What’s the Deal with NAC?

The story of NAC (N-acetyl L-cysteine) is one of those disturbing tales in which an innocent, innocuous little substance somehow becomes the key player in legal battles, angry protests, and defamation of character. All it ever wanted was to supplement falling levels of cysteine and restore healthy amounts of the mother of all antioxidants—glutathione (GSH). As we age, our glutathione begins to deplete, leaving our cells without a major source of protection and defense from free radicals and oxidative damage. NAC brings depleted GSH levels back up to where they should be, protecting us from just about every degenerative disease you can think of*. And yet, this innocent, safe, effective little pill has been put through the ringer and hung out to dry multiple times. Today, it is barely conscious and hanging on for dear life.

Origin Story

NAC began innocently enough. It was patented in 1960. Little is known about the original intended use for NAC, but it wasn’t used in medicine until 1967. If it wasn’t being used pharmaceutically, one can only assume it was being used supplementally. In 1969, it was used to help clear airways in cystic fibrosis patients. Soon after that, NAC’s ability to remove toxins from the liver led to its use in acetaminophen overdoses.

During this time, NAC was also being used as a cysteine supplement. NAC is readily absorbed and offers relatively high bioavailability compared to GSH supplements. It has also been shown to significantly increase glutathione levels in the body. Today, there are over 1500 supplemental products registered with the National Institute of Health which contain some amount of NAC.

FDA Controversy

The FDA began its battle with NAC in 2020, when some supplement providers began making unsubstantiated claims about NAC, such as that it can cure hangovers. Functional medicine doctors also began to tout NAC as a Covid 19 treatment. These types of claims are probably what got the FDA’s gears turning against NAC as a supplement. Another interesting coincidence in timing is the recent development of pharmaceutical patents containing NAC for use in new prescription drugs.

In its war on supplemental NAC, the FDA has invoked the Drug Exclusion Provision Act—a law that states that dietary supplements can’t contain anything approved for use as a new drug, or anything even being investigated as a new drug without express approval from the Secretary of the FDA. This act was instated in 1970 by Richard Nixon, 9 years after its patent.

NAC is not the first substance to be retroactively banned due to the Drug Exclusion Act. Other examples include red yeast rice, vitamin B6, and CBD. By precluding these ingredients from being used supplementally, the FDA is aiding and abetting pharmaceutical monopolies.


So what does that mean for NAC? Unfortunately, although appeals are being made and supplemental NAC isn’t illegal yet, many stores, including Amazon, are pulling their NAC-containing products from the shelves—with nothing to replace them with. However, industry leaders are fighting back. Opponents of the FDA position are pointing to the fact that NAC was used as a supplement years before it was used as a pharmaceutical, which would nullify the claim that supplemental NAC is illegal due to the Drug Exclusion Act of 1970.

Why NACET Will Save the Day

When NAC is so effective at offsetting the natural reduction of glutathione as we age, it is frustrating that the FDA could take it all away in one fell swoop. It is already increasingly difficult to get your hands on. Additionally, glutathione supplements aren’t a viable option because oral GSH is completely metabolized in the stomach and gut.

The good news is, another form of NAC, called NACET, has been developed. Because NACET is structurally different from NAC, it is not included in the pending lawsuit. If the FDA has its way with NAC, NACET will be the only remaining source of effective cysteine supplementation.

The even better news is that NACET is superior to NAC in every way. First, it is easily absorbed. Second, it has much higher bioavailability. While NAC has a bioavailability rate of around 4-6%, NACET has a bioavailability rate of 60-80%. With NAC, glutathione levels are raised by a maximum of 10%. On the other hand, NACET raises plasma levels of cysteine by 400-800%, which is then used by the body to increase GSH by a whopping 250%! Finally, NACET is both water and fat soluble. Unlike NAC, which is mostly utilized by the liver and kidneys, NACET can sneak past the liver and kidneys through a process called esterification, allowing it to be directly absorbed by the red blood cells and transported throughout your body, into all your major organs—including your brain.

While supplemental NAC’s story could end in tragedy with a rash ruling made by the FDA, it’s legacy will live on in its superior descendent—NACET. Thankfully, NACET should be here to stay, allowing people in the United States to do something about their depleting GSH levels. You deserve to age beautifully, gracefully, and disease-free, so fight back with NACET!

Learning about the havoc that unchecked free radicals can wreak on your cells can be a bit scary. Losing GSH as you age is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that you must simply surrender. Don’t go another day without the antioxidative power of nutri-NACET. Click here to learn more and order yours today!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.