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N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in Early COVID-19…Let the Reader Decide
MemberJune 1, 2021 at 11:39 am
Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid.
It’s considered semi-essential because your body can produce it from other amino acids, namely methionine and serine. It becomes essential only when the dietary intake of methionine and serine is low.
Cysteine is found in most high-protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds and legumes.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine.
Consuming adequate cysteine and NAC is important for a variety of health reasons
1. NAC helps detoxify your body and can treat acetaminophen overdoses.
2. By regulating glutamate levels in your brain, NAC may alleviate symptoms
of multiple psychiatric disorders and reduce addictive behavior.
3. NAC can relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions by acting as an
antioxidant and expectorant, loosening mucus in your air passageways.
4. Because NAC helps regulate glutamate levels and replenish glutathione, it may benefit those with brain and memory ailments.
5. NAC may help improve fertility in men by reducing oxidative stress that
damages or kills reproductive cells. It may also aid fertility in women
6. By decreasing inflammation in fat tissue, NAC may reduce insulin
resistance and improve blood sugar regulation, but human-based research
7. NAC and glutathione also boost immune health. Research on certain diseases associated with NAC and glutathione deficiency suggests that immune function might be improved — and potentially restored — by supplementing with NAC.
8. NAC can reduce oxidative damage to your heart, which can — in turn — decrease your risk of heart disease.
9. NAC helps replenish glutathione, arguably your body’s most powerful
antioxidant. Therefore, it can improve a variety of health conditions.
History of NAC
NAC lives two lives— one as a drug and one as a supplement. A guide to the use of Mucomyst can be found online at drugs.com. Mucomyst is categorically on both sides of the Rx vs non-Rx issue as it is an over-the-counter non-prescription drug, not a dietary supplement.
NAC has been marketed for many years as a non-prescription dietary supplement and is largely without side effects when used properly.
NAC was first synthetically made in 1961and patented by Mead Johnson in 1965 as an agent that broke up mucus in the respiratory tract in 1986 and as the antidote for acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose poisoning of the liver in 1988.
NAC was first noted as a molecule that can restore glutathione levels in 1991 (pronounced gloo-tuh-thai-own), glutathione being the master antioxidant in the human body. The chemical pathway for glutathione is N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) à cysteine à glutathione.
NAC’s presence in garlic has been confirmed. So, it could be said that NACs first use was as a component of dietary garlic that preceded its use as a synthetically produced drug molecule in 1963. But certainly, the first use of synthetically-made NAC was for a disease – bronchitis.
An FDA lawyer says: “We do not favor anybody. We read the law. We look at facts, not favoring one commodity over another, and we make our determinations.” But the FDA may have another motive for its timing to take NAC off store shelves.
NAC supplements don’t claim they treat diseases
NAC is marketed today without any disease claims so, what is the big stink over?
It’s about NAC curing COVID-19. In its overcommitment to vaccination to quell infectious diseases, the FDA appears to be hiding behind its own regulations on behalf of vaccine and drug makers who are allowed to market their experimental vaccines under emergency use provisions of the law given that COVID-19 allegedly threatens the life of every human being on the planet.
The regulatory statute that authorizes emergency use of vaccines carries with it the caveat that as long as “there are no adequate approved and available alternatives.” NAC may just be such an alternative that would block emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines.
These first of a kind coronavirus vaccines are reported to be 95+% effective at preventing symptomatic infection, but that is only among those who are exposed and infected. Since less than 1% of any population is infected at any given time, that is 95% of one-percent effectiveness. Ninety-nine people have to be immunized to prevent 1 infection. Actually it is more like 1 in 1000 for COVID-19
The presumption is that all vulnerable unvaccinated individuals will eventually be exposed and infected by COVID-19 and will develop antibodies upon future infection. But that is called natural immunity, something the medical community ignores.
Rather than enhance the immune system with essential vitamins A, C, D, and trace minerals zinc and selenium, pharmaceutical companies want to artificially intervene and introduce their patented antibody-provoking vaccines. There are three problems with that approach.
A problem with this approach is that COVID-19 is rapidly mutating,
just like influenza viruses, which renders these RNA-targeted vaccines
useless. There is not adequate data to show the COVID-19 vaccines now in use address variant strains of the virus.
The B-I-G problem is that vaccine-induced antibody levels that
neutralize COVID-19 viral infection are reduced in adults age 45 to 60
when compared with younger subjects. Neutralizing antibody drugs are
under development and may help those who don’t respond to COVID-19
vaccines, but until they gain regulatory approval, NAC is proposed to
fill the therapeutic gap.
Because it has been found that T-cells, not antibodies, control
COVID-19 infection long-term, NAC becomes more attractive because of its
ability to raise T-cell counts via its ability to increase glutathione levels. Furthermore, NAC activates a type of white blood cell (natural killer cells) that kills virally infected cells.
Hence, the idea to use NAC. A report published in the British Medical Journal advocates NAC’s use at least as an adjuvant (secondary, auxiliary) treatment.
How Do You Spell Versatile? Try N-A-C
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is one of the most versatile of all dietary supplements, and is used in both conventional and complementary medicine. It is a potent antioxidant and a precursor to glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant made by the body. NAC is also a rich source of sulfur, a mineral needed to make some vitamins, hormones, and tissue.
