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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.
July 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm
(1) Hair-puller says:

How can we obtain this supplement in Canada (Toronto) ??

July 24, 2009 at 6:18 am
(2) nomi says:

Can you tell me what the side effects are?

July 27, 2009 at 3:14 am
(3) Jesse says:

Interesting post. It is amazing that these simple amino acids can have so many extraordinary uses. Many amino acids can help treat more than one condition too. I couldn’t imagine having a condition where I was pulling my hair out, i’m glad people with this condition at least have the information on this amino acid that can help

December 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm
(4) alex abela says:

Hello i have two girl twins of 3 years. They have Trichotillomania from 11 months.Are these pills good for this small age also?What are there side effects?

May 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm
(5) James says:

This amino acid pill absolutely works, I have been using it consistently and have been pull free ever since. Brain chemistry and the hair pull impulse urge have some kind of relation to the N-acetyl-L-Cysteine. GET a 600mg time released capsule Bottle or product from a Nutrition store.
Email me: jamesinaustin@rocketmail.com

May 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm
(6) Greg says:

Hi Cathy –

We would recommend using NAC only as a secondary treatment. There are two reasons for this. First, NAC works on glutamate, which is a secondary excitatory neurotransmitter. What you really need to do is get the primary neurotransmitter balance under control, then the secondary neurotransmitters that NAC affects will self-regulate. Also, you have to be careful to balance the excitatory neurotransmitters with the inhibitory transmitters. Using only NAC will cause an imbalance, and only worsen the problem. It’s detailed on our post Supplement May Not Make You Able to Stop Pulling Hair Out. Thanks for making people aware of this treatment, and starting some conversation about it.

August 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm
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