NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine)

NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) is the more easily absorbed and useful form of the amino acid cysteine. Your liver needs cysteine to detoxify acetaldehyde, a by-product of alcohol metabolism that is more toxic than alcohol itself. Your liver also needs glutathione, an all purpose antioxidant and detoxifier that is not only produced in the liver, but has also been studied as a liver protectant.

Unfortunately, the liver's store of glutathione quickly runs out when larger amounts of alcohol enter the system. This causes acetaldehyde to build up in the body. This produces such unpleasant side effects that there is actually a drug called Disulfiram used to treat alcoholism by replicating this build up's effect.

NAC can help with hangovers because it synthesizes glutathione.[1] Studies suggest NAC, taken with Thiamine (Vitamin B1), can be used to prevent and relieve hangover symptoms.[2]

Even though purified glutathione is available as a dietary supplement, absorption is low, and NAC is thought to be superior for boosting cellular glutathione levels.

NAC has also been shown to be effective at treating liver failure from causes such as hepatitis and other drug toxicity.[3] NAC may also protect lung tissue through its antioxidant activity.[4]

Ingredient Research
1. Jaya DS, Augstine J, Menon VP. Protective role of N-acetylcysteine against alcohol and paracetamol induced
    toxicity. Indian J Clin Biochem. 1994;9:64–71.
2. Sprince, Herbert; Parker, Clarence M.; Smith, George G.; Gonzales, Leon J. (1974), "Protection against
    Acetaldehyde Toxicity in the rat by L-cysteine, thiamin and L-2-Methylthiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid", Inflam. Res. 4
    (2): 125–30.
3. Ben-Ari Z, Vaknin H, Tur-Kaspa R. N-acetylcysteine in acute hepatic failure (non-paracetamol-induced).
    Hepatogastroenterology 2000;47:786–9.
4. Van Schayck CP, Dekhuijzen PNR, Gorgels WJMJ, et al. Are anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory treatments effective
    in different subgroups of COPD? A hypothesis. Respir Med 1998;92:1259–64.

Additional Resources