How N-Acetylcysteine (N-A-C) Cured My Depression and Anxiety

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 psychological components of anxiety come from society and the brain washing. That is where state controlreframing techniques, and other Mindset Training comes into play.

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.)

N-A-C depression anxiety

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).
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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.)

Do you know what else boosts glutathione?

Carrot orange pomegranate juice

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

  • Good Looking Loser

    Nice that you mention NAC. I’m actually a believer.

    Its probably the only “liver aid” supplement that does anything and why emergency rooms give high doses of NAC to patients that poisoned themselves with Tylenol.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Great point. I forgot the mention that. Will add it now!

      Do you have a post at GLL about N-A-C that I can link to?

      • Good Looking Loser

        nothing comprehensive I dont think?

        I mention that guys would be super wise to take NAC if they drink alcohol/GBL and take oral steroids – which they shouldn’t be doing in the first place – but it’s better than dying.

  • Calvin Taylor

    I would have accepted this with great enthusiasm about 6 months ago when I was in a deep depression. I was trying all kinds of different remedies. Course the only thing that actually worked was getting off my ass and doing shit to build my confidence again.

    My parents used to take this shit called MAXGXL back in the day, which claimed to be a glutathione precursor as well. They claimed to thrive off it at the beginning of taking it, then the effects seemed to taper off over time. Who knows.

    • Remy Sheppard

      “Course the only thing that actually worked was getting off my ass ”

      Awesome. Good job man! Stuff like that gives me hope.

    • Berdugo

      Are you sure it was a deep depression ? I also experienced clinical depression, and getting off my ass did nothing in that case, meds helped me tremendously to actually start doing something.

      • Calvin Taylor

        I couldn’t say for sure if it was “deep” depression, it lasted about 5 months. But I would cry everyday just because I felt so hopeless – I wanted more than anything to be “back the way I was” prior to the depression. I took Wellbutrin for 1 week and it made me specifically feel much worse…

        There is no going back, there is no doing the same thing after depression. You’ve got to tweak (or completely rebuild) your lifestyle so you can move forward. It wasn’t the getting up off my ass that really cured me, it was the realization of the self-confidence I was building back up and with it a hunger for success. What began the trip outta depression was getting back into weight lifting (it was a class at my high school so I had to be there lifting for an hour and a half every day). At first I didn’t think hitting the weights was doing shit to help myself, but after a couple weeks, I found enjoyment and purpose in breaking the squat record @ 525lbs (keep in mind I am a big guy and I had been lifting for years).

        Basically – find your niche, as cliche as it sounds. It takes time to realize that things are getting better, unfortunately.

        But everyone’s fling with depression is different… that is the tricky part that makes “treating” depression such a bitch.

  • Quintus Curtius

    Honest, forthright, and inspiring.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Thank you.

      • JQ

        I bought a bottle of N-A-C after Ori Hifmekler highly recommended it in his book “The Warrior Diet” as a strong liver detoxifier, but had stopped taking it for whatever reason… I’ve taken it for the past three days since I read your post and I’m not sure if its placebo but my thoughts have definitely slowed down and I’ve noticed a greater overall sense of well-being… Thanks for the reminder of the benefits of N-A-C Mike.

  • Bob Bohlert

    I suffered from anxiety for years also. Both my parents had “nervous stomachs”, I guess it’s a northern European Jewish thing. What worked well for me supplement wise was Magnesium Oil, and 2.5 grams each of L Arginine and L Lysine. There’s been studies on that combo, and it worked very well for me.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      That’s great to hear. There’s a book called “The Brain Diet,” which shows the relationship between gastrointestinal health and neurosis.

      • samantha

        Hi Mike,
        Great article and comments. I have a concern, i just started taking glutathone and NAC (both vita cost brands, one of each in the am with a vit c pill).
        Since taking them, I have been extremely irritable and short tempered, i dont feel myself at all and am super snappy with my family. Not sure which of these sups are causing this, should i stop both? i didn’t realise they affected brain chemistry, i am never like this and feel i cannot control it, in fact it is freaking me out. I am very healthy and only started taking these supps for general biohacking and good health, not for a health concern per se, so perhaps i dont need them anyway. I have looked everywhere for info regarding mood changes on these sups but can’t find much anywhere. Its only been a week to 10 days since i started taking them. Any info would be great Mike, as i have spent countless hours trying to find out anything that may help! All the best, Samantha.

