Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NAC and Gambling

A study published in the September issue of Biological Psychiatry indicates supplementation with N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) may reduce addictive behavior in compulsive gamblers, as well as individuals with other addictions.

N-acetyl cysteine is thought to restore extracellular concentrations of the chemical glutamate, which is often associated with reward in the brain. This ability led researchers to believe NAC could have a promising role to play in minimizing addictive behavior.

The researchers enrolled 27 pathological gamblers (12 women) in an 8-week trial of NAC. The first part of the study was an open trial where subjects each consumed daily doses of NAC. In this part of the study, 16 of 27 subjects (59.3 percent) reported experiencing less urges to gamble. The effective dose of NAC ranged from 1,100 to 1,700 mg per day.

Of those 16 subjects, 13 went on to participate in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of NAC. Of those subjects given NAC, 83.3 percent experienced a reduced compulsion to gamble compared with only 28.6 percent of those assigned to a placebo.

The study authors concluded, “The efficacy of NAC lends support to the hypothesis that pharmacological manipulation of the glutamate system might target core symptoms of reward-seeking addictive behaviors such as gambling. Larger, longer, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies are warranted.”

Similar studies of N-acetyl cysteine have shown it can curb drug addictions in animals. However, the researchers of the current study believe their study was the first to look at the effects of a glutamate-modulating agent in pathological gamblers. The researchers are currently investigating whether NAC could help methamphetamine users quit.


Joan said...

Now this is very interesting...its amazing that if this holds true, soon there will be no excuses for any type of addiction whether drugs, gambling, or etc.

I wonder what excuses will people like celebrities use if they are not able to use addiction as a way out

Nikki said...

haha great point Joan! I'm just wondering how much this will cost when/if it becomes available to the public. If it helps addictions maybe it will be cheaper then my Weight Watcher membership!!

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

Addictions are not always about excuses and shame.

"Just Say No" wasn't and still isn't effective or particularly appropriate for a number of the addicted population, in spite of Nancy Reagan and the popularity of AA.

Severe addictions can result from the development of physiological super-signaling neural pathways created by substances or pleasurable experiences in some people. These neural pathway signals cannot always be controlled or erased by "saying no".

This is the scientific research that has finally explained why so many totally devoted AA folks consistently "fall off the wagon" in spite of attending daily AA meetings.

Pharmaceutical and nutriceutical intervention that address neural pathway conditioning is proving to be a blessing for those folks.

BTW: NAC, in therapeutic amounts, has also been used successfully with cocaine addiction in a few clinical studies.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

Hey Nicki,

NAC is inexpensive and you can buy it over the counter at any health food store. However, as far as I know, it has not been studied for weight control and it is a potent nutrient, so I would NOT suggest taking huge amounts without the supervision of a medical professional.

If I am understanding the science correctly, biochemical control of neural pathway signaling depends on the substance or emotion responsible for the specific type of neural pathway formation, so there is not one nutrient or drug that works for all addictions.

Do remember that NAC stimulates the body to produce glutathione, the queen mother of all antioxidants.

Biosyntrx multiples, Oculair and Macula Complete, include 100 and 200 mg of N-acetyl-cysteine respectively.

Jeffrey Anshel, OD said...

Darn, there goes my best excuse..... ;-)

Jane said...

What makes scientists come up with these studies? What made them think that NAC will help with addictions? I'm glad they are looking into alternative methods to treat addictions.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

The association between impulsivity, addiction and brain circuitry is a HOT topic of intense research interest these days because U.S. drug addiction has placed an enormous burden on our society through its repercussions on crime rate and healthcare.

Extensive scientific evidence exists that supports the hypothesis that oxidative metabolites play a, yet to be completely identified, role in addiction - therefore the decision to look at NAC and addiction (remember it's the queen mother of antioxidants).

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