N-Acetyl-Cysteine Reduces Flu 54 Percent
By Michael Mooney

N-Acetyl-Cysteine ( NAC), taken at 600 mg, two per day (1200 mg per day) has been shown in the study below to significantly reduce the incidence and severity of the flu by about 54 percent in a six month study of 262 adults.

NAC also has valuable implications as an anti-disease and anti-aging supplement because of its support of antioxidant mechanisms in the body. NAC also improves cell-mediated immunity, which helps control invading organisms, like viruses. NAC converts into glutathione peroxidase, an important detoxifying antioxidant enzyme that the liver uses to detoxify.

S. De Flora, C. Grassi, L. Carati. Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetylcysteine treatment. European Respiratory Journal 1997; 10:1535–1541.

ABSTRACT: N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an analogue and precursor of reduced glutathione, has been in clinical use for more than 30 yrs as a mucolytic drug. It has also been proposed for and/or used in the therapy and/or prevention of several respiratory diseases and of diseases involving oxidative stress, in general. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of long-term treatment with NAC on influenza and influenza-like episodes.

A total of 262 subjects of both sexes (78% ≥65 yrs, and 62% suffering from nonrespiratory chronic degenerative diseases) were enrolled in a randomized, doubleblind trial involving 20 Italian Centres. They were randomized to receive either placebo or NAC tablets (600 mg) twice daily for 6 months. Patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases were not eligible, to avoid possible confounding by an effect of NAC on respiratory symptoms. NAC treatment was well tolerated and resulted in a significant decrease in the frequency of influenza-like episodes, severity, and length of time confined to bed. Both local and systemic symptoms were sharply and significantly reduced in the NAC group. Frequency of seroconversion towards A/H1N1 Singapore 6/86 influenza virus was similar in the two groups, but only 25% of virus-infected subjects under NAC treatment developed a symptomatic form, versus 79% in the placebo group. Evaluation of cell-mediated immunity showed a progressive, significant shift from anergy to normoergy following NAC treatment. Administration of N-acetylcysteine during the winter, thus, appears to provide a significant attenuation of influenza and influenza-like episodes, especially in elderly high-risk individuals. N-acetylcysteine did not prevent A/H1N1 virus influenza infection but significantly reduced the incidence of clinically apparent disease.

Michael Mooney