        • Mike Cernovich

          I wouldn’t take anything that made me feel worse.

          • samantha

            have you heard of any side effects such as mood alteration on these sups? are they in fact nootropics?

  • Grody

    Have been taking 1000 milligrams of aniracetam daily and 350 milligrams of n acetylcholine l triosine at night for the last week. There is a definite mood increase as well as verbal acuity.

  • Phil

    Thx for the candor Mike.

    Like yourself, I suffer from depression, I have the trifecta of depression/dark thought OCD/anxiety, inherited from my father and his mother and so on and so in. Indeed, 3 out of the last 4 generations on my father’s side, including my father, are dead from suicide. But we know so much more than they ever did and first and foremost we know that whining just leads to exacerbation of depression symptoms, as can alcohol (takes the breaks off of OCD thoughts). Good to know of alternatives to the poisons being marketed by major Pharma, which even when they work, are fraught with side effects from obesity, to hair loss to impotence and worst of all, madness (yes, many pills can exacerbate your symptoms, sometimes dramatically so). D & P is a great place for brave men to get together and talk about their realities and what they ca do to improve themselves on all fronts

    • Danger & Play Blog

      That means a lot coming from you, Phil. Yeah, it’s important that men know that this stuff is “normal” rather than just pretend that we don’t have these issues. That’s why male suicide is so high….No one talks about this stuff.

      It’s important that we be a light unto the world.

      • DukeNuke

        I was just talking to a old friend of mine about this. Knowing what depression/anxiety looks like I asked him if he was.. He just looked at me.. I said I have been and struggle with it.. He then admitted it. Guys are afraid to talk about this shit and fix it. We isolate ourselves thinking we must be the only male in existence with these issues as we ourselves will say fuck.. that’s for pursues or women.. whatever the hell. It puts us in a negative loop. One thing I have noticed is the most successful people normally struggle with these things. That in itself makes me feel better. Sometimes the darker the shad ow the brighter the star.

  • Brett

    Very interesting Mike.

    I have a good handle on my mental health thanks to the gym, improved mindset, and kratom. Although the latter is really just a bonus. I’ll keep N-A-C in the back of my mind.

  • anon1

    Ah so this was the NAC you were mentioning the other day.

    Question, is it like a nutritional supplement or a drug?

    I apologise if that was a silly question, its just this sort of stuff is way outside my purview.

    I’m familiar with BCAAs [via GLL] and protein powder, zinc and magnesium but not much else.

    Deathly afraid of screwing around with my own brain chemistry [even though i suspect food and environment does this to us anyway]

    • Danger & Play Blog

      I’ll answer your question with a question.

      Go through and read your comments. (You should be able to find them all through the Disqus panel.)

      What theme emerges from your comments?

      I will give you my answer once you give me yours.

      • anon1

        hmm, well at a push i would say fear, anxiety and uncertainty, maybe a dash of self hate.

        i have been improving myself since discovering this site [maybe mid 2012] but my priority was being a bit of a dutiful son, and sacrificing my own goals to that end. I don’t know if that was a fear of what would happen if i just started completely going against my own self imposed duties, or a fear of not succeeding at them.

        I think its been only since this year that i have made bigger gains.

        there are probably things i have achieved that i discount, and completely ignore.

        I always look up at my betters, rather than stopping once in a while to appreciate what i’ve done and maybe realise “i’ve got this”

        i don’t know.

        What do you think emerges from my comments Mike?

        • Danger & Play Blog

          That you are fearful and risk averse and need to push yourself to start taking risks.

      • anon1

        I put on my mp3 player again today, and your state control podcast randomnly came up. It felt like i was listening for the first time again. I think its covered perhaps the theme you were trying to highlight about me

  • Chris

    Interesting stuff…

    In your hangover cure article, you suggested taking N-A-C Sustain which apparently is released fully over 8 hours as opposed to the one you suggest here.

