N-Acetyl-Cysteine or NAC is a powerful supplement that most people have not heard about. It boosts glutathione (the body’s strongest antioxidant) levels in the liver and peripheral tissues and helps with oxidative stress that often underlies chronic health issues.
Without getting too lost into the inner chemistry of the human body, cysteine is one of the most important amino acids necessary for the formation of glutathione in the body, (the others are glycine and glutamine). So, if glutathione was the queen of antioxidants, then cysteine would be the queen-mother.
Cysteine can help determine the levels of glutathione in the body and also how fast it is made, NAC can be essential in replenishing levels of this antioxidant.
Glutathione is necessary for the proper healing and maintenance of all cells, liver detoxification, insulin management, and regulation of hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
NAC is also a powerful support for the mucous membranes in the lungs and gut and is a gentle mucolytic (thins out mucous). And it is shown to have mood balancing properties, probably due to reducing inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS).
NAC has science backing it up too, there are numerous studies done on the benefits of this amazing supplement.
So, how can NAC be of benefit to your fertility?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture) the liver plays a vital role in a woman’s menstrual cycle and her fertility, so protecting it, detoxing it and supporting it is vital.
Your liver filters your blood, and therefore your hormones. Almost everything (there are exception), that comes into our body is filtered through the liver in some way, from the food we eat, the medications we take to the air we breathe. As glutathione is at its highest concentration in the liver, this goes to explain why this supplement is so important to combat inflammation in the liver, detoxing the liver from medications and other liver issues.
If the liver is damaged, inflammation and oxidative stress will rise, so NAC supports it by reducing inflammation and increasing the antioxidant stores. Having high glutathione stores in the liver helps prevent damage from toxins, drugs and pollutants.
So, if you are going through fertility treatment, NAC could be a much-needed support for your body.
NAC has also been shown to be of benefit to women with PCOS. As stated earlier it helps with the regulation of hormones and also to regulate insulin. It has an import action that protects the insulin receptors and influences the insulin receptor activity secretion from the pancreas; therefore improving insulin resistance.
The health of our gut, our intestines is incredibly important not just for fertility but also for our overall wellbeing and immunity. NAC, as a powerful antioxidant can protect the gut and reduce bacterial overgrowth.
Chronic constipation is so much more common that people realise; it’s just not spoken about and rarely are people asked about the frequency of their bowel movements. If you are only going to the toilet once or twice per week then your body cannot detox effectively. And this is oestrogen’s main pathway of elimination, so if you’re having issues with hormone levels in your body, this could be one of the reasons why. Because of its benefit to the intestines, NAC would help with oestrogen dominance.
Just as a side note here, you may feel it would be better to simply supplement with glutathione directly; to cut out the middle-man, but the oral form of glutathione is very difficult for the body to work with. Its bio-availability is very poor, so using this pre-cursor to glutathione is a much better option.
For overall health and wellbeing, as well as support for fertility, NAC is a fantastic supplementation support, but always make sure to speak with your health care provider before starting. It is a very safe supplement, but as with everything some may have adverse reactions such as a histamine reaction and in some rare cases kidney stones. And those on blood thinning medication may need to approach with care.
A typical dosage for general wellbeing is 600mg, but most studies show results from 800mg+ daily.
Please note, it does not taste good at all, so taking the capsule form is well advised.
Here is a super interesting study on how NAC improves pregnancy rate in long standing unexplained infertility. It could very well bring hope to what can seem like a lost case.