PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE Overview Information
Phosphatidylcholine is a chemical contained in eggs, soybeans, mustard, sunflower, and other foods.
The term "phosphatidylcholine" is sometimes used interchangeably with "lecithin," although the two are different. Choline is a component of phosphatidylcholine, which is a component of lecithin. Although closely related, these terms are not the same.
Because the body uses phosphatidylcholine to make a brain chemical called acetylcholine, there is some interest in using it for treating “brain-centered” conditions such as memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, manic-depressive disorders, and a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia.
Phosphatidylcholine is also used for treating hepatitis, eczema, gallbladder disease, circulation problems, high cholesterol, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS); for improving the effectiveness of kidney dialysis; for boosting the immune system; and for preventing aging.
Healthcare providers sometimes give phosphatidylcholine intravenously (by IV) for chest pain, fat globules in the blood (fat embolism), high cholesterol, liver disease, and fatty plaque deposits in arteries.
Phosphatidylcholine is injected under the skin (subcutaneously) for treating non-cancerous fatty tumors (lipomas), excess fat around the eyelids, and yellowish cholesterol deposits just under the surface of the skin (xanthelasmas).
Phosphatidylcholine is the primary active ingredient contained in cosmetic injection products used to "dissolve" fat. These products include Lipodissolve, Lipolight, Lipolyse, Lipotherapy, and others. Some cosmetic centers in several countries initially imported a prescription intravenous drug product from Germany known as Lipostabil. They used it subcutaneously for cosmetic purposes; however, the manufacturer of this product does not promote it for this use due to lack of reliable evidence. Some countries, such as Brazil, have banned importation of this product for cosmetic use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also issued a warning to sellers of Lipostabil for making false and misleading claims and because it is an unapproved drug in the U.S.
Phosphatidylcholine injections are now often compounded in pharmacies. However, in the U.S., phosphatidylcholine, when compounded and used as an injection, is considered an unapproved drug rather than a dietary supplement.
How does it work?
The body makes a brain chemical called acetylcholine from phosphatidylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for memory and other bodily functions. Since phosphatidylcholine might increase acetylcholine, there is interest in using it for improving memory and for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Some researchers think phosphatidylcholine acts like a detergent and breaks down fat.
A certain form of phosphatidylcholine (polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine) might provide protection against liver fibrosis and liver damage caused by drinking alcohol, although the exact mechanisms are not completely understood.
Possibly Effective for:
- Hepatitis C. Taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth, together with interferon, seems to improve liver function in people with hepatitis C.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Research suggests that taking a specific phosphatidylcholine product (Sterpur P-30 Granulat, Stern-Lecithin and Soja GmbH) daily for 3 months improves symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Hepatitis A. Taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth does not seem to improve liver function in people with hepatitis A.
- Improving a medical procedure called peritoneal dialysis. Taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth does not seem to improve a medical procedure called peritoneal dialysis.
- A movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. Taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth does not seem to improve a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia.
- Liver disease caused by alcohol. Early research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine daily for 24 months does not increase survival in people with liver disease caused by drinking alcohol.
- Reducing fat deposits. Early research suggests that localized fatty deposits on the chin, thigh, hips, abdomen, back, neck, and elsewhere look smaller to study subjects after receiving injections of phosphatidylcholine under the skin. Improvements appear to last for 2-3 years or longer. In one study, 80% of patients reported improvements in facial fat deposits that lasted for up to 3 years. However, these results have been questioned because the studies were not well designed.
- Eyelid fat. There is some evidence that injecting a phosphatidylcholine solution markedly reduces bulging lower eyelid fat pads in some people. For some, benefits appeared to last for 9 months to 2 years or longer.
- Declining brain function caused by liver disease. Research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine daily for 6-8 weeks does not improve declining brain function in people with liver disease or liver failure.
- Hepatitis B. Studies regarding hepatitis B show conflicting results. It is not clear if phosphatidylcholine is beneficial.
- Inability to break down cholesterol in the body. Research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine does not reduce cholesterol levels in the body of people who are unable to break down cholesterol
- Treating non-cancerous fatty tumors (lipomas). There is one report that injecting a phosphatidylcholine solution directly into a lipoma can shrink the tumor by about 35%. However, this treatment might cause an unwanted reaction in the lipoma.
- Memory loss. There is early evidence that taking a single 25 mg dose of phosphatidylcholine (PC-55, TwinLab) can improve some measures of memory in healthy college students.
- Eyelid fat. There is some evidence that injecting a phosphatidylcholine solution reduces bulging lower eyelid fat pads in some people.
- Gallbladder disease.
- Manic-depressive illness.
- Circulation disorders of the arms and legs.
- Weight loss.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Alzheimer's disease.
- Depressed immunity.
- Preventing aging.
- Other conditions.
PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE Side Effects & Safety
Phosphatidylcholine is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or when injected just beneath the skin, short-term. The safety of long-term use is not known.
When phosphatidylcholine is taken by mouth, it can sometimes cause excessive sweating, stomach upset, and diarrhea.
Phosphatidylcholine injections can cause irritation, swelling, redness, itching, burning, bruising, and pain at the injection site. These side effects usually go away over a period of several days.
If phosphatidylcholine is injected directly into a fatty growth (lipoma), it might cause an inflammatory reaction that could make the tumor more fibrous. In one reported case, the patient who had this done had to have the lipoma removed by surgery.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking phosphatidylcholine when you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs) interacts with PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE
Some drying medications are called anticholinergic drugs. Phosphatidylcholine might increase chemicals that can decrease the effects of these drying medications.
Some drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines) and for depression (antidepressants).
- Medications for Alzheimer's disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors) interacts with PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE
Phosphatidylcholine might increase a chemical in the body called acetylcholine. Medications for Alzheimer's called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors also increase the chemical acetylcholine. Taking phosphatidylcholine along with medications for Alzheimer's disease might increase effects and side effects of medications for Alzheimer's disease.
Some medications called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors include donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Reminyl, Razadyne).
- Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs) interacts with PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE
Phosphatidylcholine might increase a chemical in the body called acetylcholine. This chemical is similar to some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions. Taking phosphatidylcholine with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.
Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), and others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For hepatitis C: 1.8 grams of lecithin, which contains phosphatidylcholine, used daily with a medication called interferon.