N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine boosts dopamine

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)

David Tomen
Author:
David Tomen
Jill Corleone, RD
Fact Checked:
Jill Corleone, RD
14 minute read
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is a powerful anti-oxidant, can boost mood, lower anxiety, improve memory, and reduce compulsive behavior

Key Takeaways

  1. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is a powerful antioxidant that restores glutathione levels in the body and brain, helping maintain oxidative balance in cells.

  2. NAC has neuroprotective properties, reducing inflammation, oxidative damage, and modulating glutamate levels and dopamine release, positively impacting cognition, memory, and mood.

  3. NAC shows potential in treating serious cognitive disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and anxiety by boosting glutathione and dopamine levels in the brain.

  4. NAC can reduce oxidative stress, eliminate free radicals, rejuvenate dopamine receptors, and enhance cognitive function when taken as a supplement.

  5. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) dosage recommendation is 500 mg, 3-times per day

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC or N-acetylcysteine) is the N-acetyl derivative of the naturally occurring amino acid L-cysteine. And works primarily by helping restore the body’s natural antioxidant glutathione (γ-glutamylcysteinylglycine; GSH).

As the most abundant antioxidant in your body, GSH is responsible for maintaining oxidative balance in each of your cells.

I have been using 500 mg NAC 3-times per day and every day for the last decade and it is one of my favorite supplements.

Taking glutathione as a nootropic supplement does not adequately restore GSH levels in your brain because it can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. This vastly underrated nootropic, NAC easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier and raises glutathione levels in your brain.[i]

NAC has been used to treat acetaminophen poisoning for decades.[ii] Every year there are 56,000 ER visits from Tylenol overdose, resulting in at least 100 deaths. [iii] NAC provides the glutathione your liver needs to fight off the metabolite NAPQI in Tylenol that does severe liver damage.

Studies show that as a nootropic, NAC helps prevent glutamate toxicity, boosts dopamine, and reduces inflammation, oxidative and free radical damage.

Where to buy: one of the only vendors still selling NAC and I highly recommend them: Life Extension – NAC

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine helps:

  • Neuroprotection. NAC as a precursor of glutathione, is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenger.[iv] Your brain is especially vulnerable to inflammation, free radical and oxidative damage. Affecting cognition, long-term potentiation, memory and mood.
  • Neurotransmitters. NAC modulates glutamate levels and dopamine release in the brain. Excess glutamate in your brain is toxic to brain cells affecting neuron health, cognition, memory and mood. And NAC protects dopamine receptors. Influencing dopamine levels and function in your brain. Even protecting dopaminergic nerve terminals from chronic methamphetamine use.[v]
  • Anxiety and depression. NAC reduces irritability, anxiety and depression. NAC increases your body’s antioxidant capacity, and balances excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in your brain. Resulting in less anxiety and depression.

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is the N-acetyl form of the naturally occurring amino acid L-Cysteine.

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) chemical structure
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)

L-Cysteine is naturally produced in your body using the amino acid methionine. You can also get L-Cysteine from eating ricotta and cottage cheese, yogurt, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, wheat germ, granola and oat flakes.

But acute stress, illness, or a poor diet can deplete L-Cysteine levels in your body and brain. The quickest and most efficient way to boost levels of L-Cysteine is to supplement with N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC).

NAC regulates the amount of glutamate in your brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for sending signals between neurons in the brain. This plays an important role in learning and forming memories.

But too much glutamate can be toxic to brain cells. NAC regulates the amount of glutamate and keeps it at safe, healthy levels.

NAC influences the amount of dopamine available in your brain. It works to keep dopamine receptors healthy and able to transmit and receive dopamine. These neurotransmitters are crucial for cognitive energy and drive, motor control, feelings of pleasure, and focus.

NAC is a precursor to the powerful anti-oxidant glutathione (GSH). GSH is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger.

Your brain is especially vulnerable to inflammation, free radical and oxidative damage. If left unchecked, inflammation, oxidation and free radicals can negatively affect cognition, long-term potentiation, memory and mood.

