trichotillomania research

A 2009 study shows an amino acid called NAC (N-acetylcysteine) may be effective at treating trichotillomania. NAC is a form of the amino acid, cysteine and can be found in most health food shops. This powerful antioxidant naturally occurs in many foods and helps the body metabolise omega-3 fatty acids. Natural sources include chicken, brussels sprouts, broccoli, eggs. Significantly, adding NAC as a dietary supplement reduces insulin levels and improves the body’s synthesis of insulin. Other benefits from taking NAC include help to eliminate toxins, especially those from heavy toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. It has very few reported side effects and can be taken in large doses (consult your doctor before taking it, particularly if you have diabetes or are on medication). You can buy NAC from Health Food shops, online at Healthspan and Amazon as well as other websites.

NAC is restorative in the area of the brain most affected by glutamate and trichotillomania.

Once again, PLEASE consult your doctor before taking any supplements. NAC should not be taken if you are asthmatic, diabetic, pregnant or breast-feeding or if you have any heart, kidney or lung problems.

Don’t expect dramatic improvements – and certainly not before about 10 weeks of use.

We suggest supplementing for a full year as it could take that long to redress any deficiencies within your body.

Trials were undertaken with volunteers not knowing whether they were given placebos, or the NAC supplement, the NAC group showed significant reduction in hair pulling.

However, we have always seen significant improvement when people have been asked to regularly report on their pulling symptoms, so we do need your help in further trials.

Scientific report of the study investigating the effects of N-Acetylcysteine, a Glutamate Modulator, in the Treatment of Trichotillomania

Updated 17 July 2022 review 18 July 2023