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NAC, or N-acetyl cysteine comes from the amino acid L-cysteine, which is a semi-essential amino acid because your body can produce it from other amino acids, (methionine and serine), if needed.
L-Cysteine is found in most high-protein foods, like chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, and eggs.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplemental form of cysteine, and is important for a number of health reasons — particularly in forming glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body.
N-acetyl cysteine is most commonly used by mouth for cough and other lung conditions. Some also use it for the flu, dry eye, and other conditions. Doctors can give N-acetyl cysteine by IV when someone has overdosed on acetaminophen (Paracetamol), it acts by binding the poisonous forms of acetaminophen that are formed in the liver. It is also an antioxidant, and may play a role in cancer prevention.
In inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) play the important role in controlling the function and migration of immune cells, chemokine activity, matrix deposition and degradation
In fact, increased levels of MMPs found in inflamed tissue of IBD may be responsible for the ulceration and fistula formation.
NAC, in conjuction with other standard treatments has shown positive effects in Ulcerative Colitis, when compared to a control group. NAC has also shown dual action as an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in animal models of colitis.
My Experience with NAC
In my experience with taking NAC, I have seen mild improvements in Crohn’s symptoms, certainly nothing dramatic. What I have seen while taking NAC has been a very noticeable feeling of improvement in overall health and energy levels, and better immunity – less colds/viruses, and usually a shorter duration if I have had them. It has been particularly useful when having any sort of chest infection.
There is no recommended daily allowance for NAC, as it is not an essential nutrient, and can be made by the body.
Oral doses above 1200 mg per day can result in headache, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.
NAC may slow blood clotting so should be avoided if taking medication that thins the blood.
NAC has quite a strong sulphureous type smell and taste making it difficult to take for some.