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.
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