    Which would you take before drinking and which would you take for daily well being?


    • Danger & Play Blog

      Yeah I like Sustain; that’s what I meant to think to. Thanks for the FYI.

  • red pill going galt

    Mike, did you ever take 5HTP and if so how the results were? Obviously if you are writing about NAC that had better results for you.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      I tried everything. Nothing worked like N-A-C.

  • Dan

    Thee ( , ) are interesting discussions of NAC from a paleo-minded psychiatrist.

    I’ve had pretty good results with it for dealing with large amounts of alcohol, but I haven’t noticed much for anxiety.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Those are interesting links; thanks!

  • Ian


    Mike-I believe you could write a best seller like Neil Strauss and really make some $$$ as this blog is very good.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Thanks, Ian and welcome to D&P. I’m not in a hurry to make money from this site. My vision is bigger than that, although the money will come when I want it to.

      • Ian

        You don’t have to be in a hurry because you will-I went to a Doctor who is a non-traditionalist and despises the matrix too and he pushes all the things your’e saying. I’m pretty impressed a dude in his mid-30’s can boil down almost esoteric info. that old head, brilliant MDs in their 60s chat about for months to clients. Good stuff man. You will make $ and add more value by touching many life’s. This blog is just no BS pull no punches and free of marketing filler. I think Roosh V (I also read him often-he’s a pioneer in relating game to georgraphy-the Polish women and Swededs iv’e flirted with have been so much more feminine than the Macy’s clones) made a mistake by selling his BANG too cheap-he probably moves alot of books and if he would up the price he could make more $.

        I think those behind the economic matrix put all that crap in the environment (air, food, water, and consumer goods) to poison the common man.

        Are people with anxiety issues bitch made non alphas or victims of a toxic environment-that is a question iv’e always wondered?

        • Danger & Play Blog

          Yes, it is deliberate. After all, I am just a regular man and yet I have discovered the cure for anxiety and depression.

          How can that be? Why doesn’t everyone know this? Why isn’t this national news?


          The people who own the media and drug companies want us to be sick. Drug companies buy ads on those TV programs. It’s a win-win for the master ruling elites.

          We can’t change the system but we can reject it and live for ourselves.

  • Fortis

    Wonderful stuff, Mike.

    I’ve been dosing it for the past week and I cannot tell if it’s working just yet, but I do feel a lot “cleaner” if that means anything. My mind is usually ok, minus the obsessive, weird thoughts I have. Otherwise, My emotional state is quite good. I hope to keep dosing NAC as an anti-oxidant.

  • Trenbrah

    Very interesting post sir.. I have suffered from from moderate anxiety
    and tried all of the pharma products in the world which just made me
    feel even worse. Recently I happened to start mega dosing MSM powder
    along with vitamin c for skin health. Low and behold a few days into
    this my anxiety had vanished, I was amazed and belated. I dug deeper and
    found out low and behold MSM powder cleans your liver. I’m assuming
    some peoples livers have a harder time clearing the toxin overload from
    todays enviroment, compounding that with a shitty diet and you are
    headed for a bad place. Are some people just born with shitty liver
    function and have a hard time clearing toxins?

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Yes, MSM is great. That’s a good question about liver function. I think that most people are sick from a toxic environment. 25% of women are on some sort of anti-psy drug.

      We live in a sick and polluted world. I would go so far to say that we are being poisoned deliberately by our slave masters.

      • Trenbrah

        Your last statement really reasonated with me. Our “slave masters” don’t want happy healthy strong independent people. They want weak fragile minded fat people who need big daddy government to tell that what to do. To make matters worse, tons of money is made keeping people in that perpetual state of disarray.

  • Kronos1978
  • Freshh22

    Hey Mike,

    In regards to depression and anxiety, what are your opinions on cannabis use as a remedy? With the rapid growth and acceptance of cannabis use worldwide today, more and more people are claiming marijuana may aid problems such as these. Additionally, what are you overall thoughts on marijuana usage?


