Guest Post: by Shanekkia Black, M.S., Director of R&D at Napa Valley Nutritionals
N-acetylcysteine or NAC as it is commonly called is a potent derivative of the sulfur containing semi-essential amino acid L- cysteine. In conventional medicine, this super antioxidant is used as mucolytic agent to treat acute respiratory conditions; however a staggering amount of research is in growing support of its role in women’s reproductive health, fertility and most notably PCOS.
So….. how does it work you say?
Simply put, NAC receives a perfect 10 across the board when it comes to reducing oxidative stress. Once digested, NAC is converted through a series of enzymatic reactions into glutathione, the body’s most powerful endogenous antioxidant. Unlike other antioxidants, NAC is rich in thiols which replenishes glutathione stores in the body. Glutathione, the “super-antioxidant” is responsible for neutralizing the effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which protects and maintains the integrity of structures inside the cell like DNA. Clinical studies have demonstrated that excessive levels of oxidative stress impedes upon normal physiological function including ovarian function. Recent research suggest that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) suffer an imbalance between the amount of free radicals generated and the rate antioxidant production needed to neutralize them. This imbalance between free radical generation and antioxidant production leaves women with PCOS under a constant state of oxidative stress which exacerbates the dysfunction of the ovaries and overall biochemistry of the body.
The Good stuff….
By replenishing glutathione stores and neutralizing the effects of oxidants, NAC has been proven to alleviate oxidative stress on the ovaries, improve women’s reproductive health and fertility outcomes. Collectively, research has shown NAC to significantly reduce hirsutism, improve insulin sensitivity, balance hormonal parameters (hyperandrogenism) and improve ovulation rates. In a recent randomized double- blind placebo-controlled clinical trial that examined ovulation outcomes, NAC was found to improve the efficacy of clomiphene when used as an adjunctive therapy. In this study, spontaneous ovulation, pregnancy rates and ovarian follicle count were significantly increased when oral NAC administration was combined with clomiphene treatment in comparison to clomiphene treatment alone. In a similar study, the same results were observed however, using clomiphene resistant patients demonstrating NAC’s ability to be a true contender and stand alone therapy in the successful of treatment of PCOS.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…..
Even more amazing than NAC’s ability to improve ovulation rates is its ability to improve the metabolic parameters associated with PCOS. When compared to metformin in a randomized perspective trial with 100 patients, NAC proved equally efficacious at significantly reducing body mass index, hirsutism scores, fasting insulin, free testosterone and menstrual irregularity. All of the following outcomes were achieved with the oral administration of NAC without the commonly associated gastrointestinal side effects of metformin. Other studies confirm these findings supporting NAC’s use in reducing insulin AUC and improving insulin sensitivity. Managing the symptoms of PCOS can be a challenge, but the fight just got easier with NAC. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of NAC and its use in successfully managing PCOS.
Shanekkia Black received a B.S. in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology from Tuskegee University. During her graduate studies, she conducted prominent research in the area of biochemistry and women’s health at various institutions including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Morehouse School of Medicine and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Apart from her academic endeavors, she has participated in several initiatives to increase health awareness in rural and minority communities including the Macon County “Get Healthy Campaign”. In this program, she traveled to rural communities to teach local residents about how to adopt healthy lifestyles and good nutritional practices. As the lead director of research and development at Napa Valley Nutritionals, it is Shanekkia’s goal to incorporate current scientific research with holistic practices in an effort to provide the best quality products to our consumers. With this goal, Shanekkia’s work embodies the spirit of NVN, providing women’s products that support mind and body.