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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Lecithin?

For decades, lecithin has been a popular treatment for high cholesterol (although there is surprisingly little evidence that it works). More recently, lecithin has been proposed as a remedy for various psychological and neurological diseases, such as Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, and bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression).

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. However, when you consume this substance it is broken down into the nutrient cholinerather than being carried directly to cell membranes. Choline acts like folate, TMG (trimethylglycine), and SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) to promote...

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...

Safety Issues

Lecithin is believed to be generally safe. However, some people taking high dosages (several grams daily) experience minor but annoying side effects, such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea. Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined.

Also, because lecithin is typically derived from soy, people with soy allergies may want to avoid it.