Lecithin is an excellent part of any gallbladder recovery supplementation protocol.
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
Lecithin and/or phophatidylcholine are both extremely important nutrients to consider for gallbladder health and healing. The primary focuse of this article will be on phosphatidylcholine, but I’ll discuss lecithin from time to time since lecithin contains high levels of phosphatidylcholine.
What is phosphatidylcholine (PC)?
Phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid that contains choline as its headgroup (in contrast with other phospholipids, like phosphatidylserine, that contain the amino acid serine as a headgroup). It is found in dietary sources like egg yolks, soybeans, fish, and some meats, and may also be taken as a supplement or administered via IV for the treatment of disease. Phosphatidylcholine is an essential part of the cellular membrane, and therefore obtaining adequate levels of PC in the diet or through supplementation of some kind is incredibly important for maintaining the integrity of cells throughout the body, including those of the liver and gallbladder.
Foods that naturally contain lecithin (naturally, not as an additive), and therefore also phosphatidylcholine, include the following:
- Organ meats (liver meat specifically)
- Eggs (the egg yolk is the richest source)
- Red meat
- Soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, and other legumes
- Wheat germ
- Green vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.)
- Flaxseed oil
For people who are unable to obtain supplements of either phosphatidylcholine or lecithin, but who want to work with these substances to heal the gallbladder, consuming at least one of these foods in a somewhat larger quantity each day is one way to incorporate these nutrients into your gallbladder healing protocol. Having a bean soup once or twice a week, an egg with yolk each morning, or having steamed green veggies every day (pick a different veggie or mix them up depending on the day) for lunch are all good examples of incorporating these foods into your daily diet. The Budwig Smoothie with flaxseed oil is another good recipe to incorporate into your daily meals at least once (make sure to eat it while sitting in the sun for maximum benefit!).
How Phosphatidylcholine and Lecithin Can Heal the Gallbladder
Lecithin is an emulsifier that prevents the accumulation of fat in arteries and lowers cholesterol throughout the body. As an emulsifier, it can also improve fat digestion. Lecithin is a natural laxative that can improve the frequency and quality of bowel movements, therefore supporting detox and general health.
Numerous studies have shown that increasing phosphatidylcholine and/or lecithin in a person’s diet can reduce the incidence of gallstone development, diminish gallstone size, or both. In one study, 8 patients with diagnosed gallstones were administered 100mg (a low dose) of phosphatidylcholine daily over the course of 18-24 months. One patient in the study experienced a decrease in the size of their gallstones, and the other patients all demonstrated decreased cholesterol levels in their bile and an increase in the phospholipid content of the bile (both positive factors for preventing future gallstone development).
In a different study on rats, a phosphatidylcholine enriched diet was shown to reduce the cholesterol saturation index of the rats’ bile (indicating a decreased likelihood of the development of cholesterol gallstones. The rats in this study were fed a lithogenic diet over the course of either 4 weeks or 8 weeks. Those rats fed the diet over 4 weeks developed gallstones in 47% of cases, while those fed this diet over 8 weeks developed gallstones 89% of the time. When 6% phosphatidylcholine was added into the lithogenic diet, in all cases the cholesterol saturation index of the rats’ bile was reduced (though this index was still higher than rats that had been fed a healthier diet overall). Therefore, eating a healthy diet (not a lithogenic one) and supplementing with phosphatidylcholine may significantly reduce a person’s chances of developing gallstones, and may even dissolve those that already exist in some cases.
In contrast, in a different study, a group of patients were given 4.5g of soybean lecithin daily for 3 weeks, and did not show any changes to gallstone size or biliary content. Given, the studies that did demonstrate successful results generally ran at least twice as long as this one, and so one could assume that perhaps the unsuccessful results of this particular study have to do with an improper timeframe (some medicines do take more time to work than others, and indeed, dissolving gallstones can take some time). Nevertheless, it’s still important to note that studies exist that contradict the ones mentioned above so that readers can make their own assumptions.
Other medicinal effects of phosphatidylcholine/lecithin that have been studied include its antiinflammatory properties, its healing effects on the liver in particular, and its general cholesterol-lowering abilities. Other gallbladder conditions like acalculous gallbladder disease, cholecystitis, strawberry gallbladder/cholesterolosis of the gallbladder, gallbladder cancer, and cholangitis specifically may benefit from treatment with phosphatidylcholine or lecithin.
Other Medicinal Uses of Phosphatidylcholine and Lecithin
Phosphatidylcholine and/or lecithin can also be used therapeutically for the treatment of different diseases and disorders, including (but not limited to):
- Insomnia/sleep disorders
- High cholesterol
- Ulcerative colitis
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
How to Take Phosphatidylcholine/Lecithin for Gallbladder Disease
Phosphatidylcholine may be available to be administered via IV in some boutique health clinics or it may be taken as an oral supplement (follow the instructions on the bottle for dosing guidelines). Some people may choose to take lecithin supplements instead, since this is also a good source of phosphatidylcholine and sometimes a more accessible option than an actual phosphatidylcholine supplement.
Lecithin should be taken at a dose of 4-8 tablespoons of granular lecithin per day for adults, or 1 teaspoon daily for children. Start with a lower dose and work your way up, and stay at a dose that you feel is therapeutic (taking too much lecithin can interfere with calcium absorption, so don’t go beyond this dosage). Once your symptoms clear up, you can reduce your dosage to only 1 tablespoon of granular lecithin daily. Lecithin can be mixed in water or a smoothie (or even fresh juice), or it can be sprinkled on top of salads or mixed into sauces. Though it’s possible to take capsulized lecithin, a therapeutic dose requires that you take 9 capsules of 1200mg each to equal 1 tablespoon of the granular lecithin.
Do not take high levels of lecithin over a long period of time. When you feel that you’re mostly recovered, reduce the dosage down to 1 tablespoon maximum of granular lecithin per day.
Some of the possible side effects of lecithin use include:
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Increased salivation
- Allergic reaction (this is very rare)
Phosphatidylcholine and lecithin are likely very safe in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, but as with any substance, it’s best to only use these nutrients in small quantities at first, and to only do so under the supervision of a medical professional.
 Wikipedia (2022). Phosphatidylcholine. Retrieved June 23, 2022 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphatidylcholine
 Christiansen, Sherry (2021). What is Lecithin? Retrieved June 23, 2022 from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/lecithin-4771091
 Kasbo, Joelle (2003). Phosphatidylcholine-enriched diet prevents gallstone formation in mice susceptible to cholelithiasis. Retrieved June 23, 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12837851/
 Gaby, Alan R. (2009). Nutritional Approaches to Prevention and Treatment of Gallstones. Retrieved June 23, 2022 from: http://www.peirsoncenter.com/uploads/6/0/5/5/6055321/258.pdf
 Pagano, John O. A., DC (2009). Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative (1st ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.