What is NAC (N-acetyl Cysteine) & Why should I take it?

  • by Michele Scarce

N-acetyl Cysteine or NAC - what the hell is it and why do I need it?

Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid which the body can technically make itself if given the adequate raw materials - so why would we need to supplement with it?

Cysteine goes on to form glutathione, arguably the most powerful antioxidant in the body, it assists with respiratory health, being a great ally in the fight against COVID, supports fertility and brain health.

"...glutathione, arguably the most powerful antioxidant in the body..."

Lets break this down a little further. Every cell in the body requires glutathione to help it detoxfy and clear waste and toxins. If we all lived the healthiest of lives in the cleanest of environments then a healthy protein rich diet would be enough to serve us. These days however it is a different story. Mould from water damage, yeast overgrowth following antibiotic use, chemicals and toxins from skin care, cleaning products, workplace exposure, traffic,medications, supermarket aisles, not to mention so much of our food being wrapped in plastics…

"Every cell in the body requires glutathione to help it detoxfy and clear waste and toxins."

We live in a toxic world and even with out best effort to minimise exposure, complete avoidance is somewhat impossible. This puts a huge load of pressure on our liver and kidneys to detoxify and rid the body of these chemicals. The occurrence of chronic disease within our society however suggests our bodies are losing the war.

NAC provides the body with the raw material it needs to support glutathione production ensuring it is not being robbed from other vital areas of the body.

"We live in a toxic world and even with out best effort to minimise exposure..."

This lack of glutathione has other potential problems when it comes to the brain and con contribute to mental health conditions such ranging from OCD to bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety or even substance abuse. Through assisting with glutathione production while also helping to regulate glutamate activity in the brain NAC can help to overcome some of these issues showing to reduce cravings, social withdrawal and relapse.

Moving onto the respiratory system, NAC is known as a mucolytic, able to thin and decrease levels of mucous in the sinus and chest. This has shown to benefit people with bronchitis, COPD, COVID and of course the common cold reducing congestion, wheezing and general snot levels. Glutathione also play a role in immune defence so early supplementation can reduce risk of serious illness in the first place.

From a hormonal perspective NAC has also shown to help boost fertility, in men and women, stabilise blood sugar and aid insulin resistance and support treatment of obesity. The antioxidant action also makes it a great support in prevention of heart disease and other cardiovascular complaints.

NAC has a very high safety profile though as always I recommend working with a practitioner when it comes to dosing correctly, especially when treating more serious conditions. It is a solid part of my daily health routine and I highly encourage others to explore the benefits too.


- Rowena Benbow (In-house Naturopath)


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