NAC – The Brain Changer
Of late, my interest is peaked regarding cognitive decline and aging. It seems that every single patient I see complains of some sort of memory loss, brain fog, and/or cognitive decline. The truth is we are all on the Alzheimer’s continuum. That is, on a scale of 0-8, “8” being a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and “0” having no symptoms or memory changes, we are all somewhere on that scale. I would guess most of us are somewhere around a 3 or 4, but that is half way to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s!
The questions to ask are:
- where are we on that scale?
- how limited are we by our symptoms?
- how fast are those symptoms progressing?
Our brains are exquisitely sensitive to toxins. Our brain cells, or neurons, are easily disrupted by toxic exposure, which either kills the neurons or the way in which neurons communicate. Toxins affect cell membranes so that they don’t respond properly, and important messages do not get communicated. This can become cumulative and result in memory changes, behavioral changes, and even changes to motor or muscle signaling.
Many diseases, that were once rare, are now an epidemic in all ages of people for reasons that conventional medicine has no answers. Unless we consider toxic exposure as one factor in these now common conditions, we will not make any progress toward addressing it.
Neurologic symptoms that are confirmed to be affected by toxic exposure are listed below. For each condition listed there is substantial research to confirm that toxic exposure plays a role in its progression:
- brain fog
- loss of coordination
- memory loss
Of the many conditions where toxins affect brain health, sadly, it is now seen the greatest in children, as exposures to chemicals found in food, air, and water have demonstrated a dramatic increase in ADHD.
Well that is the bad news. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’re likely used to me delivering the bad and THEN the good news.
What we can be doing to reduce our total toxic load is the focus of this blog, and over the years I have given you many tips, suggestions, and sometimes, mandates for how to do this. One of the nutrients I rely on heavily in my pharmacy, NAC, short for N-acetyl Cysteine, is a heavy hitter when it comes to reducing your total toxic load, and especially for protecting the neurons in your brain. I believe it is safe for most people to add into their daily detox regimen.
NAC is a precursor to glutathione and supplies the necessary amino acid cysteine to make glutathione. If cysteine becomes low, it can impair our ability to make sufficient glutathione to protect us from toxins.
Glutathione is perhaps one of the most important nutrients in brain health, and it is hard to overstate its protective importance.
- It binds to and transports mercury out of neurons.
- It neutralizes damage of the chemicals found in pesticides called POP’s.
- It supports detox from alcohol and heavy metals.
- It protects against free radical damage.
- Higher levels of glutathione in research studies have been demonstrated to be predictors of healthy aging…may I repeat—- a predictor of healthy aging!!!!
Glutathione is one of the first protective nutrients to be depleted with exposures to chemicals. Thus, if we become glutathione deficient, toxins will have a greater impact on our health. You may be asking: why not just take glutathione? Well, you should, and I frequently prescribe liposomal glutathione orally and glutathione intravenously to my patients in the clinic. However, it can be expensive and more difficult to obtain than NAC. Although glutathione is available in capsule form in many health food stores, it’s best absorbed through your cheek cells or blood stream.
The best way to support glutathione production is by taking NAC daily. Research has demonstrated in a variety of both clinical trials and in-vitro/in-vivo data that 600mg/day of NAC for 4 weeks reduced blood markers for toxicity (GGT from 62.7 to 46.3 U/L.). NAC (at approximately 600 – 1200 mg per day) is an easy addition to anyone’s supplement regimen, who is concerned about total body toxicity, brain health, and cognitive changes and who wants an additional support for the continued removal of toxins we are exposed to in our day to day lives. You can purchase NAC over the counter at your local health food store or visit my online pharmacy and have it delivered directly to your doorstep. Sign up to join my community and receive 10% off on all supplements, always.