It’s most effective when used within 8-10 hours of the overdose. By replenishing glutathione, NAC helps prevent or lessen liver injury from the drug. This treatment has been saving lives and protecting livers for years, proving how essential it is in medical care for poisonings like this one.

Other Potential Benefits of NAC

NAC doesn’t just stop there, it steps up for mental well-being and may even help with aging signs.

Mental Health Disorders Management

NAC shows promise in helping people with mood swings and addiction. It can improve symptoms of sadness and rapid mood changes. For those fighting substance use issues, NAC may lessen withdrawal signs and cut the chances of going back to old habits.

Using NAC could be a key step for many dealing with mental health challenges. It supports brain health by fighting oxidative damage—that’s when harmful substances attack our body cells.

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Moving beyond managing mental health disorders, N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) also shows promise for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Studies suggest that this supplement can play a crucial role in reducing irritability and hyperactivity symptoms. This is particularly important for individuals seeking safer, less intrusive options to improve daily functioning and quality of life.

Parents and caregivers have noticed positive changes when using NAC as part of a comprehensive care plan. This includes better mood stability and reduced outbursts, making day-to-day interactions more manageable.

With its potential to support brain health through antioxidant effects, NAC continues to gain attention from researchers focused on developmental conditions.

Age-Related Health Conditions

N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) plays a big role in fighting age-related health issues. It helps by regulating glutamate and boosting glutathione levels. This is great for brain health, especially in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and has also been studied for cognitive function in Schizophrenia.

As we get older, our bodies face more oxidative stress and inflammation. NAC steps in to reduce these problems, keeping cells healthy longer.

Fighting harmful substances and supporting detoxification, keeps vital organs running smoothly. This means less risk of common age-related concerns, helping everyone feel healthier as they age.

Cardiovascular Health

N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) plays a key role in heart health. It helps by reducing oxidative stress, which can lower the chances of getting heart disease. Studies have shown that NAC when used with green tea mixes, reduces damage from LDL-cholesterol and may boost nitric oxide production. This makes arteries more flexible and lowers the risk of heart attacks. This amino acid also has potential for those with existing cardiovascular conditions. By improving blood vessel health and fighting inflammation, it supports overall cardiovascular system function.

Combining NAC and green tea is a great way to support your heart health as you get older.

Liver Function

N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) plays a key role in detoxifying the liver. This essential amino acid helps prevent damage from harmful substances, including drugs and environmental factors.

People with viral hepatitis or other liver conditions may find NAC especially beneficial. It supports liver health by aiding in the breakdown of toxins that can lead to inflammation and damage.

Kidney Function

NAC shows promise for those with kidney problems, including chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury. These conditions often require careful management of symptoms and treatment strategies. Research suggests that NAC might protect your kidneys during contrast-induced nephropathy—this is when damage occurs after certain imaging procedures using dyes. Plus, studying its use in chronic hepatitis C and obstructive bronchitis has highlighted its potential to support renal health further.

With a recommended dosage ranging between 600 to 1,800 milligrams due to low bioavailability, kindness towards your kidneys could be a supplement away. Now let’s explore how this antioxidant plays a role in gastrointestinal well-being.

By acting as an adjunct treatment, NAC may help reduce the harm from toxins and improve overall organ function. This benefit is especially notable in individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) where insulin resistance can impact renal function negatively.

How to Take NAC

  1. Check the dosage on your NAC supplement bottle. The suggested amount is usually between 600 and 1,800 milligrams per day. Sticking to this range is key for safety and effectiveness.
  2. If you’re new to NAC, start with a lower dose to see how your body reacts. You can slowly increase it as needed but stay within the recommended limits.
  3. Take NAC with or without food according to your preference or what feels best for your stomach.
  4. Store your NAC supplements in a cool, dry place to keep them fresh and effective.
  5. Talk with a doctor before starting NAC if you’re already taking other medication or have health concerns.
  6. Keep an eye out for any changes in how you feel after taking NAC and adjust your routine as needed.
  7. Consistency matters when taking supplements like NAC for health benefits, so try making it part of your daily routine.
  8. If you’ve been taking NAC consistently for a while (eg 2-3 months), check with your healthcare practitioner, but consider taking a break for a few weeks before continuing NAC is a mucolytic and so can break down mucous in any are of the body that has a mucous membrane and may cause dryness or irritation over time, eg the nasal passage, gut and vagina.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of NAC

NAC supplements might cause some side effects, especially when you first start taking them. People have reported feeling dry mouth, nausea, and sometimes even vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms may subside as your body adjusts to the supplement, but please discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

For that reason, those with conditions like asthma should tread carefully because NAC could make their symptoms worse if airways become too dry.

With these points in mind, let’s explore how certain medications might not mix well with NAC.

Drug Interactions with NAC

NAC can mix badly with some medicines. If you take nitroglycerin for chest pain, stay away from NAC, as it may impact your blood pressure. Check with your doctor if you are on any medications before taking NAC.

For children under 12 please check with your doctor before adding NAC to their routine, especially if you’re already taking other meds or have health issues.

Is NAC Safe?

N Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC, generally has a good track record for safety when used correctly. Most people can take it without facing serious issues. But like any supplement, it’s not free from risks. It can affect how blood clots interact with certain medicines like those for chest pain and blood sugar regulation.

Rarely, some might get kidney stones from using NAC in high doses for a long time. Because of these potential risks, anyone thinking about starting NAC should talk with their doctor first, especially if they have existing health conditions or take other medications. This step ensures that the benefits outweigh any possible drawbacks.

Can You Take Too Much NAC?

Yes, taking too much NAC can lead to problems. Just like with any dietary supplement or medication, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. The recommended dosage for NAC supplements usually falls between 600 and 1,800 milligrams daily.

Going over this amount can cause side effects. Some people may face issues like upset stomach, heartburn, or even more serious conditions such as impaired blood clotting and kidney stones.

If you’re considering adding NAC to your health routine for its antioxidant benefits or to support lung function, sticking to the advised dosage is essential. Always talk with a healthcare provider before starting new supplements, especially if you’re already taking other medications.


N Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC, does lots of good for our bodies. It supports cardiovascular health and blood sugar management with its antioxidant properties. Can support healthy breathing for those with chronic lung problems and supports the immune system to deal with viruses and the cellular damage they can cause.

Plus, it offers support for brain and neurological health in conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. For anyone looking to support their health with one supplement across a wide range of body systems and through healthy detoxification, NAC may be a game-changer.


1. What is N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) and why should I care?

N Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC for short, is a powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies fight off harmful substances. It’s like a superhero for our cells, protecting them from damage and keeping us healthy.

2. Can NAC help with serious health issues?

Yes, it can! Studies have shown that NAC has benefits in treating conditions like acetaminophen (like in paracetomol) poisoning in hospital settings.

3. Is it true that NAC can help me if I’m sick with the flu or COVID-19?

While not a cure-all, NAC has been studied for its role in reducing inflammation and mucus production – two big problems when fighting respiratory conditions like influenza or SARS-CoV-2 infection.

4. Will taking NAC make me healthier overall?

NAC is packed with antioxidants which are great for your overall health. Plus, it might help reduce risks of developing chronic diseases related to inflammation or oxidative stress.

5. Are there any risks involved with taking NAC supplements?

Like anything you put into your body, you want to be careful. If you’re on blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, talk to your doctor first since NAC could interact with your medication. Always check before adding something new to your routine.

6. How do I know if my body needs more antioxidants like those found in NAC?

If you’re feeling run down a lot or recovering from an illness; perhaps noticing slower recovery times than usual; these could be signs your body is craving more support against oxidative stress.

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