As a nootropic, NAC can boost glutathione and dopamine levels in your brain. NAC is also used by medical professionals to treat serious cognitive disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression and anxiety.

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine boosts-brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)

How does N-Acetyl L-Cysteine work in the Brain?

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.

  1. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine reduces oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by free radical damage in brain immune cells. Leading to neurodegeneration and reducing brain health which can lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other age-related neuronal disorders. Proteins and DNA are injured, inflammation, tissue damage and cellular apoptosis (cell death) are the result.

And neurohackers are not immune to oxidative stress no matter what your age. Keep this in mind the next time you reach for a Diet Coke. Consumption of the artificial sweetener aspartame induces cortical inflammation and oxidative stress. And negatively affecting brain health.

Researchers did a study with 30 adult male Wistar rats randomly divided into 3 groups. The control group received distilled water. The second group was given aspartame. And the third group was given aspartame and NAC. Oral administration was done in the morning daily for 90 days.

The study found that NAC boosted Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels, blocked the COX-2 and PGE2 inflammatory enzymes, and reduced the expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) inflammatory cytokines in the rat cerebral cortex. They also found that NAC replenished glutathione levels.

The researchers concluded that NAC prevented neurotoxicity and improved neurological function, suppressed brain inflammation, and oxidative stress response.[vi]

  1. NAC relieves depression. Major depressive disorder is one of the most common psychiatric disorders. It’s a burden on the individual, family and the community. And the pharmaceutical companies are making literally billions on selling various anti-depressants. Not treating the cause, producing a host of side effects, and in most cases just ‘dumbing down’ the symptoms.

But the pipeline for new anti-depressant drug discovery is at a near stand-still for treating problems like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and common forms of autism.

The good news is that neuroscience continues to work on the problem. And have shown that many of these disorders share immune health issues such as inflammation and oxidative stress as part of their disease physiology.

Neuroscientists also discovered that associated pathways causing these diseases include a reduction in proteins that stimulate neuron growth (neurotrophins), increased apoptosis (cell death), and reduced energy generation in mitochondria.

It turns out that N-Acetyl Cysteine seems to have multiple effects on all these pathways. NAC reduces the core symptoms of schizophrenia, reduces depression, and reduces cravings for a number of addictions including cocaine, cannabis and tobacco.[vii]

How things go bad

As we get older or suffer from chronic illness, our brain and body chemistry and energy metabolism changes.N-Acetyl L-Cysteine relieves depression

↑ Oxidative stress in brain cells increase

↓ Free radicals damage neurons

↓ Dopamine receptors stop working

↑ Glutamate toxicity causes cell damage and apoptosis

↓ Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) declines

↓ Mitochondria energy declines

All of these changes are often attributed to chronic illness, lifestyle choices, and aging.

Unchecked, they could lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, major depression, schizophrenia, OCD, addictions, autism, and a drop in quality of life.

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine health benefits

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is a slightly modified version of the sulfur-containing amino acid L-Cysteine. When taken as a supplement, NAC can reduce oxidative stress by replenishing intracellular levels of the natural antioxidant glutathione (GSH). Restoring your cells’ ability to fight damage from reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Conventional medicine has used NAC for decades as an inhaled mucous thinner to treat symptoms of cystic fibrosis. Patients receive intravenous NAC (IV) or orally as a treatment for acute acetaminophen overdose poisoning. NAC quickly restores glutathione levels, averting permanent disability or death.

The nootropics community has recently discovered NAC as a way to suppress inflammation in the brain. NAC prevents oxidative stress on brain cells, eliminates free radicals, restores Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), rejuvenates dopamine receptors, and improves overall cognitive function.

NAC can help boost cognition, Long-Term Potentiation for long-term memory formation, short-term and working memory, improve your mood and quell anxiety.

How does N-Acetyl L-Cysteine feel?

