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Cathy Wong, ND

Supplement May Help Stop Trichotillomania

By July 22, 2009

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Taking supplements containing N-Acetylcysteine (an amino acid with antioxidant effects) may help tame trichotillomania, a condition marked by a compulsive urge to pull out hair from your scalp.

For a recent study, 50 people with trichotillomania took either an N-Acetylcysteine supplement or placebo pill daily. At the start of the study, patients in the supplement group were given 1,200 mg of N-Acetylcysteine each day; after six weeks, their dosage was increased to 2,400 mg a day. After nine weeks, members of the supplement group had significantly decreased hair-pulling. And by the end of the 12-week study, 56 percent of patients in the supplement group reported feeling much improved, while only 16 percent of participants taking the placebo pill reported less hair-pulling.

According to the study's authors, N-Acetylcysteine appears to moderate levels of glutamate (a brain chemical known to trigger excitement). By altering glutamate levels in a specific brain region, the authors suggest, N-Acetylcysteine may help trichotillomania patients control their compulsive behavior.

Past studies indicate that biofeedback and hypnotherapy may also benefit people with trichotillomania.
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