N-acetylcysteine Holds Promise for Chronic Schizophrenia

A new research study shows that supplementation with N-acetylcysteine significantly improves symptoms in schizophrenia patients in as little as two weeks.

In the study, 140 patients (mean age, 37 years) with chronic schizophrenia were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, NAC (1 g twice a day) or placebo, in addition to their usual medication, for 24 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the change from baseline on the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale (PANSS) and on subscales that measured positive and negative symptoms separately. In intent-to-treat analysis, at 24 weeks the degree of improvement was significantly greater in the NAC group than in the placebo group for the PANSS total score (p < 0.01) and for the PANSS negative symptoms score (p < 0.02). The effect sizes were consistent with a moderate beneficial effect of NAC. No improvement was seen in the NAC group relative to the placebo group after eight weeks, indicating that the beneficial effects of NAC were slow to develop. Secondary endpoints included scores on the Clinical Global Impression Severity and Clinical Global Impression Improvement scales, which measure treatment effects not necessarily related to psychosis. NAC was also significantly superior to placebo on these scales, and the beneficial effects were evident as early as two weeks after the start of treatment. In addition, when compared with placebo, NAC treatment significantly improved akathisia (p = 0.022), which is a movement disorder caused by antipsychotic medications. NAC had no effect on the PANSS positive symptoms subscale.

NAC is a precursor to glutathione synthesis which is why it is showing benefit in schizophrenia. Glutathione levels are decreased in the cerebrospinal fluid and in portions of the brain of patients with schizophrenia.This is interesting because glutathione plays a key role in the removal of free radicals and schizophrenia patients tend to have a higher level of oxidative free radicals in their brain.

I practice Orthomolecular Medicine, and often utilize stabilized glutathione in patients with schizophrenia.This new research further validates the benefits of using stabilized glutathione to treat schizophrenia, as glutathione levels are often low in the cerebrospinal fluid and in the brain of schizophrenia patients.

-Dr. Gina

3 Responses to N-acetylcysteine Holds Promise for Chronic Schizophrenia

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  3. […] am officially impressed with the results of n-acetylcysteine, prescribed by our younger daughter’s psychiatrist about six weeks ago. While our younger […]


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