Neurohackers report that supplementing with NAC could be the best nootropic they’ve ever used for their brain and overall health. Comments include:

  • Thinking is clearer (less brain fog)N-Acetyl L-Cysteine boosts the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine
  • Memory improves
  • Concentration and attention improves
  • Less anxiety
  • Less depression
  • Less irritable
  • Mood improves (like a ‘clean high’)
  • Symptoms caused by ADHD meds disappear
  • Obsessive Compulsive behavior decreases
  • Sleep quality improves
  • Energy levels increase
  • Weight maintenance is easier
  • Less flu and colds
  • Skin looks better
  • Feel younger
  • Hangovers are less severe

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine Clinical Research

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine increases dopamine in Parkinson’s Disease

Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease are limited to replacing dopamine in the brain. As well as some medications designed to slow down the disease.

In 2016, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University showed that oxidative stress in the brain could play a critical role in the progression of Parkinson’s. And this stress lowers levels of glutathione, a compound produced in the brain to counteract oxidative stress.

Studies show that N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) helps reduce oxidative damage to neurons by helping restore the levels of the antioxidant glutathione.

In this study, Parkinson’s patients were placed into two groups. The first group received 50 mg/kg of an intravenous n acetyl cysteine (IV) once per week. And 600 mg of NAC as a supplement twice a day on non-IV days.

The second (control) group received only their standard Parkinson’s treatment. Patients were evaluated at the beginning of the study and again 3 months later.

The evaluation consisted of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), and a SPECT brain scan which measures the amount of dopamine transporter in the brain.

Compared to controls, the patients receiving NAC had significant improvements in their scores. One of the study authors said, “We have not previously seen an intervention for Parkinson’s disease have this kind of effect on the brain”. This study demonstrated for the first time the direct effect of NAC on the brain’s dopamine system. NAC has the unique ability to enable dopamine neurons to recover their function.[viii]

N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) alleviates symptoms related to Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

People suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience long-term oxidative damage and inflammation of lung tissue. And lack of oxygen to the brain can have a severe impact on memory.

In addition, any chronic lung disease, such as bronchitis, can cause airways to constrict. This inflammation may lead to shortness of breath or coughing. Research suggests that taking the potent antioxidant N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), dietary supplements can help improve symptoms related to COPD, chronic bronchitis, and its complications, and improve lung function.

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine repairs Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health issue affecting 69 million people worldwide each year.[ix] TBI can be caused by sports injuries, work accidents, car and motorcycle accidents, falls, and your wife hitting you over the head with a frying pan.

Many survivors end up with long-term or even permanent neurocognitive dysfunction. Affecting cognition, motor function (movement) and personality. These disabilities are estimated to cost $26 billion in lifetime medical costs and $631 billion in quality of life lost.[x]

A major cause of TBI comes from blast exposure on the battlefield. Symptoms are similar to other causes of TBI; dizziness, hearing loss, headache, memory loss, sleep issues, and neurocognitive dysfunction.

In a brain subjected to TBI there is glutamate toxicity, free-radical injury to brain cells, electrolyte imbalances, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, apoptosis (cell death) and stroke.[xi][xii]N-Acetyl L-Cysteine is used to treat Traumatic Brain Injury

This double blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted with 81 active duty service members at a forward deployed field hospital in Iraq. All service members in this study were exposed to significant ordinance blast and met the criteria for TBI.

Service members were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) for 7 days. The resolution after 7 days of all the TBI symptoms listed above was the main outcome measure of this study.

The researchers concluded that NAC was a safe pharmaceutical countermeasure of blast-induced TBI. And that further work on long term outcomes and the potential use of NAC in civilian TBI is warranted.[xiii]

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine helps alleviate depression

Both depression and bipolar disorder are complicated by glutathione depletion. The researchers in this double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled study worked with 75 subjects with bipolar disorder.

Subjects received 1 gram of NAC twice daily for 24 weeks. NAC treatment caused a significant improvement with depression with those using NAC.

The researchers concluded, “NAC appears a safe and effective augmentation strategy for depressive symptoms”. In this case with people suffering from bipolar disorder.[xiv]

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine Recommended Dosage

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine dosage recommendationsN-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) suggested dosage for cognitive benefit is 500 mg 3-times per day.

