It is difficult to find another such substance – research on which would give equally positive and unequivocal results. It would be inappropriate to ask “what does it help”. It is hard to find a disease or ailment where cysteine did NOT help!
It is one of the amino acids, or simply a protein. You can see a kind of paradox here – on one hand you constantly hear that protein is consumed too much, hundreds of studies have already shown its harmful effects or even showed it as the main cause of some “Western diseases”. On the other hand, one of the amino acids turns out to be priceless. Maybe this is where the problem lies, maybe we do not eat too much of it, but rather in the wrong proportions?
The main role of the substance we are interested in is the synthesis of glutathione. It is a basic antioxidant that participates in almost every defensive and cleansing function of our body. It provides “ammunition” to NK immune cells, removes toxins, heavy metals, free radicals – it is present almost everywhere. I don’t think there’s room for technical details on this blog – these reactions are so complex that it would take several hundred pages to describe them, and many months or even years of study to understand them. You can give a few formulas and some difficult, complicated names, which will give the impression that “we understood something”, but in my opinion it doesn’t make much sense. It is better to focus on things that are simple and understandable for everyone – the results of clinical trials.
First things first – influenza. This is the “gold standard” when testing the effect of a substance or therapy on the immune system. Influenza can happen to anyone, it is common and generally harmless. Half of the test group gets a substance, half gets a placebo, and after a few months or years, the number of cases is compared. In this case, immunological tests were added to determine whether there was any contact with the virus – as we know, not everyone who gets infected gets sick. Such testing helps keep the role of chance to a minimum.
A group of people with poor health (elderly or with degenerative conditions), but no confirmed deficiency, received either n-acetyl-cysteine (2x600mg) or a placebo for six months. The results exceeded expectations – supplementation reduced the incidence of disease by more than three times! Only 25% of people receiving cysteine became ill after contact with the virus, while in the placebo group – 79%. Such a result outclasses vaccines. And what’s most interesting – the protective effect grew with time, which means that long-term use would bring even better results.
Cancer research is very, very interesting. Of course no one will test ordinary cysteine – the patient is potentially hundreds of thousands of profit, so only expensive drugs, subject to patent law, are being tested. One company has developed synthetic glutathione – it can be suspected with very high probability that its effects will be identical to those of cysteine.
The effects of this substance in treating a very severe (resistant to all known therapies) form of ovarian cancer were truly sensational. In one case the cancer simply disappeared, in several it regressed, in general – it slowed down very much. The average survival when running classical heavy chemotherapy was less than 40 weeks, while glutathione offered as much as 60 weeks with the hope of complete recovery! And all this without any side effects, just the opposite – the overall well-being and health of the patients improved.
The scams surrounding research and treatment standard setting in HIV/AIDS is a topic for a separate article. One patient is worth tens of thousands each year. It is no wonder that the medical profession does everything possible to start treatment as early as possible, “everyone knows” that there is no way to stop the disease and postpone the moment when antiretroviral therapy has to be started.
However, someone dared to conduct a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a protein nutrient with a high cysteine content in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
While the study tried to determine whether it would stop patients from losing weight, it also looked at the progression of the disease. And what happened? You’ve probably already guessed. It has regressed. Not by much, but to a noticeable degree. In people receiving placebo, the level of CD4 cells dropped by 5 (it can be said, in a nutshell, that AIDS progress as they disappear from the body), while cysteine increased their number by 15. It was not a big change, but taking into account that the therapy starts when their level drops to 200-300, a simple cysteine could not only save the lives of many patients, but also save the billions of dollars, postponing the moment when they have to start taking the drugs (perhaps even indefinitely). In our vocabulary it is “saving”, but for pharmaceutical companies this word translates to “loss”, which is why no patient will hear about it from a doctor. Clinical trials showing the reversal of AIDS after simply supplementing with immune-boosting supplements are plentiful, but that’s a topic for a separate article.
And what about autoimmune conditions? After all, in them our own defense system destroys us, won’t strengthening it make the condition worse? And here’s a surprise – cysteine not only did not harm, but actually calmed the disease. In systemic lupus, supplementation improved patients’ health, lowering their SLEDAI score (which measures how troublesome their symptoms are) from 9 to 6. This is an effectiveness comparable to the best drugs, but without their price and side effects.
There are a number of other benefits as well – in clinical trials it has been a very effective treatment against depressive states in bipolar.
The MADRS score dropped from almost 28 to under 10, with scores above 34 indicating the most severe form of this illness, and below 6 indicating complete health. The score dropped 17 points compared to placebo, while in the first study I found on google, medications usually prescribed by a doctor led to a drop of 3 points.
For this specific form of depression, cysteine simply outclasses the SSRIs.
There are many more positive effects – improved respiratory health in chronic sufferers, slowed the aging process (or at least observable signs of it), reduced anxiety, greatly increased removal of heavy metals from the body… it’s hard to count it all.
There are many preparations of cysteine or cystine on the market, some nightmarishly expensive and advertised as “the only one that works”, usually with long explanations written in language difficult to understand. I guarantee, however, that ordinary n-acetyl-cysteine is enough. You should use doses from 0.5 grams to even 2-3 grams per day, broken down into portions. The dose depends on the state of health and what effect we want to achieve – it should be used differently by someone who just wants to prevent disease, and differently by someone dying of cancer.
Taking a large single dose can cause quite unpleasant gas, as the body will not have time to absorb all of it and the intestinal bacteria will turn the sulfur present in it into hydrogen sulfide.