The maternal side of my family contains a history of severe mental illness. My maternal grandmother suffered from schizophrenia and died in a mental ward. My mother has been institutionalized repeatedly, suffering from a decades long battle with bipolar disorder.
My younger brother is a legitimate sociopath. He is not merely “dark triad.” He has actual antisocial personality disorder. He has no feelings of empathy or kindness or decency. Lacking the vision to rob banks or become a drug kingpin, he is currently free after spending 10 years in prison for shooting his one-armed drug dealer.
In other words, there’s some funny business in my DNA.
I used to get depressed and feel anxious. I never had full-on panic attacks, but I would have severe anxiety that would leave my brain spinning. My skin would break out in rashes.
I conquered this anxiety through two means, as anxiety and other mental illnesses have two components – physical and psychological.
The physical components of anxiety and depression come from a variety of sources – poor nutrition, lack of sunlight, excessive oxidative stress, high cortisol, and heavy metal poisoning.
N-Acetylcysteine (N-A-C) has been clinically proven to help treat symptoms of anxiety and depression.
N-Acetylcysteine is a powerful nootropic with still many unstudied benefits. N-A-C has been used by visionary doctors to help treat intractable depression and anxiety.
Why haven’t you heard about the magical effects of N-A-C? Simple. Go on Amazon and see how much a bottle of N-A-C costs.
My mom was on a $1,500 a month cocktail of drugs. No one would listen when I suggested they buy a $15 bottle of N-A-C. But the science is there.
See, N-acetyl cysteine for depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder–a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial (“NAC appears a safe and effective augmentation strategy for depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder.”) (PubMed.)
See also, N-acetyl cysteine as a glutathione precursor for schizophrenia–a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. (“These data suggest that adjunctive NAC has potential as a safe and moderately effective augmentation strategy for chronic schizophrenia.”) (PubMed.)
Why does N-A-C help treat depression?
Acetylcysteine is a glutathione precursor. That is, acetylcysteine is converted into glutathione.
Glutathione is an antioxidant that used by your liver to detox your body. Emergency rooms give high doses of NAC to patients that have overdosed with Tylenol.
- The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine (Amazon).
- Smash Chronic Fatigue: A Concise, Science-Based Guide to Help Your Body Heal, and Banish Fatigue Forever (Amazon).
Could mental illness be caused by toxins that your liver is unable to clear from your body, due to a glutathione deficiency?
That is not so far fetched, and in fact the cutting-edge of mental health research is on the role toxins and oxidative stress play in mental illness.
See, The efficacy of adjunctive N-acetylcysteine in major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (“These data implicate the pathways influenced by NAC in depression pathogenesis, principally oxidative and inflammatory stress and glutamate, although definitive confirmation remains necessary.”) (PubMed.)
See also, The Glutathione System: A New Drug Target in Neuroimmune Disorders (“Glutathione depletion and concomitant increase in oxidative and neurological stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions play a role in the pathophysiology of diverse neuroimmune disorders, including depression, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, suggesting that depleted GSH is an integral part of these diseases.” (PudMed.)
- Yes, that’s right, juicing boosts glutathione.
- Drinking beet juice also boosts glutathione.
- Perhaps that is why there is considerable support for the proposition that juicing can treat depression and increase feelings of well-being.
How much N-A-C should you take?
That would be medical advice, which I don’t give. However, participants in the studies usually used between 1 and 2 grams daily.
Why take N-A-C instead of glutathione?
If N-A-C is a precursor, wouldn’t it make more sense to take glutathione directly? That seems intuitively correct. There is some evidence to suggest that N-A-C is more bioavailable than glutathione.
I personally use N-A-C because that was the compound studied. How much glutathione would one need to take to get the same benefits that one can obtain from 1 to 2 grams of N-A-C? As I don’t know, I went with N-A-C.
You are of course free to try both for yourself to see what works best.
What brand of N-A-C is best?
As the supplement industry is unregulated, I generally prefer to use use two brands of supplements – Life Extension Foundation and Jarrow.
I personally use Jarrow’s form of N-A-C Sustain, which is time released. (Amazon).
For more information on oxidative stress, nutrition, and various maladies, watch this video.
Minding Your Mitochondria