Clinical studies have found that doses up to 2,000 mg per day are safe and effective.

And one German study showed the safety of 2,800 mg per day for 3 months in patients with cystic fibrosis.[xv]

NAC has also proven effective against seasonal influenza and flu-like illnesses. One large study of older adults in Italy took 600 mg of NAC twice daily for 6 months. Only 25% of those adults who used NAC experienced flu-like episodes compared to 79% in the placebo group.[xvi]

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine Side Effects

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is the N-acetyl form of one of the naturally occurring amino acids of the body, L-Cysteine.

NAC is a slightly modified version of the sulfur-containing amino acid L-Cysteine. So NAC in powder form can have an unpleasant smell.

Very rarely can NAC cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Even more rare are rashes, fever, headache, drowsiness, low blood pressure and liver problems.

Side effects can be a result of very high doses of NAC. And if you have a genetic condition called Cystinuria do not use NAC. This rare condition causes stones to form in the kidneys, ureter and bladder from cysteine. NAC is the N-Acetyl form of Cysteine.

One study has also found that long-term use of high-dose NAC can deplete your body’s stores of zinc. So if you are using NAC everyday you should also supplement with zinc and low dose copper.

Where to buy N-Acetyl L-Cysteine

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is available in powder, tablet and capsule form. NAC capsules and tablets were usually 500 mg.

Where to buy: I highly recommend: Life Extension – NAC

NAC was in short supply because on July 23, 2020, the FDA sent a warning letter to Purple Biosciences LLC about its NAC product. And asserted that NAC was illegally sold as a dietary supplement because it was approved as a drug September 14, 1963.  Several other letters were sent to supplement manufacturers. Resulting in NAC being difficult to find on Amazon or many of the other sites that used to sell NAC.

Several lawsuits were filed against the FDA. And NAC has since become easier to find in the supplements sections of online stores.

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) 500 mg, 3-times per day

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedI highly recommend using N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) as a nootropic supplement.

Your body does synthesize some L-Cysteine from methionine. And you can get L-Cysteine from foods such as dairy, poultry, pork, and some grains and nuts.

But most of us don’t get enough N-Acetyl L-Cysteine from our diet. So supplementation will help. And N-Acetyl L-Cysteine is a highly bioavailable form of L-Cysteine. So you should feel its effects faster.

NAC is helpful for most neurohackers to improve mood, memory, cognition, and concentration. And NAC helps alleviate brain fog, anxiety, and irritability.

NAC is especially helpful to those dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And stacked with ADHD meds, NAC helps alleviate some of the negative side effects associated with stimulants.

If you can still find it, you can safely use up to 1,800 mg of NAC per day. The usual dose for cognitive improvement is 500 mg dosed 3 times throughout your day.

I recommend N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) from : Life Extension – NAC

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Neuwelt E.A., Pagel M.A., Hasler B.P., Deloughery T.G., Muldoon L.L. “Therapeutic efficacy of aortic administration of N-acetylcysteine as a chemoprotectant against bone marrow toxicity after intracarotid administration of alkylators, with or without glutathione depletion in a rat model.” Cancer Research. 2001 Nov 1;61(21):7868-74 (source)

[ii] Scalley R.D., Conner C.S. “Acetaminophen poisoning: a case report of the use of acetylcysteine.” American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy. 1978 Aug;35(8):964-7. (source)

[iii] Neergaard L. “Most Popular painkiller is lead cause of acute liver failure” National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project natap.org Dec. 25, 2005 retrieved June 17, 2016 (source)

[iv] Eakin K., et. Al. “Efficacy of N-Acetyl Cysteine in Traumatic Brain Injury” PLoS One. 2014; 9(4): e90617. (source)

[v] Hashimoto K., Tsukada H., Nishiyama S., Fukumoto D., Kakiuchi T., Shimizu E., Iyo M. “Effects of N-acetyl-L-cysteine on the reduction of brain dopamine transporters in monkey treated with methamphetamine.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2004 Oct;1025:231-5. (source)

