Thursday, June 16, 2011

Great News! FINALLY! An Amino Acid Proven to Help Hair Pullers (Skin Pickers too)

Let me say first, thanks to Dr. Jon Grant, there is something you can start taking immediately that will very likely reduce your hair pulling*. Not only that, it's good for your health! I've helped people reduce or cease their hair pulling without any supplementation or meds, but NAC may well substantially reduce the amount of time it takes and improve the results one gets. I'll give you specific info on dosing and a link to the study and to a video of Dr. Grant discussing the study, below. (*Dr. Grant says skin pickers very likely will be helped too, and has seen this, but this study was focused on hair pulling. More research is being done on NAC and skin picking but it looks good.

As truly exciting as the NAC study is, it is crucial to understand IT IS NOT A MAGIC BULLET (though it will help!) My experience suggests that there are several things that must be addressed in order to truly recover from hair pulling and skin picking, but to have the physical urge reduced will make it substantially easier to recover. These areas (which I will outline in detail in future posts) are 1) Mindfulness (learning how to notice the kinds of thoughts that affect mood, self esteem and procrastination); 2) Learning to identify "addictive" thoughts just beneath conscious awareness in which you give yourself "permission" to pull or pick (even while more conscious thoughts appear to be, "don't pull," and "don't
pick"; and 3) Understanding the role "Perfectionism" (and its flip side, procrastination) plays in the psychological desire to pull or pick.

Until very recently, there has been no drug or supplement that has been proven to significantly help hair pullers reduce their behavior. Researcher Jon Grant, MD, JD, MPH, of the University of Minnesota, Department of Psychiatry, who ithin the Science Advisory Board of the Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC) has changed all that. There finally is something hair pullers can take to make it far easier to reduce hair pulling behavior.

The results of Grant's study, published in the July 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, are quite promising. In a double blind study, 56% of subjects who took at least 2400 mg a day of NAC (four 600-mg capsules) for at least nine weeks saw a *significant*
reduction in hair pulling compared to 16% of subjects who took a placebo. No antidepressant or
any other substance has has results like these. Dr. Grant had initially thought one might get results with 1200 mg a day, however he has since revised that opinion and believes 2400 to 3600 mg is needed. So if you tried NAC at 1200 mg and nothing happened, that doesn't mean it won't. Grant says levels of NAC of up to 3600 mg are safe (and the supplement also has been
shown to strengthen the immune system and helps prevent liver damage from substances like Tylenol and other OTC drugs.) So it's not just safe, it's good for you.

Dr. Grant suggests that you take NAC as follows: 600mg am* and 600mg pm* for two weeks WITH Vitamin C. 1200mg am and 1200mg pm for two weeks WITH Vitamin C. You may then go up to 1800mg am and 1800mg pm with Vitamin C and in one more week go up to 2400mg. Dr. Grant says that 3600mg is safe and may be necessary. I have my clients go up to 3600mg, 1800mg in the am, 1800 in the pm.

The study suggests that it is VERY important to take Vitamin C daily with NAC. Dr. Grant says you may need 2-3 times the daily recommended requirement of vitamin C (and possibly zinc &
copper) when taking NAC long term. He recommends a Vitamin C complex tab daily. Taking one 1000+ mg a day should be sufficient.

Although you can buy N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) at most vitamin stores or Whole Foods, and it isn't especially expensive, since you'll need 4 to 6 pills (600mg) a day, it's important to get the best possible price. (You can buy a bottle of 60 600-mg tabs for about $10 at Whole Foods if you want to get started. However sells 100 600mg tablets for under $6.89 (It's an amino acid- it's all the same stuff.) At that price, it costs about $7.50 for a month supply at 4 a day (2400) and about $13 a month if you take 6 a day (3600), which most adults need.

Here is a link to the abstract:

More info on if you put in NAC in the search engine.