N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC)-containing supplements are widely propagated for hangover prevention, although there’s been no scientific evidence backing this claims. First-ever results from a placebo-controlled hangover trial now became available.
The popular supplements are useless. NAC does not prevent hangover.
This blog has written extensively in finnish about a scam product by Rohtos Labs from Oulu. Called SUOJA – formerly Detoxformula -, it contains NAC as main ingredience, and was sold internationally.
The world’s first-ever placebo-controlled trial of NAC in hangover prevention was conducted already in August – December 2015 in Pennsylvania, US. Run by the St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network, it enrolled 62 people and used a crossover design.
49 participants had analysable data. They were randomized in groups of 23 and 26. 2/3 were male, race was not recorded. Alcoholism was an exclusion criterium. Outcome measure was the Hangover Symptoms Scale (HSS), which has 13 items á 4 pts max. The worst (but unimaginable) hangover thus would score 52 pts.
Participants drank beer until reaching a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1. The number of drinks was recorded, and NAC 600mg capsules were given, 1 caps for 3 drinks. The next morning, participants filled out the HSS questionnaire.
The results should make NAC sellers and users feel uncomfortable: NAC and placebo had exactly the same effect. The HSS scores were 0-35 and 0-38, respectively. That means, that hangover really occured and the alcohol dose was sufficient – as should have been the NAC dose.
Still worse, NAC had significantly more side effects than placebo. In the Acetylcysteine group, 22% of users experienced adverse effects, while in the placebo group adverse reactions were registered in only 8%.
These results became available a few days ago through the Study results-tab of the trial’s registry entry at clinicaltrials.gov. Ahead or in place of a peer-reviewed publication, they went completely unnoticed by the supplements community.
This demonstrates again, how dietary supplements are used without justification, based only on lab studies. Rarely such useless and potentially hazardous “biohacks” get so cleanly refuted as in this case.
The second, bigger NAC study with 200 participants was now terminated early. Obviously it was deemed futile to try to demonstrate a non-existent effect.