Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) provides several benefits to the human body. This potent bile salt is naturally occurring in the gallbladder. When taken as a supplement, it accentuates those physiological roles, leading to better digestion and dampened inflammation.
Learning about the fascinating benefits of TUDCA supplements is important. However, we recommend that you measure your expectations to avoid disappointment. Additionally, you need to remember that TUDCA supplements require months of intake before they exert certain functions (more on that later).
In this article, we will briefly explain what TUDCA is and then switch gears to some evidence-based science that demonstrates the benefits of TUDCA supplements.
What is TUDCA?
TUDCA is a bile acid that we can naturally find in the body. For millennia, this substance has been used as part of Chinese medicine to manage liver and bile diseases.
Within the liver, hepatocytes (i.e., liver cells) only make small amounts of TUDCA. Therefore, many people started taking dietary supplements to reap the full benefits of this compound.
Our ancestors used this bile acid to treat fever, vision problems, liver disease, and muscle spasms. It was believed that TUDCA has powerful detox properties. While ancient civilizations did not understand the physiology of TUDCA, they were right in praising this compound.
What are the benefits of TUDCA?
TUDCA affects multiple organ systems, including:
Promotes gut health
TUDCA prevents a classic condition known as leaky gut syndrome. The latter is a relatively common digestive illness that targets the integrity of your gut lining. As a result, intestinal permeability occurs, which allows toxic substances to infiltrate your bloodstream.
Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the exact causes of leaky gut syndrome. Common hypotheses blame poor diet and high stress. However, environmental factors, such as long exposure to pesticides, also play a role.
Promotes cardiovascular health
Studies found that TUDCA aids in breaking down cholesterol molecules and excreting them from the body. Taking 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams (mg) of TUDCA per day can significantly lower your cholesterol levels. However, you need to do this for at least 6 months for the full effects to show up.
Furthermore, studies showed that TUDCA promotes the health of blood vessels by recruiting vasculogenic progenitor cells. These are responsible for repairing and replacing damaged endothelial cells.
Dampens inflammation in the brain and liver
TUDCA possesses both anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. This effect is most notable in the liver and brain. More specifically, studies found that TUDCA dampens inflammation in glial cells, which are small nerve cells that help neurons recover after injuries (e.g., strokes).
In the liver, TUDCA could slow down the progression of hepatic diseases to cirrhosis and other severe complications. However, make sure to speak with your primary care physician before taking TUDCA supplements if you have liver disease.
May help with cholestasis
Cholestasis or bile sludge is an extremely common condition characterized by the stagnation of gallstones in the bile duct. Consequently, you may experience:
- Dark-colored urine
- Light-colored feces
- Severe itching
Since TUDCA has strong effects on bile acids, it may help with reducing cholestasis.
Bile acids are indispensable for digesting fatty acids. Thanks to TUDCA, your bile acid composition and flow will improve. Both of these processes will aid in digesting your food.
Protects the liver
TUDCA and its counterpart UDCA (ursodeoxycholic acid) are both bile acids that promote liver health. For instance, some research suggests that these bile acids may help with liver disease caused by hepatitis, alcohol abuse, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Doctors diagnose liver dysfunction by running liver enzyme tests (e.g., ALT, AST, ALP). Interestingly, researchers concluded that TUDCA can dramatically lower the levels of these enzymes. Biologically speaking, this means that TUDCA actually limits the damage that your liver and gallbladder are enduring.
Protects the nervous system
TUDCA seems to have some neuroprotective effects. This compound can actually shield the neurons from oxidative stress, which is a metabolic state that contributes to strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is also some evidence that TUDCA supplements lower the number of amyloid proteins in the body. Elevated amyloid plaques are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. While we always want to prevent neurodegenerative diseases before they occur, TUDCA can still slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some health practitioners are advising the use of TUDCA to manage uncurable neurocognitive disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Improves insulin sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is the primary defect in type II diabetes. When insulin is unable to introduce glucose to the cells, you will develop hyperglycemia (i.e., high glucose levels).
Luckily, TUDCA supplements can reverse this process. In one study, researchers proved that taking TUDCA on a daily basis increases insulin sensitivity by up to 30%. The duration of intake lasted less than 4 weeks.
The potential side effects of TUDCA
In general, taking TUDCA supplements lead to no side effects when you respect the recommended doses. Taking more than 1,500 mg per day can lead to some digestive issues, including diarrhea and bloating. Fortunately, that’s all there is to it! Dozens of scientific studies found no side effects of TUDCA supplements.
With that said, we still recommend that you avoid taking TUDCA when pregnant or breastfeeding. There is limited research on the effects of TUDCA on fetuses and newborns.
Furthermore, you should be careful about taking TUDCA if you have any underlying medical conditions, especially those affecting the liver and gallbladder.
TUDCA provides the body with a number of benefits, including the detoxification of the liver and gallbladder. We suggest that you speak with your doctor before taking this supplement, especially if you have liver problems.
We hope that this article managed to shed some light on the benefits of taking TUDCA supplements and how it optimizes several organ systems.
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