What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Lecithin Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of Lecithin on Bipolar Disorder

Lecithin contains a substance called phosphatidylcholine (PC) that is presumed to be responsible for its medicinal effects. Phosphatidylcholine is a major part of the membranes surrounding our cells....

Read more about Bipolar Disorder and Lecithin.

Effect of Lecithin on Viral Hepatitis

Lecithin contains a substance called phosphatidylcholine (PC) that is presumed to be responsible for its medicinal effects. Research has shown that PC enhanced the effect of interferon in people...

Read more about Viral Hepatitis and Lecithin.

Therapeutic Uses

For a while, lecithin/phosphatidylcholine was one of the most commonly recommended natural treatments for high cholesterol . However, this idea appears to rest entirely on studies of unacceptably low quality. 1 The best designed studies have failed to find any evidence of benefit. 2 In Europe, phosphatidylcholine is also used to treat liver diseases , such as alcoholic fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis , liver cirrhosis , and viral hepatitis . However, research into these potential uses remains preliminary and has yielded contradictory results. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Researchers have recently become interested in the use of phosphadylcholine as a supportive treatment in severe ulcerative colitis . There may be an insufficient quantity of phosphatidylcholine in the mucus lining the colon in patients with ulcerative colitis. Taking phosphatidylcholine may correct this deficiency. A small double-blind, placebo controlled study of 60 patients whose ulcerative colitis was poorly responsive to corticosteroids were randomized to receive either phosphadylcholine (2 g per day) or placebo for 12 weeks. 13 Half of the participants taking phosphadylcholine showed a significant improvement in symptoms versus only 10% taking placebo. Moreover, 80% taking phosphadylcholine were able to completely discontinue their corticosteroids without disease flare-up compared to 10% taking placebo.

Some evidence hints that phosphatidylcholine may reduce homocysteine levels , which in turn was for a time thought likely to reduce heart disease risk. 14 Because phosphatidylcholine plays a role in nerve function, it has also been suggested as a treatment for various psychological and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease , bipolar disorder , Parkinson's disease , Tourette's syndrome, and tardive dyskinesia (a late-developing side effect of drugs used for psychosis). However, the evidence that it works is limited to small studies with conflicting results. 15


  1. Wojcicki J, Pawlik A, Samochowiec L, et al. Clinical evaluation of lecithin as a lipid-lowering agent. Phytother Res. 1995;9:597-599.
  2. Oosthuizen W, Vorster HH, Vermaak, WJ, et al. Lecithin has no effect on serum lipoprotein, plasma fibrinogen and macro molecular protein complex levels in hyperlipidaemic men in a double-blind controlled study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1998;52:419-424.
  3. Buchman AL, Dubin M, Jenden D, Moukarzel A, Roch MH, Rice K, Gornbein J, Ament ME, Eckhert CD. Lecithin increases plasma free choline and decreases hepatic steatosis in long-term total parenteral nutrition patients. Gastroenterology. 102(4 Pt 1):1363-70.
  4. Guan R, Ho KY, Kang JY, Yap I, Gwee KA, Tan CC. The effect of polyunsaturated phosphatidyl choline in the treatment of acute viral hepatitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 9(6):699-703.
  5. Lieber CS, Robins SJ, Li J, DeCarli LM, Mak KM, Fasulo JM, Leo MA. Phosphatidylcholine protects against fibrosis and cirrhosis in the baboon. Gastroenterology. 106(1):152-9.
  6. Lieber CS, DeCarli LM, Mak KM, Kim CI, Leo MA. Attenuation of alcohol-induced hepatic fibrosis by polyunsaturated lecithin. Hepatology. 12(6):1390-8.
  7. Lieber CS, Leo MA, Mak KM, DeCarli LM, Sato S. Choline fails to prevent liver fibrosis in ethanol-fed baboons but causes toxicity. Hepatology. 5(4):561-72.
  8. Lieber CS, Rubin E. Alcoholic fatty liver. N Engl J Med. 1969;280:705-708.
  9. Schuller-Perez A, Gonzalez San Martin F. A controlled study with polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine compared to placebo in alcoholic steatosis of the liver [translated from German]. Med Welt. 1985;36:517-521.
  10. Knuchel F. Double-blind study in patients with alcoholic toxic fatty liver. Effect of essential phospholipids on enzyme behavior and lipid composition of the serum [translated from German]. Med Welt. 1979;30:411-416.
  11. Jenkins PJ, Portmann BP, Eddleston AL, et al. Use of polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine in HBsAg negative chronic active hepatitis: results of prospective double-blind controlled trial. Liver. 1982;2:77-81.
  12. Niederau C, Strohmeyer G, Heintges T, Peter K, Göpfert E. Polyunsaturated phosphatidyl-choline and interferon alpha for treatment of chronic hepatitis B and C: a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Leich Study Group. Hepatogastroenterology. 45(21):797-804.
  13. Stremmel W, Ehehalt R, Autschbach F, Karner M. Phosphatidylcholine for steroid-refractory chronic ulcerative colitis: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 147(9):603-10.
  14. Olthof MR, Brink EJ, Katan MB, Verhoef P. Choline supplemented as phosphatidylcholine decreases fasting and postmethionine-loading plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 82(1):111-7.
  15. Stoll AL, Sachs GS, Cohen BM, Lafer B, Christensen JD, Renshaw PF. Choline in the treatment of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder: clinical and neurochemical findings in lithium-treated patients. Biol Psychiatry. 40(5):382-8.


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