[vi] Saleh A.A.S. “Anti-neuroinflammatory and antioxidant effects of N-acetyl cysteine in long-term consumption of artificial sweetener aspartame in the rat cerebral cortex” The Journal of Basic & Applied Zoology Volume 72, October 2015, Pages 73–80 (source)

[vii] European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP). “Amino acid offers potential therapeutic alternative in psychiatric disorders.” Science Newsline Medicine sciencenewsline.com October 7, 2013 Retrieved June 18, 2016 (source)

[viii] Monti D.A., Zabrecky G., Kremens D., Lian T.W., Wintering N.A., Cai J., Wei X., Bazzan A.J., Zhong L., Bowen B., Intenzo C.M., Iacovitti L., Newberg A.B. “N-Acetyl Cysteine May Support Dopamine Neurons in Parkinson’s Disease: Preliminary Clinical and Cell Line Data.” PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (6): e0157602 (source)

[ix] Dewan M.C., Rattani A., Gupta S., Baticulon R.E., Hung Y., Punchak M. Agrawal A., Adeleye A.O., Shrime M.G., Rubiano A., Rosenfeld J.V., Park K.B. “Estimating the global incidence of traumatic brain injury” Journal of Neurosurgery Volume 130; Issue 4 (Apr 2019) (source)

[x] “Traumatic Brain Injury” A Roadmap for Accelerating Progress 2022 Chapter 2 National Academies Press (source)

[xi] Yi J.H., Hazell A.S. “Excitotoxic mechanisms and the role of astrocytic glutamate transporters in traumatic brain injury.”Neurochemistry International. 2006 Apr;48(5):394-403 (source)

[xii] Farkas O., Povlishock J.T. “Cellular and subcellular change evoked by diffuse traumatic brain injury: a complex web of change extending far beyond focal damage.” Progress in Brain Research. 2007;161:43-59. (source)

[xiii] Hoffer M.E., Balaban C., Slade M.D., Tsao J.W., Hoffer B. “Amelioration of acute sequelae of blast induced mild traumatic brain injury by N-acetyl cysteine: a double-blind, placebo controlled study.”PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54163. (source)

[xiv] Berk M., Copolov D.L., Dean O., Lu K., Jeavons S, Schapkaitz I., Anderson-Hunt M., Bush A.I. “N-acetyl cysteine for depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder–a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Biological Psychiatry. 2008 Sep 15;64(6):468-75 (source)

[xv] Dauletbaev N., Fischer P., Aulbach B., Gross J., Kusche W., Thyroff-Friesinger U., Wagner T.O., Bargon J. “A phase II study on safety and efficacy of high-dose N-acetylcysteine in patients with cystic fibrosis.” European Journal of Medical Research. 2009 Aug 12;14(8):352-8. (source)

[xvi] De Flora S., Grassi C., Carati L. “Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetyl cysteine treatment”. The European Respiratory Journal. 1997 Jul;10(7):1535-41. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 518 comments

Jim Russell
June 23, 2018

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the spring of 2012. I have also been diagnosed as bi-polar for myears. At the time of my Parkinson’s diagnosis my psychiatrist recommended I start tacking NAC. I started at the dosage of 600mg a day.

I live in a small city west of Memphis in Arkansas. On three occasions since my diagnosis and most recently in April of this year I temporarily stopped taking it due to my failure to travel to my source in Memphis.

Each time I ceased taking NAC my Parkinson’s symptoms got noticeably worse. This linkage really did not connect with me till this most recent period. During the most recent period I had moments when I could hardly walk. Each time I have restarted the NAC my Parkinson’s symptoms got better.

After this last period l found a source for 1,000mg tablets on Amazon. I started taking one tablet a day. Within a week my symptoms returned to the status before cessation. I then noticed the that the bottle said I could take up to 3 tablets a day. That would be 3,000mg a day. It seems that since I started this regimen my symptoms have been remarkably reduced. As you can tell I am in a more is better phase.

Do you think there is a danger in taking 3,000mg a day?

