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Veterinarian Reviewed on January 9, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized



Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid that is biosynthesized in the human body under normal conditions. It is also found in foods that are rich in high quality protein such as pork, chicken, eggs, whey protein, cheeses and also in plant sources like onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts and wheat germ. Cysteine can also be manufactured industrially through the hydrolysis of human hair and most recently, duck feathers.

Cysteine is found to be a treatment for medical conditions such as angina, respiratory illnesses, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, AIDS symptoms and may be a promising supplement to prevent many types of cancers.

History and Origin

Cysteine may also be used as a supplement in the form of N-acetyl-L-cysteine. The body converts this chemical into cysteine through biosynthesis and then into glutathione which is considered a powerful antioxidant. Since cysteine is easily derived from most high quality protein sources (plant and animal sources) it may not be difficult to obtain it through diet alone.

Ancient Uses

The use of cysteine during ancient times was nonexistent but the natural sources of cysteine are considered a staple food of many ancient tribes and cultures. Meat and meat byproducts are all used as food plus protein plant sources such as green leafy vegetables, whole wheat and lentils are also cultivated and are used as food sources.

Modern Uses

During modern times, cysteine has been found to benefit the many metabolic processes of the human body as well as biosynthesis of many chemicals in the body as well. Cysteine is also found to have therapeutic properties and may even cure or treat many conditions or illnesses.

Overdose of alcohol and acetaminophen is treated with an Intravenous injection of cysteine. It can prevent subsequent liver and kidney damage that is common in overdoes of harmful chemicals, medicines and other substances.

People who have heart conditions and may have angina attacks may benefit from a combination treatment of cysteine and nitroglycerin. Clinical trials have revealed that there is promising results of decreased angina attacks in people who had this combination therapy as compared to people who just took nitroglycerin or cysteine alone.

Cysteine may also be useful in the treatment of the many conditions of the respiratory system like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. As a supplement, it may also be a promising treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and AIDS/HIV.
In the treatment of cataracts, cysteine is found to be beneficial in the treatment of cataract symptoms as well as macular degeneration.

Cysteine is also a possible treatment for infertility when combined with infertility drugs and may also be the cure for polycystic ovary disease as opposed to surgery.

Side Effects

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are not advised to take cysteine supplements or medications with this formulation. Even as a form of dietary supplement, cysteine may also cause interactions or adverse drug interactions. It is therefore important to seek the opinion of a doctor if you want to use this chemical or supplement for your illness.

Orally, cysteine may cause nausea, vomiting and in rare cases, diarrhea. Never self medicate with this supplement and ask a medical professional regarding the desired dosage for your conditions. Extremely high doses of more than 7 grams may cause cell toxicity and may even lead to death.

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Read also: Red Peony Root

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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