N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) -- Gambling Addictions, Addictive Behavior Support

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N-Acetyl Cysteine May Help Reduce Gambling and Other Addictions
by Vitamin Research Staff -- Used by Permission

Researchers have released the results of a new study that indicates supplementation with N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) may reduce addictive behavior in compulsive gamblers as well as individuals with other addictions.

N-acetylcysteine is thought to restore extracellular concentrations of the chemical glutamate, which is often associated with reward in the brain. This ability led researchers to believe NAC could have a promising role to play in minimizing addictive behavior.  The researchers enrolled 27 pathological gamblers (12 women) in an 8-week trial of NAC.  The first part of the study was an open trial where subjects each consumed daily doses of NAC.  In this part of the study, 16 of 27 subjects (59.3 percent) reported experiencing less urges to gamble.  The effective dose of NAC ranged from 1,100 to 1,700 mg per day.

Of those 16 subjects, 13 went on to participate in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of NAC. Of those subjects given NAC, 83.3 percent experienced a reduced compulsion to gamble compared with only 28.6 percent of those assigned to a placebo.

The authors of the study concluded:  The efficacy of NAC lends support to the hypothesis that pharmacological manipulation of the glutamate system might target core symptoms of reward-seeking addictive behaviors such as gambling.  Larger, longer, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies are warranted.

Similar studies of N-acetyl cysteine have shown it can curb drug addictions in animals.  However, the researchers of the current study believe their study was the first to look at the effects of a glutamate-modulating agent in pathological gamblers.  The researchers are currently investigating whether NAC could help methamphetamine users quit.

Reference:  Grant JE, Kim SW, Odlaug BL. N-acetyl cysteine, a glutamate-modulating agent, in the treatment of pathological gambling: a pilot study. Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Sep 15;62(6):652-7.

Hair-Pulling - aka - Trichotillomania
by Dusty R. Green, M.Ed.

A study conducted by researchers from the Minnesota School of Medicine shows that N-acetylcysteine may ease the symptoms of compulsively pulling their hair out.  This study was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Hair-pulling, aka trichotillomania, is a compulsive disorder that may affect as many as 15 percent of the public.  Some people who suffer from trichotillomania will play with or eat their hair after pulling it out.  Hair pulled from various parts of their bodies involve eyelashes, arms, head, etcetera sometimes creating bald spots.

Trichotillomania is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder and is believed to involve the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

A group of people experiencing trichotillomania was given 1,200 mgs of N-acetyl-cysteine every day for six weeks.  This amount was continued for six weeks in people who seemed to respond and doubled in those who did not appear to be responding.

Fifty-six percent of those treated, demonstrated significantly improved symptoms.  This amount was compared to the placebo group that only showed a 16 percent improvement.  In addition, no adverse side-effects were reported.

This particular amino acid shows to be on-par with behavior therapy or drug-therapy combinations.

Other studies suggest that the nutritional supplement N-acetylcysteine may be effective when dealing with schizophrenia, bipolar, and/or obsessive-compulsive disorders.  Nasal mucus build-up and acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdoses are two other issues that have been shown to respond to N-acetylcysteine.

Researchers said that even if the amino acid treatment proves successful in further studies, behavioral therapy should still be used to try and treat the underlying psychological causes of hair pulling.

Reference:  Archives of General Psychiatry, Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH; Brian L. Odlaug, BA; Suck Won Kim, MD.  N-Acetylcysteine, a Glutamate Modulator, in the Treatment of Trichotillomania.  A double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  2009;66(7):756-763.

Editors Note:  Concerning other addictions, an additional consideration is to use kudzu and d,l phenylalanine in association with l-glutamine for lessening the desire for alcohol and carbohydrates.  Lithium orotate also shows promise in the addictions arena.  There seems to be a synergistic relationship with all of these combined compared to any one single nutrient alone.  In addition, activated charcoal/bentonite clay is the preferred choice for detoxification of toxic substances and other poisons that can build-up in our bodies.

Dosage and Use:  Take one capsule one to three times daily with or without food, or as recommended by a healthcare practitioner.  When taking N-acetyl cysteine, it is recommended that two to three times as much vitamin C (included in Anti-Alcohol Antioxidants) be taken at the same time.

Caution:  Those who supplement with NAC should drink water daily in order to prevent cysteine renal stones.  Cysteine renal stones are rare but do occur.


  • Keep out of reach of children,

  • Do not exceed recommended dose,

  • If you have a bad reaction or side effects, discontinue use immediately,

  • When using N-Acetyl L-Cysteine for gambling addictions or addictive behavior support, please inform your physician.

More Information:  N-Acetyl Cysteine - Ingredients/Dose/Information | HepatoPro | Diabetes & Alcohol |
Fatty Livers, Alcohol, & Artichoke | Liver Efficiency Formula

Pricing Information: N-Acetyl L-Cysteine | Kudzu Herb Supplements | L-Glutamine | Lithium Orotate


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