May 27, 2016

Phosphatidylcholine

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What other names is Phosphatidylcholine known by?

1,2-diacyl-:ussn:ueglycero-3-phosphocholine, Fosfatidilcolina, Lipodissolve, Lipolight, Lipolyse, Lipothérapie, Lipotherapy, Phosphatidyl Choline, Phospholipid, Phospholipide, Phospholipon, Polyenylphosphatidylcholine, Polyénylphosphatidylcholine, PtdCho.

What is Phosphatidylcholine?

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.

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.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anxiety.
  • Eczema.
  • 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.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of phosphatidylcholine for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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