Help for compulsive disorder

N-acetyl-cysteine reduced symptoms of trichotillomania, the constant urge to pull one’s hair.

Doctors in a trichotillomania (TTM) study noted that N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) helps regulate glutamate, one of the most common nerve signaling chemicals in the brain and prior studies have shown NAC eased other repetitive or compulsive disorders. Researchers gave 45 women and five men with TTM, average age 34, 1,200 mg to 1,400 mg of NAC per day or a placebo. After nine weeks, 56 percent of those who took NAC were much, or very much, improved compared to 16 percent for placebo.

Scientists explained that people with TTM pull their hair as a way to cope with anxiety and other difficult emotions. TTM does not hurt and those with TTM are not trying to damage themselves. Study authors noted that virtually all brain functions involve glutamate and believe this is the first attempt to modify glutamate nerve signal activity to treat TTM.

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