Can you recommend a source for the zinc and copper?

By the way my Bi-polar symptoms have gotten much better, too.

    David Tomen
    June 23, 2018

    Jim, you are another testament to the power of nootropic supplements. And your description of alleviation of symptoms just verified what I found in clinical trials when researching this article.

    I’ve been using 2,000 mg of NAC daily for years so you should not have any problems with 3,000 mg. But studies do show that long-term heavy usage of NAC depletes zinc.

    Please see this post I wrote on minerals for the brain and pay particular attention to the very last section: https://nootropicsexpert.com/13-minerals-essential-for-the-optimized-brain/.

    It’s critically important to use the correct form of these minerals. Find a “chelated” version, or one that is made using yeast. Albion minerals is a good source and any manufacturer who uses their minerals. Blue Bonnet comes to mind. You’re going to need more than the RDA so please check out the individual review for zinc here: https://nootropicsexpert.com/zinc/. And don’t forget about the copper!

Rebekah Higgins
June 15, 2018

When I first tried this I found it made me very angry and I am not typically at all, which is strange cause most say it has the opposite effect. I switched to a time released version that does not seem to have that anger effect on me and have been taking 600 2x per day for about 6 months. It does not have any noticeable effect so far either though. Do you know if the time release is a good thing for NAC or does it lower efficacy?

    David Tomen
    June 15, 2018

    Rebekah, NAC boosts dopamine levels which is likely what caused anger issues when you first tried it. If NAC is released slowly and you do not react it means that it didn’t ‘dump’ dopamine and norepinephrine into your system and cause a negative reaction.

    I think the most important function of NAC is boosting glutathione and increasing your antioxidant levels. While this will not produce any noticeable immediate sensation, you’ll likely find that you won’t get sick as often.

      Rebekah Higgins
      June 15, 2018

      thank you so much David. I will continue with the sustained release and increase dosage to 600 3x per day instead of 2 and see what happens. cheers.

Appy
June 11, 2018

Can i put NAC in my current stack: Alpha-Gpc, Bacopa Monnieri, vinpocetine, L-theanine and Ginkgo Biloba?

PS: current stack within recommended dosage. I alter the stack per convenience.

    David Tomen
    June 11, 2018

    Appy, you can definitely add NAC to your stack. Just follow the dosage recommendations for NAC in this review. Dosage instructions apply to everything else in your stack because each has a separate function in your brain. See dosage in each individual review.

C Gin
February 1, 2018

Hi David,
When I take NAC, I get what I call “brain burning.” This happens even at the smallest doses. Can you explain why? Thank you!

    David Tomen
    February 1, 2018

    NAC is a very potent method of increasing the major natural antioxidant in your system called glutathione. Antioxidants go after and eliminate reactive oxygen species (ROS). If your brain is low in oxidative stress (i.e. low ROS) then NAC could be too much for you at any dose.

    This is speculation on my part because you don’t mention the exact dose of NAC you are using, other medications or medical conditions.

    Here is a very comprehensive report on NAC > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967529/. Scroll down to the section called, “Pharmacokinetics and side effects” for more on possible NAC side effects.

Bhaskar
January 6, 2018

My son has symtoms of overfocussed ADD.Ihave given him L-Tyrosine 500& 5HTP50mg.He still has difficulty in focussing,has obsessive symtoms.Can I add NAC

    David Tomen
    January 6, 2018

    Bhaskar, NAC is likely an excellent choice for your son. I have Adult ADD and use NAC twice per day with great results.

    You did not mention if your son is using any ADD medications like Ritalin or Adderall. That could make a significant difference on which nootropic supplements may help him. Have you closely studied the post I did on ADD here? https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-adhd-add/

    The nootropics I mention in the ADD post have been proven to help reduce the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. They work for me and thousands of others with ADD and ADHD. Including coconut or MCT oil, DHA (Omega-3), ALCAR and NALT. The NALT in this case would replace the L-Tyrosine you are currently using.

