PC is necessary for the composition and repair of cell membranes and is vital for normal liver function. Research indicates PC’s most beneficial role is in the prevention and treatment of various forms of liver disease and toxicity. PC protects liver cells from viral damage, reduces fibrosis, and prevents cell death from drugs, alcohol and other chemical toxins.
Several studies have shown PC’s protective and healing effect on patients with hepatitis A, B and C. In a double blind trial published in the journal Liver, PC administration for chronic, active hepatitis resulted in significant reduction of disease activity. Another study in Hepatology, revealed that choline-deficient patients had a reversal of hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver disease, upon choline supplementation. Additionally, a study from the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, resulted in PC protection of rat liver cells from alcohol-induced toxicity. The authors propose that phosphatidylcholine reduces cell death through a reduction in oxidative stress.
Phosphatidylcholine is a major lipid in the protective mucus layer of the gastrointestinal tract. It can mitigate GI injury by exerting an anti-inflammatory effect. A recent study in BMC Gastroenterology, shows that PC inhibits pro-inflammatory substances and is beneficial for those suffering from ulcerative colitis.
Emerging evidence also indicates that PC can protect the stomach and intestinal lining from the damaging effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs. Using a combined product of the NSAID, naproxen and PC, a study in Inflammopharmacology states that ” Naproxen-PC appears to induce significantly less GI injury and bleeding in two rodent model systems while maintaining anti-inflammatory and COX-inhibitory activity.”
Phosphatidylcholine’s importance in cell membrane integrity and intracellular communication has led to research in the area of neurology. Although studies are limited, data suggests PC supplementation can reduce symptoms of illnesses associated with low levels of acetylcholine including, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Huntington’s chorea, Tourette’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Results from a study in the Journal Proteome Research, revealed that lipid abnormalities within the brain and blood may be factors in the disease processes of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Because the phosphate group in the phospholipid is charged, it allows this lipid to mix with both fat and water, making it amphipathic. This is why phospholipids are able make up the outer membranes of cells. Phospholipids form a double-layer membrane — or bilayer — around the contents of the cell, with the phosphate heads facing both the inside and outside of the cell, and the fatty acids in rows that face each other within the membrane, helping to form a water-repelling barrier. This barrier keeps the aqueous contents of the cell separate from the aqueous exterior. However, the phospholipid membrane does allows small — albeit important — molecules to pass into and out of the cell, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide.
While phospholipids are important as cell membranes, that’s not their only role in your body. These fats are also crucial for digestion. In the stomach, phospholipids help break fats down so they’re easier to digest, and in the small intestine, the phospholipids in bile help emulsify fats so they can be carried in blood.