A safe, widely available antioxidant nutrient is now being recognized as a brain-protector that can both defend your brain against the damage of a concussion and help improve your brain if you get Parkinson’s disease.
Those are two remarkable characteristics for a single, natural nutrient.
But don’t wait till you get a bang on the head or you’re diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Those in the know about this inexpensive supplement have long understood that it can help the brain produce more glutathione – the body and brain’s most powerful, important antioxidant.
And now this substance, n-acetylcysteine – known more popularly as NAC – has been shown in research at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to be especially beneficial in managing Parkinson’s disease – and dementia.
NAC Boosts Glutathione
Perhaps the most serious consequence of Parkinson’s is the way the condition interferes with the brain’s release of dopamine – a crucial neurotransmitter. Because of this and other brain changes that occur in Parkinson’s, you begin to lose your ability to move around on your own. Worse, you have a 50/50 risk of losing your memory and succumbing to dementia within ten years of your diagnosis.1
More than a thousand Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every day.2
About the only way conventional medicine has been able to help these patients is to temporarily replace the missing dopamine in the brain. This is done using a combination of drugs, but the drugs are only effective for a limited amount of time. Eventually, they don’t work anymore.
The good news is that our understanding of this disease is getting better. Studies in the past few years have shown that oxidative stress from free radicals plays a part in its development – and the oxidative stress contributes to glutathione depletion.
That’s where NAC comes in – research now demonstrates that NAC may reverse this glutathione reduction and help protect neurons.
In the Thomas Jefferson study, researchers analyzed how Parkinson’s patients’ physical condition and mental abilities improved while taking NAC, and also used brain imaging to trace how the brain’s levels of dopamine responded.3
The results were striking.
“This study reveals a potentially new avenue for managing Parkinson’s patients and shows that n-acetylcysteine may have a unique physiological effect that alters the disease process and enables dopamine neurons to recover some function,””says researcher Daniel Monti.
Better Recovery from Brain Injuries
The other recent impressive discovery about NAC: it helps the brain recover from a concussion.
Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland have demonstrated that NAC has unique benefits for brain tissue when taken immediately after a concussive blow to the head.4
About 1.7 million Americans suffer concussions every year – in car accidents, falls, sports collisions and other mishaps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls these injuries – TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) – a “silent epidemic.” Right now, more than three million people live with memory problems and other long term mental difficulties because they’ve suffered blows to the head.
But NAC can help limit this damage – a fact that’s also been demonstrated in tests on military personnel in the Middle East who have suffered TBIs.5
This type of action is the reason that David W. Dodick, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic, says that in case a child receives a head injury at a sporting event – “Every coach and parent could be carrying this on the sidelines.”
I don’t know if this finding has been accepted by the wider medical community. Probably not. It’s new and (horrors!) it’s nutritional.
But I don’t view NAC as some kind of emergency medicine. Nearly every adult over 40 can use more glutathione. Indeed, this super-antioxidant is one of the secrets of long life. Our own bodies make it, but with age, the average person makes less and less, and by the time we’re in our sixties most of us are severely deficient.
You can read a full report on this from our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions. They offer a glutathione-boosting supplement that contains a clinical dose of NAC plus a whole passel of other nutrients that can add years to your life.