    I also suggest re-thinking your choice of 5-HTP. Please read my review on 5-HTP including the side effects and my recommendations for alternatives > https://nootropicsexpert.com/5-htp/

    Mari
    July 20, 2019

    Hi David, I am considering getting this for my addict sister due to its liver protecting properties, as well as for the anxiety and depression that pushes her to drink and take drugs. One question I have is that NAC has been shown to be a mild chelator. Do you think it could have negative effects by moving mercury around her body? She has a huge amount of fillings and a terrible diet. Thank you

      David Tomen
      July 20, 2019

      Mari, I doubt the chelation effects of NAC are high enough to cause problems.

Jeanne
December 30, 2017

David, my son won’t take meds for his bipolar 2 disorder after he experienced bad effects from them. After tons of research, I recommended NAC 2000 per day and magnesium glycinate 400mg a day which he says is really helping with the racing thoughts, depression and spacing out the hypomania episodes. Is there any possibility NAC will stop working at some point? Or is there a supplement that could prevent that from happening? Thanks in advance!

    David Tomen
    December 31, 2017

    Jeanne, you cannot build a tolerance to NAC that I’m aware of. I’ve been using it every day for years with great results.

    Please use the search function top right on this page in quotes for “bipolar disorder” and “bipolar”. And see what turns up. And take close look at Lithium Orotate, zinc, CBD Oil, and possibly Methylene Blue among others.

    Start with the nootropic supplements you can easily get on places like Amazon or your local vitamin shop. Try one at a time and see how your son responds. You should see results within a day or two if it works. If it doesn’t then try the next one.

      Jeanne
      January 8, 2018

      Thank you, David. I have one more question; I’ve read that NAC can cause kidney stones when taken long term so it should be taken with equivalent or higher doses of vitamin C to prevent it. Do you agree?

        David Tomen
        January 8, 2018

        Jeanne, someone somewhere sounded the alarm about NAC and kidney stones. And once it was out there in the wild every blogger who does not do their research simply parrot what someone else said. I can find zero clinical evidence that N-Acetyl L-Cysteine causes kidney stones from long-term usage. If someone can point directly to that research I would appreciate it. And would love to update the potential side effects section of this review.

        One thing I did find since writing this review is the potential for long-term usage of NAC depleting zinc. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1529808. So if you are using NAC everyday and long-term you should also be supplementing with zinc and very low dose copper. I will update this review to include this research.

Mike Wisotsky MD
December 20, 2017

What do you think about “Milk Thistle” ? Recently, they have found that the silymarin in Milk Thistle, not only helps protect the liver, but more recently they found it reduces the inflammation in the lungs and can reverse some of the effects of Emphysema (COPD) and fibrosis ?

Do you know anything about this? Also the milk thistle from Life Extension or others like Dr. Mercola use it with N-Acetyl L Cysteine which protects the liver from alcohol and has a detoxifiying effect ? Can it also (either one also work on the endothelium of heart muscle in any beneficial way ?

    David Tomen
    December 20, 2017

    Dr. Wisotsky, I personally use Milk Thistle to help boost the absorption of Berberine. And it has been shown to help prevent possible telomere shortening/DNA damage caused by long-term Berberine use. I use Berberine to prevent insulin resistance.

    I have not done a review on Milk Thistle because Nootropics Expert is devoted primarily to brain health and optimization. But Milk Thistle has plenty of research for liver detox, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant benefits. In this case I defer to Life Extension, Dr. Mercola, and Examine.com for extolling all of Milk Thistle benefits.

Tammy
May 30, 2017

David, I am allergic to antibiotics that are made from sulfa.
I also get confused about the difference between sulfa and sulfur are they the same? I want to try NAC but I want to know if it could cause a allergic reaction.?Thanks

    David Tomen
    May 30, 2017

    Tammy, please read this page on Medscape on this subject. Specifically the 5th paragraph > http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/870347#vp_2.
    According to Medscape, cysteine is a sulfa-containing amino acid. And is not allergenic in patients with antimicrobial sulfonamide hypersensitivity. It also provides a link to the clinical study supporting this statement. Hope this helps.

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