N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is Available OTC or by Prescription in the United States.
Addictive Potential: None
Emergency Room Visits Yearly: No recorded hospital visits
Mandatory Minimum Sentence: None
Mechanism of Action: ??
Acetylcysteine, also known as N-acetylcysteine or N-acetyl-L-cysteine (abbreviated NAC), is a pharmaceutical drug used mainly as a mucolytic agent and in the management of paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdose.
Acetylcysteine is available in different dosage forms for different indications:
- Solution for inhalation (Mucomyst, Mucosil) – inhaled for mucolytic therapy or ingested for nephroprotective effect (to protect the kidneys)
- IV injection (Parvolex, Acetadote) – treatment of paracetamol/acetaminophen overdose
- Oral solution – various indications.
- Effervescent Tablets (200 mg) – Reolin (Hochland Pharma Germany) and Mucinac (Cipla India).
- Ocular solution – for mucolytic therapy
- The IV injection and inhalation preparations are, in general, prescription only, whereas the oral solution and the effervescent tablets are available over the counter in many countrie
NAC has been shown to reduce the symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in two placebo controlled trials.
Evidence that NAC and other antioxidants can exert beneficial effects on pancreatic b-cell function in diabetes was published in a 1999 study. The authors conclude that a sufficient supply of antioxidants (NAC, vitamin C plus vitamin E, or both) may prevent or delay b-cell dysfunction in diabetes by providing protection against glucose toxicity.
NAC is undergoing clinical trials in the United States for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is thought to counteract the glutamate hyperactivity in OCD.
NAC has been shown to reduce cravings associated with chronic cocaine use in a study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina.
It may reduce the incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations.
In the treatment of AIDS, NAC has been shown to cause a “marked increase in immunological functions and plasma albumin concentrations”. Albumin concentration are inversely correlated with muscle wasting (cachexia), a condition associated with AIDS.
An animal study indicates that acetylcysteine may decrease mortality associated with influenza.
There are claims that acetylcysteine taken together with vitamin C and B1 can be used to prevent and relieve symptoms of veisalgia (hangover following ethanol (alcohol) consumption). The claimed mechanism is through scavenging of acetaldehyde, a toxic intermediate in the metabolism of ethanol.
It has been shown to help women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) to reduce insulin problems and possibly improve fertility.