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N-Acetyl-Cysteine for finger biting

Posted by NKP on April 9, 2020, at 17:05:38

Since 2001, I've had the bad habit of biting my fingers. Not my nails, mind you, but my actual fingers. I would bite them sometimes to the point of bleeding. I did this whenever I felt stressed or upset. It was not something that I could control: in the heat of the moment, I just did it.

Over time, ugly calluses formed where I had bitten my fingers. One time, I got an infection in the one finger; a doctor had to drain the abscess that had formed. It was very bad.

The closest condition that I could find, matching what I had, was a condition called dermatophagia, which is the biting (and eating) of one's own skin. In my case, I never ate any of the skin, I only bit my fingers.

In 2008, I sought treatment from both a psychiatrist and a psychologist for this problem. I emerged an overall better person after the treatment, but unfortunately, it helped my finger biting habit not one iota.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube, by a woman who did makeup videos, about n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). She explained that NAC had cured her years-long nail-biting habit within days of using it. She continued using it for a few months, then had to stop because she started feeling sick from it, but that even after she had stopped using it, she did not resume her nail-biting habit. The habit had been permanently broken by using NAC for a few months.

I decided to give NAC a try. I started with 600 mg per day of NAC a few months ago, and I can report that from the very first day that I started using it, I've never bitten my fingers again. It is nothing short of a miracle to me: NAC, a supplement that can be bought cheaply without a doctor's prescription, cured my finger biting habit, practically immediately, after eighteen years of this debilitating habit that had proved resistant to all other interventions that I had tried, including medication and therapy.

The explanation for this, as I understand it, is that NAC modulates glutamatergic activity in the nucleus accumbens, from where certain impulse disorders originate. I think that my finger biting was an impulsive behaviour, not an obsessive obsessive behaviour, whereas the psychiatrist who had treated me in 2008, tried to treat it as an obsessive behaviour, using an anti-depressant.

There is a significant body of research that has been done into the use of NAC to treat things like dermatophagia, trichotillomania (compulsively pulling out one's hair), dermatillomania (compulsively picking at one's skin), as well as a variety of other uses, for example, cocaine cessation; NAC has been shown to improve all of these conditions. It has also been shown to improve negative symptoms and executive brain function in things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In one's liver, NAC increases glutathione, which is a powerful anti-oxidant. This may also account for some of it's therapeutic effects.

Finally, NAC is used to protect the liver in cases of paracetamol overdose (at massive dosages however, far higher than would be used in supplement form) and to loosen mucus in the lungs in people with cystic fibrosis.

There are some studies that suggest possible lung and heart damage with long term use at high doses, and NAC may promote kidney stone formation.




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