WOW!! Did we hear that right??!
Medical doctors are branching out in their search for effective treatments for schizophrenic patients. You see while most of the drugs available currently for this condition are aimed at reducing ‘positive symptoms’, however they can often make patients’ ‘negative symptoms’ worse or simply fail to improve these in the same way
Need a quick lesson in positive and negative symptoms? Sure thing! In schizophrenia positive symptoms are the ones most typically associated with schizophrenia or psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thoughts and sensory processing deficits. While experiences such as apathy, anhedonia, lack of energy and impaired cognition and all the way through to catatonia, are referred to as negative. Different patients will have their own mix of these as part of the condition but generally, as you can imagine, both are severely debilitating and impair an individual’s ability to function well.
Enter N-acetylcysteine (or NAC to friends!)…..
The neuroprotective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and glutamatergic properties of NAC have been shown to significantly improve the ‘negative symptoms’ of schizophrenia in recent trials, when given in conjunction with an antipsychotic drug, over a one year period. There is also hope that NAC may prevent the progression of brain mass loss that is consistently observed in schizophrenic patients. Dopamine-receptor agonists (antipsychotics), which are the go-to treatment for schizophrenia, potentiate the negative symptoms of the disease and contribute to brain mass loss.
AND!! That’s not all folks! For the Herbalists out there…
Trials using Withania have also resulted in “significantly greater reductions in negative, general and total symptoms…in comparison with placebo.”
One doctor from the Semel Institute at the University of California went as far as to say he “used to be skeptical about the utility of herbals and nutraceuticals” but he “now believe(s) this is an up and coming field”!! Good news all round!! Serious kudos and credit must be piled enthusiastically on Professor Michael Berk, the prominent Australian psychiatrist, whose pioneering work in the field of NAC in mental health has paved the way for truly attitude-changing studies like these.
For Medscape subscribers – read the full article online: Nutraceuticals May Treat Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia – Medscape – Jun 13, 2018.
For those of you who’d like to know more about NAC in Mental Health, we have just what you need…a presentation brings you up to date with the latest in NAC research in a large number of mental health conditions & translates this into the clinical context.
NAC in Mental Health
Previous ideas regarding the pathophysiology of mental illness have been profoundly challenged in recent times, particularly in light of the limited success of the pharmaceuticals that ‘should have worked better’ had our hypotheses been correct.