Thursday, January 10, 2013

N-acetylcysteine for OCD

I've written a post about N-acetylcysteine before (, which suggested that it could be useful in treating compulsive behaviour disorders such as skin-picking. 

A recent 2012 study by Afshar et al. has shown that NAC is useful for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Here's the reference:

In this study, 48 patients with OCD who had not responded to an SSRI were given NAC up to 2400 mg/day or placebo, in addition to a continued dose of the same SSRI, for 12 weeks. 

The NAC group had about a 40% reduction in YBOCS score (a quantitative measure of OCD symptoms) after 12 weeks, compared to a 20% reduction in the placebo group.  This is a good, clinically relevant symptom change especially for a treatment-resistant group. 

Mild gastrointestinal complaints were more common in the NAC group, but there was not a big difference in drop-out rates between placebo and NAC. 

NAC works as as a glutamate-modulating agent, with possible anti-inflammatory effects.  It is metabolized to the amino acid cystine after entering the brain. 

So it appears that NAC could be a simple, low-risk, effective adjunct, or even a primary treatment modality, for obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

I would be curious to see more research looking at NAC for other anxiety disorders, or for ruminative depression. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our teenage son is taking NAC (5 weeks into it now). He has Asperger's and OCD.

My husband and I are observing positive changes, and we do feel it is a result of his taking NAC.