N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is sold over the counter as an herbal supplement known for its antioxidant effects. A new study finds that this herbal supplement can be effectively used to fight cocaine addiction.

Cocaine is highly addictive and a small reminder can trigger huge cocaine cravings even if people who haven’t used it in years. It can have devastating effects on the health and well being of users.

NAC has been found to be a potential agent to modulate the effects of cocaine addiction. It’s affects have been successfully trialed in animal models.

In the first part of a two-phase-study, cocaine addicted rats were treated with NAC. After the treatment, these rats were significantly less likely to seek out cocaine and showed normal food-seeking behaviors.

In the second part, a small group of non-treatment seeking cocaine-dependent subjects was investigated. They were asked to look at pictures that were either neutral or cocaine-related. Those individuals treated with NAC reported less craving for cocaine and spent less time looking at the cocaine-related pictures.

A larger clinical trial that will follow 282 cocaine-dependent individuals has just begun in order to further understand and corroborate how NAC works in the brain to reduce cocaine craving.

The widespread use of NAC in cocaine treatment is not advised until all the facts regarding this herbal supplement and cocaine addiction are fully understood.