Phosphatidylcholine
Phosphatidylcholine

Background

Phosphatidylcholine is a chemical contained in eggs, soybeans, mustard, sunflower, and other foods. It is found naturally in the body in all cells. Phosphatidylcholine is also a source of choline in the body.

Phosphatidylcholine is used for ulcerative colitis. There is some scientific research that supports this use.

Phosphatidylcholine is also used for memory loss, Alzheimer disease, and liver disease, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Phosphatidylcholine is also used in cosmetic injections for "dissolving" fat, but these are considered unapproved drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When taken by mouth: Phosphatidylcholine is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, in a dose up to 30 grams per day for 6 weeks, or up to 6 grams per day for 2 years. When phosphatidylcholine is taken by mouth, it can sometimes cause excessive sweating, stomach upset, and diarrhea.

When given as a shot: Phosphatidylcholine is POSSIBLY SAFE when given as an injection under the skin for up to 5 doses spread 2-4 weeks apart. The 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. Sometimes, phosphatidylcholine might cause gastrointestinal upset, like bloating, diarrhea, and nausea.

If phosphatidylcholine is injected directly into a non-cancerous fatty tumor (lipoma), it might cause a reaction that could make the tumor more fibrous, needing surgery to remove it.

When applied to the skin: Phosphatidylcholine is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin for up to 12 weeks.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy: Phosphatidylcholine is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth.

Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if phosphatidylcholine is safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Research suggests that taking various types of phosphatidylcholine daily for up to 3 months improves symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (hepatitis A). Taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth does not seem to improve liver function in people with hepatitis A.
  • Infant development. Taking phosphatidylcholine during pregnancy does not seem to improve the brain development of the infant.
  • 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 often caused by antipsychotic drugs (tardive dyskinesia). Taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth does not seem to improve tardive dyskinesia.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Acne. Early research suggests that applying a cream containing 4% niacinamide and phosphatidylcholine to the skin seems to improve acne in some people.
  • Liver disease in people who drink alcohol. Early research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine daily for 24 months does not increase survival in people with liver disease who drink alcohol.
  • Reducing fat deposits. Early research suggests that injections of phosphatidylcholine under the skin may make fatty deposits on the chin, thigh, hips, abdomen, back, neck, and elsewhere look smaller to some people. Improvements appear to last for 2-3 years or longer. In one study, 80% of patients reported improvements in facial fat that lasted for up to 3 years. However, these results have been questioned because the studies were not well designed.
  • Reduced brain function in people with advanced liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy). Research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine daily for 6-8 weeks does not improve declining brain function in people with liver disease or liver failure.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (hepatitis B). Studies of phosphatidylcholine for hepatitis B show conflicting results. It is not clear if phosphatidylcholine is beneficial.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (hepatitis C). Early research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine by mouth, together with interferon, seems to improve liver function in people with hepatitis C.
  • High levels of lipoproteins in the blood (hyperlipoproteinemia). Early research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine does not reduce lipoprotein levels in people with hyperlipoproteinemia.
  • 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.
  • Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Early research suggests that taking phosphatidylcholine might improve liver function in people with NAFLD.
  • Memory. There is early evidence that taking a single 25 mg dose of phosphatidylcholine 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.
  • Aging.
  • Diseases, such as Alzheimer disease, that interfere with thinking (dementia).
  • Chest pain (angina).
  • Anxiety.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Gallbladder disease.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Narrowing of blood vessels that causes poor blood flow to the limbs (peripheral arterial disease).
  • High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia).
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of phosphatidylcholine for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis): 1-6 grams daily taken in 4 divided doses.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Phosphatidylcholine interacts with any medicines. Before taking Phosphatidylcholine, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.

Action

The body makes a chemical called acetylcholine from phosphatidylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for memory and other functions in the body. Phosphatidylcholine might help to protect the wall of the large intestine in people with a type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis).
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This monograph was last reviewed on 30/04/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 30/11/2021 04:49:40. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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