NAC is used in conventional medicine for two primary reasons. It is used in every hospital to treat acetaminophen, or Tylenol®, overdose. Large amounts of acetaminophen deplete the liver’s store of glutathione, which is needed to detoxify hazardous chemicals. Without glutathione, the liver itself will quickly break down. NAC restores glutathione levels and normal liver function. Hospitals also often use NAC to break up mucous in the lungs and to improve breathing. While it has been used for years in conventional medicine, over the past several years it has become popular as a supplement.
I first read about NAC in 1997 when Italian doctors showed that NAC supplements suppressed flu symptoms in seniors. In the study, Silvio De Flora, MD, of the University of Genoa, and his colleagues asked 262 patients to take either 600 mg of NAC or placebos twice daily for six months over the wintertime cold-and-flu season. Few of the subjects taking NAC developed flu symptoms, even though blood tests confirmed they were infected. When subjects did develop symptoms, they were generally mild among people taking NAC, compared with those who were taking placebos.1 NAC controlled the respiratory symptoms of the flu and, through its conversion to glutathione, boosted the body’s ability to fight infection.
Other studies support the broad benefits of NAC in fighting infections. A Stanford University study of AIDS patients found that those patients taking several grams of NAC daily lived significantly longer than those who declined to take the supplement.2 Meanwhile, a study in Sweden showed that people taking NAC took 38 percent fewer sick days because of chronic bronchitis, compared with those who took placebos.3
Diverse Health Benefits
In addition to being a potent infection-fighter, NAC provides an array of other physical and mental health benefits.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
An estimated 10 percent of women of childbearing age have polycystic ovary disease (PCOS). The condition is often diagnosed while trying to identify a cause for infertility. PCOS is characterized by enlarged cystic ovaries, high levels of male hormones, obesity, elevated insulin levels, and pre-diabetic insulin resistance. Doctors at the Trakya University School of Medicine, Turkey, treated 20 women with PCOS, giving them 600 mg of NAC daily for four weeks. The women benefited from a 58 percent decrease in blood testosterone levels, as well as about a onethird decrease in insulin resistance.4 An earlier study, published by Italian researchers, also found that NAC reduced insulin levels and insulin resistance.
Just as NAC restores liver function after acetaminophen overdose, it also helps the body eliminate toxic pesticides and mercury. Recently, doctors in Turkey described their use of NAC in the treatment of a patient with endosulfan overdose. Endosulfan is a neurotoxic organochlorine pesticide used on farms in the United States and other countries. The patient was hospitalized with convulsions and elevated liver enzymes, a sign of liver damage. After several days of high-dose NAC treatment, he was released in good health from the hospital.5 Another study, conducted at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York, showed that supplemental NAC accelerated the excretion of mercury from various organs in laboratory rats. The researchers said that “NAC may be an excellent agent for enhancing methylmercury elimination in exposed individuals.” 6
Addiction Disorders. There’s growing evidence that NAC may help reduce obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction disorders. The theory is that NAC increases brain levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that the body converts to gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA). In a recent report, Jon E. Grant, MD, of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, described three patients with various pathological behaviors, including nail biting, hair pulling, or skin picking. Their OCD behavior ceased after taking 1,200 to 2,400 mg of NAC daily. Grant has also reported that daily NAC supplements can reduce obsessive-compulsive gambling within a matter of weeks.7
There’s growing evidence that NAC may help reduce obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction disorders. The theory is that NAC increases brain levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that the body converts to gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA). In a recent report, Jon E. Grant, MD, of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, described three patients with various pathological behaviors, including nail biting, hair pulling, or skin picking. Their OCD behavior ceased after taking 1,200 to 2,400 mg of NAC daily. Grant has also reported that daily NAC supplements can reduce obsessive-compulsive gambling within a matter of weeks. vii
Several studies have shown that NAC, taken at 600 mg four times daily, can reduce the desire for cocaine, as well as psychological responses to cocaine-related paraphernalia. A study completed at the Medical University of South Carolina found NAC to be effective in treating cocaine addiction. “For the 16 subjects who completed the study, nine subjects terminated use of cocaine completely during the medication phase, five subjects substantially decreased their use, and two demonstrated no change in cocaine use,” wrote Pascale N. Mardikian, MD, one of the lead researchers. 8 9 It is believed that NAC helps regulate levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
People undergoing angioplasty, a heart procedure, have a high risk of developing kidney complications. That’s because doctors inject a mildly radioactive dye, which generates free radicals and constricts blood vessels in the kidneys. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that a combination of oral and intravenous NAC significantly reduced the risk of kidney complications after angioplasty. Other research also points to NAC’s ability to heal kidney damage.
NAC is a standout supplement for preventing the cold and flu, maintaining normal liver detoxifying capabilities, reversing at least some of the symptoms of PCOS, treating addiction disorders, and protecting the kidneys. It is beneficial in so many ways that I sometimes describe NAC as a nutritional “tonic.” Given its benefits, NAC is certainly worth including in any dietary supplement regimen. Aside from having a sulfur-like odor, NAC supplements are safe in high doses. Take 500 to 600 mg daily, doubling the dose during the cold and flu season. On the first day of cold or flu symptoms, you can increase the dose up to 4,000 mg daily to reduce symptoms. (After the first day, any cold or flu remedy will be less effective because viral concentrations have increased.) For PCOS, take 600 mg three times daily. For obsessive-compulsive disorder, take 600 mg daily, increasing dose to 3,000 mg daily over six weeks. To prevent kidney damage, work with your doctor, but a medical journal reported that 1,200 mg intravenously, followed by 1,200 mg orally, twice daily was helpful.
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