    • Danger & Play Blog

      If it works for someone, then good for them. I don’t personally use marijuana, as it dulls the senses. I want to perceive reality more acutely.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      If it works, I don’t judge. Drugs react differently in different people. Weed makes me sleepy and stupid. I know many successful people who smoke up as it calms them down.

      As I am naturally mellow/low energy, I look for drugs that have the opposite effect.

      • The Fearless Rebel

        Fresh22 whatever you do please dont go down that road. Cannabis can make you relaxed…yes but its only while you’re high. I have experience with cannabis and I believe it may be my ultimate cause of my anxiety which I still suffer to this day. Sure I’m way better now but I believe I went through something called “weed induced psychosis” which is a real thing. It lasted a good three months and slowly weaned off when I stopped cannabis. Weed is the last thing you want if you’re suffering from anxiety. I have spoke with many doctors and done research…weed can cause anxiety and for someone that is already inclined to will make it worse while you’re not high. It’s NOT worth it. Same with alcohol too. Make sure to limit alcohol, caffeine, and dont ever do weed anymore. Actually dont fuck with psychotic drugs if you are prone to anxiety…it’s NOT worth it at all.

  • Robert

    I use NAC to prevent hangovers, 1200mg before drinking and you can prevent most of the effects the next day. Of course if you are doing some serious drinking you might want to drink some water as well.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Yes, it is a great hangover prevention supplement.

  • poledaddy

    I got my bottle of N-A-C today – opened it and got fairly strong rotten egg smell. I did some research and found other reports of people encountering this. Article on WebMD says it’s apparently due to sulfur: I’m not going to worry about it, but figured I would chime in case others are seeing the same thing.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Sulfur is a powerful detoxification agent.

  • 4DSpark

    Do you stack your NAC with ALA Mike? I’ve been taking 500 mg NAC 200 mg ALA daily. I spoke with my naturopath yesterday and she recommended upping my ALA to 600 mg daily and sticking with the 500 mg NAC since they have a synergistic effect. I’ve been playing around with 1.5-2 grams a day though since reading your article and am noticing much better effect at the higher dose. Curious if you supplement with ALA also and what specific doses you take of both if you do?

    • Danger & Play Blog

      I used to. I also used to take ALCAR.

      My mental illness was cured, so I don’t take N-A-C often. I took it for around 18 months and it cured me.

      I drink a lot of green juice, too, so I don’t need supplemental NAC.

  • Bullitt315

    Thanks, I’ve actually been taking the stuff since 2011 based on your recommendation and it definitely helps.

  • ase231

    hey mike,

    how long did you start to feel the benefits of NAC since taking it?

    • Danger & Play Blog

      No one can say but you. For some people they feel great after a week. Others notice subtle changes over the course of weeks or months. For me it took around 1 or 2 months and then I felt….just more calm. Now I don’t even take NAC except occasionally.

  • TJ Nelson

    Thanks for the mention of NAC. I had depression for 11 years and finally fixed it all through nutritional deficiencies and correcting my imbalances (people used to tell me I’d be on medications my whole life).

    I never looked into NAC, but several people have been emailing me about it. Glad to see a personal, honest account on the supplement. I’m going to look into this more to see how it can benefit others.

    • Berdugo

      Hi, how did you manage to get rid off your meds by fixing your imbalances ? I’m curious cause that’s what I would like to do. What did you use ? Thanks

      • TJ Nelson

        Hey Berdugo, a major part of it was using nutritional methods to restore my brain and body back into balance.

        I used L-Tryptophan and B Vitamins and several other minerals to give my body the raw ingredients to make its own serotonin. Doing this I got off in a week or two with minimal withdrawals.

        I also have helped several other people get off their antidepressants successfully using this method.

        A major part of it is identifying your symptoms of depression (there are different *types* of depression) so you know what will restore your brain properly. Then the type of antidepressant you are and what neurotransmitters it affects.

        After that, it is easy to get a plan going on weaning off successfully and getting back to health without having to use any medications (I barely take any supplements even these days).

        Have you ever heard of Julia Ross and her work? That is what got me started on this journey.

  • Berdugo

    Hi, very interesting article, thank you.

    I am currently trying ALCAR, which also raises gluthatione levels, have you tried it before ? Was is more or less efficient than NAC ?

