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One supplement that has gained wide usage in healthcare and shows outlook as an adjunctive treatment for many more diseases is NAC. But what is NAC? N-acetyl –L-cysteine, abbreviated as NAC, is a supplement derived from the naturally occurring amino acid called L-Cysteine. Common brands of NAC on the market include Mucomyst, Mucosil, and Mucmyst-10.
NAC Supplement Benefits
NAC is useful in treating and preventing several mental health conditions. The following are NAC supplement health benefits:
- Acetaminophen Poisoning: It is a suitable antidote for reversing hepatotoxicity resulting from excessive ingestion of acetaminophen (Tylenol). For this use, it is important to begin treatment within 24 hours of ingestion. Also, it is used as a home remedy for hangover eliminating.
- Anxiety: NAC is the generally safe treatment that helps calm nervousness. Research even supports the effectiveness in treating conditions including bipolar disorder, drug addiction, autism, and schizophrenia.
- Lung collapse: it is useful in the treatment of a disease called atelectasis, which presents with the presence of mucus plugs in the airways and resultant lung collapse.
- Tracheostomy: Tracheostomy is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a tube into a person’s windpipe to allow ventilation in a case where the patient has upper airway obstruction. NAC is useful in these patients to prevent crusting in the airway.
- Diagnostic Tests: In diagnostic laboratories, scientists use N-acetyl cysteine to prepare patients for certain diagnostic lung tests.
- Angina: improves the squeezing chest pain in patients with angina
- Chronic Lung Diseases: emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), fibrosing alveolitis, bronchitis, and pulmonary amyloidosis. Oral NAC improves the symptoms of these diseases by lowering mucus production and blockage in the airways and reducing the frequency of flare-ups. It breaks down these mucus plugs, freeing up the airway and improving respiration.
- Acute Kidney Injury from Contrast Materials: Contrast dyes used in X-ray and computerized tomography (CT) examinations can cause severe kidney injuries. In people with mild-to-moderate kidney problems, administering N-acetyl cysteine lowers this risk.
- Myocardial Infarction: Intravenous infusion of NAC maintains the integrity and function of the heart muscle in patients with myocardial infarction.
- High Blood Fat: NAC reduces the blood levels of lipoprotein and cholesterol in patients with abnormally high levels.
- Flu: NAC supplements are also effective in reducing flu definition symptoms and exudative otitis media.
- Glutathione: One important benefit of NAC is that as it impairs the absorption and effects of toxins, it causes an increase in blood levels of glutathione. Glutathione is a strong antioxidant that helps to mop up free radicals from the body, preventing disease.
- Skin: Topical application of NAC benefits skin; improves skin hydration, and reduces skin inflammation in people with atopic dermatitis.
The dose of NAC supplements depends on the age of the patient, the mode of administration, and the condition being treated. Now how long does it take for NAC to work? Its effects last three to four hours. Normally the dosage is about 400mg / day in 2–3 doses. Health providers often administer it orally or parenterally as an antidote for acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose which causes hepatic toxicity. It is also possible to inhale it to break down mucus clogs in the airway. To enhance the mucolytic action of the recommended abundant fluid intake.
Prevention of Liver Injury after Acetaminophen Overdose of acetaminophen should receive NAC within 8 hours of ingestion of acetaminophen. The dose is 300mg/kg in three divided doses administered continuously over 21 hours, with a little time between doses.
To beat NAC for anxiety, children and adolescents weighing 21 to 40kg should receive 300mg/kg of NAC in 3 divided doses administered over 21 hours. The dosing pattern is different in the diluent’s volume: 100mL, 250mL, and 500mL for the loading.
Intratracheally (in the tracheal cavity) NAC is injected with 1 ml of 10% solution every hour; for bronchial lavage with therapeutic bronchoscopy, 5-10% solutions are used. If it is impossible (in case of respiratory tract injuries, coma, unconscious condition), and in pediatric practice, the drug is injected intramuscularly. The duration of treatment of tracheobronchitis (combined inflammation of the trachea and bronchi) is 3-4 days; with cystic fibrosis (a hereditary disease, manifested by blockage of the viscous airway secretion) – 7-10 days. The effect of the drug in a single dose lasts 2-4 hours.
NAC Overdose and Withdrawal Symptoms
- An acute overdose on NAC vitamin is rare and typically occurs during treatment for acetaminophen toxicity. Symptoms of NAC overdose include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
- NAC is not psychoactive and does not have an addictive potential. There are no withdrawal symptoms when one discontinues it.
NAC Side Effects and Special Precautions
NAC supplement side effects declare themselves rarely if the drug was taken in high amounts and may include alvine flux, vomitus, constipation, sicchasia and distaste.
- People allergic or hypersensitive to acetyl cysteine should avoid N Acetyl Cysteine.
- Caution should be observed in persons prone to bronchospasm (with the onset of bronchospasm events, bronchodilators are prescribed).
- Patients with asthma should seek advice from healthcare providers because NAC might cause bronchospasm and shortness of breath in such patients if inhaled.
- NAC is likely safe in pregnancy.
- While working with the drug in laboratories as a reagent, one should use glass vessels, avoiding contact with metals and rubber.
Drug Interactions with N-Acetyl Cysteine
- NAC increases the effects of nitroglycerin on blood vessels, causing severe low blood pressure, headache, lightheadedness, and syncopal episodes if co-administered. Avoid this combination.
- Avoid combining activated charcoal with NAC. Although activated charcoal may impede the absorption of acetaminophen in cases of acute overdose, it may also impede the absorption and efficacy of NAC.
How and Where to Buy NAC Supplements
Check drugstores and online retail stores for the best NAC supplements on the market. NAC supplement reviews would also help to find out which ones to avoid. Consult a healthcare provider before purchasing for dosage guidelines and to be sure the potential benefits outweigh any risks.