Comphensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils HTML version

Meschino Health Comprehensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
General Features
N-Acetylcysteine is a modified form of the amino acid cysteine, which when taken as a supplement can help the body
increase its glutathione stores – an important antioxidant and detoxification agent. In conditions of heightened
oxidative stress, HIV infection and certain chemical toxicities that damage the liver, the supplementation of N-
Acetylcysteine can be used to elevate or re-establish more optimal levels of liver and blood glutathione.
In liver detoxification the most important antioxidant for neutralizing the free radicals produced as Phase I by products
is glutathione.
Glutathione is a tripeptide composed of three amino acids, namely cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Glutathione
also provides a detoxification role in Phase II detoxification by acting as a conjugating agent. Conjugation reactions
either neutralize toxins produced by Phase I detoxification enzymes and/or
make the toxin more easily excreted through the urine or bile.
When high levels of toxin exposure results in extensive free radical intermediate build up from Phase I detoxification
processes, glutathione is rapidly used up and a glutathione deficiency state may occur.
Glutathione conjugation is extremely useful to convert fat-soluble toxins into a water-soluble form, allowing more
effective excretion via the kidneys.
Certain conditions that increase oxidative stress also more rapidly use up glutathione in its antioxidant function. In turn
this can lead to glutathione deficiency and a worsening of the patient’s condition. Conditions that are linked to
glutathione deficiency include HIV infection, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and adult respiratory distress syndrome.
Glutathione supplements are not well absorbed, however supplementation with vitamin C (500-3,000 mg per day) and
Vitamin E (400 – 800 i.u. per day) have been shown to raise blood and liver glutathione levels in various studies.
In patients with AIDS or HIV infection, supplementation with N-Acetylcysteine has been shown to be a very effective
way to boost glutathione levels.1
Clinical Application and Mechanism of Action
1. HIV Infection and AIDS
Studies reveal that individuals infected with HIV have compromised antioxidant status.2,3 Certain antioxidants, such
as glutathione, prevent viral replication while reactive oxidants tend to stimulate the virus.3
Moreover, a decline in glutathione status may be a biomarker signalling a more rapid progression of HIV to full
blown AIDS.4 There is evidence that supplementing HIV patients with N-Acetylcysteine can significantly increase
the synthesis of glutathione and slow the progression of the disease.5, 16
Studies have shown that intracellular concentrations of glutathione are correlated with the absolute CD4 (T-helper
cells) lymphocyte counts. A single dose of N-Acetylcysteine has been shown to increase the concentration of
cysteine in the plasma and mononuclear cells of HIV-infected patients.6
N-Acetylcysteine supplementation in these patients has been shown to cause approximately a 2-fold inhibition of
HIV reverse transcriptase activity and had a synergistic effect when tested simultaneously with vitamin C.7
As glutathione is the main intracellular defence against oxidative stress, and is decreased in the plasma, lung fluid,
and T-lymphocytes in individuals with AIDS, N-acetylcysteine, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are important