There’s exciting news for people suffering from trichotillomania. “Tric” is a disorder that causes people to pull hair from their head or body, often leaving bald patches. The problem can vary in severity, from a mild inclination to strong and irresistible urges that can affect the quality of life.
Research lead by Jon Grant, MD, shows that a common dietary supplement, N-acetylcysteine can offer relief to some hair pullers. N-acetylcysteine is an amino acid easily located in natural food stores. It plays a role in modulating levels of glutamate in the brain.
50 men and women aged aged 18 to 65 with the hair-pulling disorder were assigned to 12 weeks of treatment with N-acetylcysteine or placebo therapy. All participants were given N-acetylcysteine, 1200 mg/d (milligrams per day), or matching placebo for 6 weeks. At week 6, the dose was increased to 2400 mg/d for the remaining 6 weeks of the study. (The dose was increased unless clinical improvement had been seen at the lower dose.)
Over half of those in the study reported significant improvement from the supplement.
Full text of the research is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, July 2009.