    • Danger & Play Blog

      I’ve used ALCAR. NAC is far superior.

      • Guest

        All right ! How much time did you wait before the effects became obvious ? Some people seem to say that the effect start within about 2 weeks, others say you need months…

  • Sal

    Hey Mike,
    Great article. I bought a bottle of this stuff and it’s great (helps a lot with OCD and
    just seems to make life more enjoyable and less anxious).

    How much/often do you personally use it?

  • Sebasthion

    Thank you so much for sharing this. N-A-C has helped me immensely with my OCD/mild depression. As an added bonus, it prevents hangovers like a boss.

    All the best!

  • Derek Wolf

    Mike, great article.

    Here’s another reason to consider using NAC to flush the liver with antioxidants – reducing oxidative damage:

    Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – fatty liver disease NOT induced by alcohol – has been increasing exponentially over recent decades. The frequency of liver transplant due to this has jumped 5-fold within 10years time.

    Knowing the liver to be a critically important filter organ… we should ask, if it is not alcohol that is causing the inflammatory damage + fat buildup in response to toxins… WTF is?

    What has also rose in correlation to this increase of NASH?

    Consumption of food soaked with pesticides… toxic chemicals in our immediate environment… contact with endocrine disruptors…

    The liver also processes out excess estrogen from the body. So if one wished to maximize their testosterone building efforts, on top of other health goals, keeping the liver tip top is very important.

    An overburdened liver, spare tire around the belly, high consumption of refined sugars/HFCS/starchy carbs, and a few other factors equate to the modern American male: out of shape, high estrogen, low test, low energy, low muscle mass, constant inflammation throughout body, reduced immunity…

    Not genetics, but genetic expression!

  • Justus

    Hi Mike,

    thanks for all your postings and information. Just read on a German page (my translation):

    To increase reduced glutathione in the organism by 1 g you need about 400 mg of cysteine.

    NAC is about 74% of cystein. But only 20% of cysteine is metabolized to glutathione.

    So you need about 2.7 g per g gluthatione to be metabolized. This works the other way around, too, of course.

    The EFSA (European Food Security Agency) warns about such high doses of NAC, because they might cause adverse effects, like stomach issues, nausea, diarrhea. They also doubt the bio-availability of orally used NAC and its pro-oxidative effects. So they do not recommend it.

    Please excuse my bad english, for I am a German. Please note that this is not my opionion on NAC and I strongly doubt the validity of the conclusion of the EFSA. I will take my NAC, since reduced l-glutathion is quite expensive over here and since there are some issues in my family and life too. But maybe the direct supplementation of 1 g glutathion per day works even as well. There is a study on this dosage here:

    Since NAC reduces inflammation, you might be interested in these recent findings or articles, too:

    Finally I want to thank you again for all your posts and ebooks and stuff. I started reading mikael sydings book and blog, too. This was an excellent recommendation. Thank you so much.

  • matimal

    The more NAC I take, the more relaxed I feel. I can make myself feel as if I’m on a mild sedative if I take enough.

  • Derek Wolf

    Great writeup. Here is an additional bit RE: NAC/mental health that I came across while working on a project.

    “Stanford is filing a patent for the use of NAC in autism”

    “The antioxidant, called N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC, lowered irritability
    in children with autism as well as reduced the children’s repetitive

  • Gladius

    Vit D deficiency may have a LINK to depression and other maladies ( MS, cancers..). Remember that association is not causation though. Vit D deficiency is rampant. Milk and dairy is on a lot of people’s dietary “shit list” so there is not a lot of dietary sources of Vit D except for dairy and “oily fish” . When was the last time you ate a handful of anchovies??? Take 1000-2000 IU of Vit D daily I’ve read…

  • marian

    Hello Mike. Here it is available at every pharmacy, it costs around 5 USD. I take it now and then to help my liver with TRT and also to protect it when I drink alcohol. I didnt know it is also a nootropic. Thank you. Here it is marketed as mucosolvant for pulmonary problems, flu. etc.

  • Björn

    Hey Mike,
    great article. does nac also help to remove mercury from the body and especially from the brain ?

    keep up the good work