Essential Nutrients: N-acetyl Cysteine


NACResearchers around the globe have not always sought a single-source idea for the creation of diseases.  However, about 20 years ago a theme in research shifted to investigating inflammation as the primary reason for coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, and so many others.  N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) modulates our gene’s expression of molecules that develop the inflammatory response.  In layman’s terms, NAC blocks the full development of inflammation and disease, starting inside the cell.

Here are some of the applications for n-acetyl cysteine to “put out the fire” of inflammation and control disease based on 30 years of research:

  • NAC replenishes levels of the intracellular antioxidant glutathione (GSH), which is often deficient with advancing age and in chronic illness.  (RESISTS THE AGING PROCESS)
  • NAC is critical in the treatment of acute liver inflammation and bleeding from acetaminophen (Tylenol) toxicity and overdose.  (HEALS AND PROTECTS THE LIVER)
  • NAC can protect against avian influenza and more common seasonal flu symptoms.  (LIMITS THE EFFECTS OF VIRUSES IN THE UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT)
  • NAC reduces the frequency and duration of attacks of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may slow the clinical course of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).  (THINS MUCOUS THAT INTERFERES WITH BREATHING)
  • NAC protects tissues from the effects of exercise-induced oxidative stress, adding value and safety to your workout.  (MUSCLE PROTECTION, RAPID RECOVERY)
  • NAC improves insulin sensitivity in people with some of the most difficult-to-treat metabolic disorders.  (REDUCES THE INFLAMMATORY ELEMENT OF BLOOD SUGAR DISEASES)
  • NAC blocks cancer development at virtually every step in the process, through multiple mechanisms, making it an important cancer chemopreventive agent.  (WORKS ON THE ABNORMAL CELLS BEFORE THEY CAN TURN CANCEROUS)
  • NAC fights the ulcer-producing bacteria Helicobacter pylori on two fronts.  It inhibits the organism’s growth while reducing production of inflammatory cytokines that can lead to gastritis and stomach cancer.  (MINIMIZES THE RISK OF ULCERS TURNING TO CANCER)

As a sulfur-based amino acid, it is closely related to the amino acids found in veggies with that particular aroma; cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage.  These are already well known for their anti-cancer effect.  Also, as an amino acid, there is virtually no toxic effect from taking this nutrient.  Studies have shown that patients with COPD have used this successfully in amounts of 2,800 mg per day for three months with no side effects.  I personally have been on a regimen of 1,200 mg daily for the last five years.  Within the first six months, my liver enzymes (elevated because of inflammation due to pre-diabetes) came down into the normal range.  Standard medical care had no answer for me for 10 years.

I consider this an essential nutrient because our ability to produce it fades as we age.  If you live in the city, exercise frequently, eat poorly or already suffer from the effects of inflammation (asthma, allergies, digestive disorders, skin or breathing conditions), NAC will go a long way to helping your body fight what most easily breaks it down — inflammation.  Swanson is a company that I use personally and recommend many products to my patients (

I hope this was helpful.  In the future, I want to give you my Fab Five Essential Nutrients for assisting a healthy diet.  If you need to discuss your nutritional program with someone, give us a call.  Chiropractic’s education in biochemistry, nutrition and dietetics make us among the most qualified to do so of all primary care providers.


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