In lung diseases, acetylcysteine may improve lung functioning by thinning mucus. This is a result of its mukolytic properties. A mukolytic dissolves mucus and can help thin out excess mucus.
A doctor may prescribe acetylcysteine with other medicines. It has been used to improve the effectiveness of some therapies. It has also been used to or decrease the side effects of certain medications.
What is Acetylcysteine?
Acetylcysteine is a powerful antioxidant, a mucolytic agent, and an antidote for acetaminophen poisoning that can be used to support a variety of bodily processes.
Acetylcysteine has been indicated in the management of different chronic ailments including lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and certain psychiatric disorders. Acetylcysteine has been shown to have antiviral properties on viruses like the flu.
Acetylcysteine benefits the body by reducing free radicals and oxidative stress. Acetylcysteine is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione.
Acetylcysteine is a mukolytic agent that has been demonstrated to help aid lung functioning in persons suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic or pulmonary fibrosis, and interstitial lung disease.
It does this by helping the lungs thin mucus and clear secretions from the body. Dosage of acetylcysteine (also available as L-Acetyl-Cysteine) depends on its route of administration.
Over the counter, it is available in capsules ranging from 600mg to 1200mg. In hospital, it is administered intravenously and as inhalation solutions.
Acetylcysteine health benefits
- may reduce free radicals
- may be used to replete levels of glutathione in the body
- is a mukolytic agent that may help with clearance of mucus from the lungs
- is commonly used in the treatment of acetaminophen (also known as paracetomol) overdose.
- may correct cysteine depletion in certain conditions
- may modify viral activity in flu patients
Acetylcysteine - a powerful antioxidant
Acetylcysteine possesses strong antioxidant properties. This is because acetylcysteine is a prodrug to the powerful amino acid, glutathione. When acetylcysteine is converted to glutathione, the body can use it to reduce free radicals.
There are many factors that help give acetylcysteine its antioxidant effects. Acetylcysteine can help regulate nitric oxide production, aid in DNA synthesis and repair, and act on iron metabolism.
Acetylcysteine and psychiatric disorders
Acetylcysteine appears to exert beneficial efects in treating psychiatric disorders and neurological conditions such as epilepsy and autism. It may help reduce symptoms of depression in persons suffering from bipolar disorder.
One of the main ways acetylcysteine benefits psychiatric disorders is by working on two important neurotransmitters, glutamate and dopamine. Neurotransmitters help carry signals in the brain.
Acetylcysteine and the immune system
Studies have shown that acetylcysteine can have various effects on the functioning of the immune system. This is a result of acetylcysteine's role in the replication and movement of certain viruses throughout the body. These effects are especially helpful in patients with viral infections.
Acetylcysteine neutralizes toxins
Because of its antioxidant properties, acetylcysteine can be used to help reduce free-radicals by aiding the body in the synthesis of glutathione. Acetylcysteine is also used by doctors to treat toxic paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) overdose.
Who may benefit from taking a Acetylcysteine supplement?
- People looking to reduce free radicals with an antioxidant
- People with oxidative stress or high levels of homeocysteine or lipoprotein
- People suffering from the flu or other acute viral infections
- People managing various chronic and acute lung diseases like COPD, interstitial lung disease, bronchitis, and fibrosing alveolitis.
- People with psychiatric disorders
- People with certain types of epilepsy.
- People with disease of the liver, kidneys, or heart
Does Acetylcysteine have any side effects?
When used in inhaled preparations, acetylcysteine may cause swelling of the mouth, a runny nose, drowsiness, and chest tightness.
Acetylcysteine has not been evaluated for use during pregnancy. Therefore it should only be taken after consulting with your doctor.
Why take a Acetylcysteine supplement?
- To help to replenish low levels of glutathione
- To help managing the movement of mucus out of airways in various disorders of the lung
- To increase the effectiveness of some medications, or it may decrease unwanted side effects
- To help with the management chronic viral infections
- To help in cases of viral hepatitis, liver disease, and the flu.
Other names of Acetylcysteine
N-acetylcysteine, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (also called NAC), L-Acetyl-Cysteine, and Acetadote (intravenous).