Why does N-A-C help treat depression?


Acetylcysteine is a glutathione precursor. That is, acetylcysteine is converted into glutathione.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that used by your liver to detox your body. Emergency rooms give high doses of NAC to patients that have overdosed with Tylenol.


  • The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine (Amazon).

  • Smash Chronic Fatigue: A Concise, Science-Based Guide to Help Your Body Heal, and Banish Fatigue Forever (Amazon).

Could mental illness be caused by toxins that your liver is unable to clear from your body, due to a glutathione deficiency?


That is not so far fetched, and in fact the cutting-edge of mental health research is on the role toxins and oxidative stress play in mental illness.

See, The efficacy of adjunctive N-acetylcysteine in major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (“These data implicate the pathways influenced by NAC in depression pathogenesis, principally oxidative and inflammatory stress and glutamate, although definitive confirmation remains necessary.”) (

See also, The Glutathione System: A New Drug Target in Neuroimmune Disorders(“Glutathione depletion and concomitant increase in oxidative and neurological stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions play a role in the pathophysiology of diverse neuroimmune disorders, including depression, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, suggesting that depleted GSH is an integral part of these diseases.”


Probiotics for Ocd(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)


Who Should Consider Probiotics

The results coming in from studies that examine the effect of probiotics on anxiety are really fascinating and exciting.

For those people who have digestive issues along with anxiety, probiotic supplemenation, both by taking specific probiotic supplements as well as by eating fermented food containing live cultures, may not only help with the digestive symptoms but also with the anxiety. Disruptions to our gut bugs can cause digestive problems and can trigger anxiety symptoms.  Anxiety symptoms are often seen in people who are also having digestive problems, such as colitis, diarrhea and leaky-gut. Adults with anxiety disorders who have recently taken antibiotics, have a poor diet, drink moderately to heavily or have other issues that may have caused dysbiosis (disruption in gut bugs) are also potential candidates for probiotics. Administering probiotics can assist in returning healthy gut bugs to the digestive system.  Giving probiotics has been shown to reduce anxiety both for anxious people and also for people without any known anxiety concerns.

In children, particularly those who might have had disruptions to the healthy colonization of their gut when they were babies, perhaps from taking antibiotics when very young, being admitted to the NICU, being born via Cesarean Section or not having been breastfed, giving them probiotics, with their pediatrician’s knowledge and agreement might help ease some anxiety symptoms that the child is experiencing.  Since many doctors and parents are reluctant to give prescription anti-anxiety medications to children, giving a probiotic could be an alternative treatment to consider that has fewer risks and side effects.  [Please do note that probiotics have not been shown to be helpful for treating children with PANDAS, an obsessive-compulsive like disorder that sometimes arises in children following a bacterial streptococcus infection.]

Probiotics may be a treatment avenue to explore for patients with anxiety disorders who have achieved very little relief from traditional treatments such as anti-anxiety medication, psychotherapy or behavioral therapy.

I will continue to follow this very interesting field of research and update the site when new studies come out. In the meantime please consider adding a comment below sharing your own story and experiences with anxiety and your microbes.

Further Resources:

Strains Probiotic Bacteria that Have Been Shown to be Anxiety Reducing

If you’ve read this far, you may already be inclined to try.  Which begs the question: what to try?  While it is still too early to say exactly, the following bacteria have been shown to reduce anxiety in scientific studies.  When considering a probiotic to treat anxiety, review the ingredients to see if any of the following are included:

  • Bacteroides fragilis (B. fragilis)

  • Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum)

  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus)

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosis (L. rhamnosis)

  • Bifidobacterium animalis (B. animalis)

  • Lactococcus lactis (L. lactis)

  • Streptococcus thermophiles (S. thermophiles)


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