At this current time, there are very few proven treatments for COVID-19. There are even less for those that suffer from long-COVID (like, none).
Many people have turned to looking at readily available supplements and medications as a way to weather the storm of COVID-19 at home. NAC (n-acetyl-cystein) is one supplement that some talk about as possibly helping with symptoms related to the illness.
In this post, I will be discussing the usage of NAC for COVID-19 and my personal experience with it.
What NAC is
For a simple explanation, NAC is an antioxidant. It is the precursor to L-cysteine and glutathione ( an amino acid and an antioxidant). This means that when we supplement with it, our bodies then form the aforementioned two substances.
NAC is not found in foods- you have to get it in supplement form if you are going to take it.
NAC and COVID-19
There are said to be quite a few benefits that NAC has. Some of them have much stronger scientific evidence behind them.
Research has put lung benefits as one of the things that NAC has strong evidence for in regards to its effectiveness. As people well know, the novel virus can target our lungs causing coughs, mucus build-up and shortness of breath. For the aforementioned issues, NAC is said to possibly do the following things:
- Protect the lungs from further tissue damage by way of the antioxidant activity it has.
- Acts as a mucolytic (thins out mucus) so it gets out of your airways easier. This helps with coughs and shortness of breath.
- Reduce inflammation in the lungs
Another thing that NAC is said to possibly treat is chest pain. This is something that can occur in the acute phase of a COVID infection and/or after recovery. NAC may relieve the symptoms due to its ability to reduce inflammation (which can be the cause of chest pain).
There have been a few studies done that looked at the use of NAC in the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. Some good benefits were indeed shown but further research needs to be done.
NAC is readily available in supplement form by various brands. It can be found in tablets, capsules and powders. The recommended dosage is typically 1000-1200 mg a day.
It can also be inhaled (by way of a liquid solution) and given through an IV. The latter method obviously needs to be done in a hospital or clinical setting.
The anecdotal side of COVID-19 and NAC usage
On many forums and sites, there are people that talk about supplements during and after a COVID-19 infection. They give their experiences taking a variety of them and a lot of times recommend some to others.
NAC is one of the things that tends to come up a lot. The dosages that people take vary but the general consensus among many seems to be that it really is of benefit.
There are talks about it helping with coughs, reducing chest pressure, making breathing easier and alleviating chest pains. Because of this, people that have not taken it before become eager to start.
Just like with all supplements and medications, it may not help everyone. Some people were very disappointed that NAC did not alleviate their issues and rightfully so. COVID-19 sufferers just want to get better and feel back to their normal selves.
My Long-COVID journey and NAC
I used to take NAC years ago because my now-husband told me that it might help with my PCOS diagnosis. At that time I was taking 1200 mg without any issues. I eventually stopped for whatever reason.
A few years after that, I decided to try taking it again for the same reason. This time my stomach could not handle it. I tried taking it several times and without fail- I got sick each time.
Fast forward to my long-COVID journey, I read that NAC may help with the shortness of breath and chest pressure/pain I was experiencing a lot of. I then decided to buy it in a desperate attempt to feel better.
I ended up buying a different brand and type of NAC than what I had bought all the other times in hopes that it would not cause nausea. I thought that maybe a time-released version of it would reduce the likelihood of getting sick.
Since a common dosage of NAC is 1200 mg, I decided to just go ahead and start off with that amount. That meant me taking two of the tablets a day.
I have been taking this type of NAC for months now. I honestly can say that it really has reduced the lung discomfort and chest pressure/pain. I still get it from time to time though but I do notice a big difference when I do not take it (it was out of stock when I needed more recently).
The best part is…no nausea!
Other benefits and side effects of NAC
There are other things that NAC may be of benefit for and the following is a list of some of them:
- May help with liver functioning.
- Proven to help with Tylenol poisoning.
- May help with kidney issues.
- May lower bad cholesterol levels.
- May help reduce the damage that can come with heart attacks.
- May help with mental health conditions such as anxiety and OCD.
- May help with ovulation.
- May help with liver damage.
There are some side effects that can occur when taking NAC and they are as follows:
- GI issues
- Itchy, stinging eyes
NAC has some positive things about it that may help with COVID-19 and the associated symptoms. More research needs to be done (and should be!) on it though.
If you are considering taking it, make sure to read up on it as much as you can before you buy it.
Have you taken NAC before? If so, what was your experience with it?
September 2021 update: NAC had been taken off of Amazon due to some FDA-related things. I found some bottles of it on there again recently. The following is one option and it also is combined with vitamin C-
Thanks for reading!
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