N-Acetyl Cysteine Effective for Bipolar Depression (mobile format)

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/744371 Well, dear readers, I have some really good news for us all. I am particularly personally pleased about this, because today I began having those nasty creeping feelings of incipient depression. Having had a nice long remission (thank G-d), with a bit of hypomania to spice things up, I am not looking forward to the down side of the equation. But there is hope on the horizon! Just today this article on the efficacy of n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) flashed across my medical literature radar. I pounced on it like a hungry lioness. As a pediatrician, I’m familiar with NAC from its other uses: intavenously, for protecting the liver after acetaminofen overdose; and inhaled, for liquifying sticky lung secretions in cystic fibrosis. There is a growing fan base among athletes for NAC, as some feel it enhances performance. According to the above linked article, there is now good evidence to support that. NAC assists essential metabolic processes that enhance the function of the body and the mind. As is my previous post about metabolic syndrome in the brain, scientists are finding that the biochemistry of the brain is a lot more similar to that of the body than was previously thought. For instance, we know that inflammation in the body can cause all kinns of ills, so we might take antiinflammatory supplements or, even better, eat an antiinflammatory diet. This article points out that inflammation can also happen in the brain, setting off a cascade of ill effects, including triggering bipolar depression, which is notoriously difficult to treat. This gives us a window to wonder whether perhaps the biochemical/electrophysiological profile of bipolar depression might be different than that of unipolar depression. Bottom line: NAC was forms to be very safe and effective as an ad-on to the meds the patient was talking already. The dose in the study is 2000 mg, once a day. I have seen other dosing schedules that also worked, in some very promising studies on using NAC in autistic children to reduce distressing behaviors instead of using antipsychotics. The biggest challenge right now seems to be getting hold of the stuff, since it is so popular with the athletes, who no doubt feel like a million bucks. I’m definitely going to try this one. I sure hope it saves me from another round of rTMS. The old brain is not sure she can take that kind of pounding any time soon. If you decide to try NAC, I’d really appreciate it if you world keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

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  1. Thanks for the update; I’ll look into it.

  2. I will keep my eye on this as well, thank you for sharing the benefit of your access to medical literature!

  3. Kelka

     /  June 23, 2012

    I have been taking NAC for 3-4 months now and it has definitely improved my depression. It was quite a subtle start, I had a nasty low in the first month but the effects were more noticeable by about 8 weeks. I’m still up and down but the troughs are hardly noticeable now. No side effects so far! Oh and this is all I take. Feel like I can start my life again, early days though.

  4. Rachael

     /  January 29, 2013

    I started cycling, hard, after many years of stability. Since, like many others I’m sure, I have on just about everything at one time or another I was frantic trying to figure out where to turn next. A couple of hard Googles later, I’m on NAC, 1000 mg BID and feeling really good!

  5. Sam

     /  December 4, 2013

    NAC has a half-life for 5-6 hours. So it is better to spread 3-4 capsules (600 mg) across the day. I tried taking one every 5-6 hrs, and it has shown great improvement for OCD.

    • Thank you for the pharma info! And glad to hear that it’s helping you! My problem is, my attention span is so poor that I can’t remember to take anything more than twice a day, if that. Actually that’s not so unusual, which is why drug companies make time-release things. I guess I could set alarms on my phone, huh?


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