N-Acetyl Cysteine/nac

N-Acetyl Cysteine/NAC Benefits

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine. Health benefits come from the fact that Amino acids help the body build protein. NAC also provides excellent anti-oxidant support in the body.

Anti-oxidant Effect Explained

In NAC, an acetyl group (COCH3) is attached to the nitrogen atom in Cysteine. NAC is then a precursor in the formation Glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant in the body. The thiol (sulfhydryl) group gives Glutathione its antioxidant effects as it is able to reduce free radicals by donating electrons to bond with any unpaired electrons found in the body. Unpaired electrons are usually produced by the body in response to damage, illness and stress. Glutathione is stable even when it donates these electrons, hence it is an excellent antioxidant as it doesn't continue the chain effect of grabbing electrons. This is how all anti-oxidants work.

Health Benefits of N-Acetyl Cysteine

As well as its powerful anti-oxidant effect, NAC offers many other health benefits ranging from counteracting poison to remedying lung infections. For example, N-acetyl cysteine works to treat bronchitis, ear infections, help relieve hangover symptoms, help with symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease and heart disease, lower cholesterol, reduce cancer treatment side effects, help with polycystic ovary syndrome, increase immunity against certain strains of influenza, help increase energy and allow the body to recover faster after a sports injury. It may lessen symptoms of these diseases and also reduce common side effects from the medication used to treat these patients.

Psychiatric Conditions

It is also thought to help in various psychiatric conditions. So far results are looking very good for: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, depression, cocaine craving, smoking, and obsessive symptoms. It may also help with Autism, as this condition may be due to cysteine and related sulfur amino acids depletion.

Counteracting Poison

N-Acetyl cysteine is so powerful, in fact, that it works to help counteract acetaminophen poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning. Individuals exposed to certain heavy metals like cadmium, mercury or lead often take the medication to help counteract dangerous side effects of exposure.

The supplement also helps prevent an allergic reaction to x-ray dyes and phenytoin (which is an anti-seizure drug) and reduce the side effects of some cancer treatments.

Hospital Uses

Many hospitals use N-Acetyl Cysteine to prevent a crusting over of the windpipe after an individual has received a tracheotomy. In addition, doctors give the medication to those with heavy mucus in the lungs, such as cystic fibrosis or pneumonia patients.

Dosing and how to take

In general, health adults can take 600 mg tablets or capsules, twice daily as a health supplement to improve overall health and immunity. If only one dose is being taken, try to take at night time and on an empty stomach.

When taken as a health supplement for lung problems such as bronchitis or asthma, 200 mg twice a day is recommended.

Using N-Acetyl cysteine as a poison treatment should be performed by a doctor but is usually 140 mg, followed by several doses of 70 mg. Consult a doctor or call 911 immediately if you suspect that you or someone else has ingested dangerous doses of acetaminophen or any other substance.

If taking N-Acetyl cysteine for chest pain that does not go away during rest, take 600 mg three times daily and call your doctor. If the chest pain is sudden or severe, call 911 or head for the nearest hospital for assistance.

N-Acetyl cysteine can be given through an IV to help prevent kidney failure, reduce chest pain during a heart attack and to slow down organ failure. There is research to suggest that taking N-Acetyl cysteine may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack for kidney disease patients by as much as 40 percent.

Sometimes an inhaler sends the medication directly into the lungs to help treat asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, bronchitis or other lung conditions by reducing mucus in the lungs.

N-Acetyl Cysteine/NAC Herb Notes / Side Effects

Side Effects

While N-Acetyl cysteine is likely safe for most adults, there are possible side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and/or constipation. When inhaled as a medical treatment, side effects may include a runny nose, mouth swelling, drowsiness and/or the feeling of a tightening in the chest.

Because of insufficient medical studies on the effect on pregnant or nursing women, women who are pregnant or nursing should consult their physician before using N-Acetyl cysteine.

Be aware that the supplement may have a powerful, sour odor.


Do not use N-Acetyl cysteine with nitroglycerin, as this can cause the body’s blood flow to increase and the blood vessels to dilate. In addition, activated charcoal interacts with N-Acetyl cysteine if given at the same time to help prevent poisoning and may reduce the effectiveness of both treatments.

Important: Click Here to Read Our Disclaimer

Used This Herb? How Would You Rate It?

Current User Rating 8/10 Based On 55 Votes

Has N-Acetyl Cysteine/NAC Worked For You?

This page is not a wiki so it is not editable like Wikipedia, however we would like to hear your information and comments and sometimes incorporate these into the articles.

Click Here To Post a Comment
Allan 's avatar  Allan 30/11/2014 22:11

I was poisoned by carbon monoxide for nearly three years, but after about two years I started taking NAC, because I was lifting weights and cycling. I felt so much better it was amazing. I didn't know for almost two years later that NAC bonds with the CO preventing it from bonding to hemoglobin

Mimi 's avatar  Mimi 10/01/2014 00:40


1 person liked this.
Becky 's avatar  Becky 19/02/2014 19:25

How do I counteract the constipation from NAC?

Becky 's avatar  Becky 19/02/2014 19:23

how would I go about counteracting the constipation NAC causes?

Ely 's avatar  Ely 19/02/2014 02:39

I agree too bad my doc didn't know how to help me. NAC has been life saving. 3 years I went for anti-biotics for mild bronchitis. Since taking low dose NAC the last 2 years I haven't needed the doctor. Between teas, herbs, and NAC, my chest pain and phlegm has reduced drastically. Also so important for glutathione absorbtion.

JenB71 's avatar  JenB71 14/11/2013 17:38

Two years ago my total Cholesterol was 239 mg/dl and my Triglycerides were 143 mg/dl. I took NAC for 3 months and went for a repeat bloodtest. My Cholesterol dropped to 203 mg/dl and my Triglycerides dropped to 75 mg/dl!!! My LDL dropped a total of 43 points and my HDL increased by 2 points. I am so glad I heard about NAC. This really works and beats taking the Statins which cause numerous side effects. I have noticed no side effects from NAC. I also want to note that I did not change my diet very much at all during this time. Too bad the physicians don't tell us about these beneficial supplements!

View All N-Acetyl Cysteine/NAC Reviews and Comments