Friday, November 28, 2008

N-acetyl-L-cysteine: use with hope, use with caution

N-acetyl-L-cysteine is an up and coming supplement, which is gaining popularity among body builders. What's interesting is that it's also showing promise as a natural antidepressant.

It makes sense that it would work for both, since NAC is an antioxidant. In the case of exercise, it helps to repair the damage created in the process of metabolizing energy to fuel the exercise. When it comes to depression, it helps to slow down the oxidative process that has been destroying neurons.

Other potential mental health issues it is showing promise for include: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It may also help with polycystic ovary syndrome, another issue I specialize in treating.

NAC is to be treated with respect, however. In mice, in large doses it has been found to increase blood pressure in the lungs and right ventricle of the heart, creating symptoms similar to what is seen in animals subjected to an oxygen-deprived environment for 3 weeks.

While this supplement may have some very useful potential, it is important to work with a professional who knows how to dose it in order to maximize your benefit from it without putting yourself at risk. The guy at the corner bodybuilding store, who makes more money, the more you use, is likely not this person. A registered dietitian with specific training ins sports nutrition is your better bet.

Ferreira FF, Biojone C, Joca SR, GuimarĂ£es FS. Antidepressant-like effects of N-acetyl-L-cysteine in rats. Behav Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;19(7):747-50

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