N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine. NAC. Very prevalent in today’s supplement game, what are the effects behind the name?

NAC is the supplement form of Cysteine, a semi-essential amino acid produced in low amounts by the body. Cysteine and NAC are essential to produce the antioxidant Glutathione, the most potent antioxidant in your body. Glutathione is essential for immune health and is known to combat free radicals in the body.[1] It has also been known to combat infertility and heart disease caused by oxidative damage[2]

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine has also made its way to the medical emergency world. NAC is used to help combat Acetaminophen overdoses and prevent the damage caused by them. Acetaminophen is metabolized into N-Acetyl-P-Benzoquinone Imine (NAPQI) which can harm the liver, but is bound to Glutathione and changes to Cysteine and Mercapturic Acid conjugates. If too much NAPQI is built up, it will not have sufficient Glutathione to bind to, causing serious damage. Supplementing with NAC boosts Glutathione levels, thus protecting the liver.[3]

Glutamate is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain. Saying that, you do not want an overload of Glutamate in your brain, as excess Glutamate combined with a lack of Glutathione can be linked to brain damage. N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is irreplaceable as a regulator of Glutamate levels and is essential to produce Glutathione, as stated earlier. Regulating these transmitters, NAC has been shown to improve symptoms of OCD, addiction, and Schizophrenia.[4]

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is primarily known for its respiratory benefits. Its antioxidant properties help reduce inflammation, especially in the bronchial tree. Those effects make it useful in alleviating symptoms of Bronchitis. It has also been commonly known as an expectorant, loosening and thinning mucus buildup in the lungs. NAC has been used to alleviate symptoms of COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The antioxidant properties reduce oxidative damage and inflammation caused by the disease.[5]

NAC benefits not only your physical health, but also your mental health. N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine regulates Glutamate, an essential neurotransmitter responsible for many behaviors, memory, and learning actions. Having healthy levels of this neurotransmitter is important, but overloading Glutamate can have negative effects on the mind. NAC maintains healthy levels of glutamate, while also supplementing the mind with Glutathione, reducing oxidative stress brought on by aging. As Glutathione reduces oxidative stress, It can been beneficial for those with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.[6]

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine has also shown to improve fertility. A primary cause of infertility in men is caused by free radicals enlarging the veins in the scrotum. The antioxidant provided by NAC, Glutathione, helps combat free radicals. NAC helps with fertility in females with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, by augmenting or inducing their ovulation cycles.[7]

NAC has shown to improve heart and cardiovascular health, especially by combatting oxidative damage caused by heart disease, as it is the precursor to potent antioxidants. It also boosts Nitric Oxide, bringing blood flow up.[8] Interestingly enough, combining Green Tea with taking NAC can reduce the oxidization damage done by bad LDL cholesterol.[9]

A lesser-known fact about N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is that it some studies done on its effect on cancer cells. In some TEST TUBE STUDIES, NAC has been linked with cancer cell death and reduced cancer cell growth.[10]Do not switch off cancer treatments for NAC, consult your doctor first before making any decisions.

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is a powerful supplement, useful for many applications. Remember to always keep your health in mind while taking supplements, and to not rely solely on them if you have a serious medical problem. Do not switch off cancer treatments for NAC, consult your doctor first before making any decisions. Do not take NAC if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinners, as it may slow blood clotting.


[1] Ghezzi, P. (2011, January 25). Role of glutathione in immunity and inflammation in the lung. International journal of general medicine. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from 

[2] Šalamon, Š., Kramar, B., Marolt, T. P., Poljšak, B., & Milisav, I. (2019, April 28). Medical and dietary uses of N-Acetylcysteine. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland). Retrieved December 7, 2021, from 

[3] Heard, K. J. (2008, July 17). Acetylcysteine for acetaminophen poisoning. The New England journal of medicine. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from 

[4] Ooi, S. L., Green, R., & Pak, S. C. (2018, October 22). N-acetylcysteine for the treatment of psychiatric disorders: A review of current evidence. BioMed research international. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from 

[5] Sadowska, A. M., Verbraecken, J., Darquennes, K., & De Backer, W. A. (2006). Role of N-acetylcysteine in the management of COPD. International journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from 

[6] Smeyne, M., & Smeyne, R. J. (2013, September). Glutathione metabolism and parkinson's disease. Free radical biology & medicine. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from 

[7] S;, B. A. S. O. A. (n.d.). N-acetyl cysteine and clomiphene citrate for induction of ovulation in polycystic ovary syndrome: A cross-over trial. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from 

[8] Efrati, S. H. A. I., Dishy, V., Averbukh, M., Blatt, A., Krakover, R., Weisgarten, J., Morrow, J. D., Stein, M. C., & Golik, A. (2003, December 1). The effect of N-acetylcysteine on renal function, nitric oxide, and oxidative stress after angiography. Kidney International. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from 

[9] Tambini, R. (2021, June 4). You oughtta know: The benefits of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). Makers Nutrition. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from 

[10] Šalamon, Š., Kramar, B., Marolt, T. P., Poljšak, B., & Milisav, I. (2019, April 28). Medical and dietary uses of N-Acetylcysteine. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from 


Back to blog