On N-acetyl Cysteine

by F.

From the FT:

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered that a common amino acid, available as a health food supplement, can help curb the addition of pathological gamblers.

In an eight-week trial, participants were given increasing doses of the amino acid, N-acetyl cysteine, which has an influence on the chemical glutamate – often associated with reward in the brain.

At the end of the trial, 60 per cent of the participants reported fewer urges to gamble, according to the research, which will be published in the forthcoming issue of Biological Psychiatry.

Those who responded well in the first round of the study were asked to participate in an additional six-week double-blind study – a testing methodology in which neither the researcher nor the subjects know who is in the control group until the study is finished.

In that study, about 83 per cent who received the supplement continued to report fewer urges to gamble. Nearly 72 per cent of those who took the placebo went back to gambling.

Similar studies using N-acetyl cysteine have shown its ability to curb drug addictions in animals, and another study in progress is investigating whether the drug could help methamphetamine users to quit the habit.

More here.