Health Guide


What is it?

Lecithin is found in all living cells. The highest amount of lecithin is found in the brain, heart, liver, and kidney. Lecithin can also be prepared from soybeans. It is commonly used as a supplement for atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), Alzheimer's disease, depression, dementia, gallbladder disease, gallstones, liver disease, headache, multiple sclerosis, acne (pimples), psoriasis, and high cholesterol. Its use in the treatment of depression, dementia, gallbladder disease, headache, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis may not be effective. Lecithin that is available at health food stores is usually a combination of fats (including phosphatidylcholine), oil, and carbohydrates.

Other names for lecithin include: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, PC-55, ethanolamine, and serine.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you...

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Lecithin you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Lecithin. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking lecithin, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Taking large amounts of lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) can increase symptoms of depression in some people. You should only take lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) to treat depression under the direct supervision of your health care professional (1)

Side Effects:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hand, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Diarrhea, gas, smaller appetite, upset stomach (1,6)
  • Weight gain (6)


1. Murray, MT: Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA; 1996.

2. Essentiale, Essentiale forte. Natterman International GMBH, P.O.Box 350120, Cologne 5000, Germany, 1989.

3. Lieber CS & Rubin E: Alcoholic fatty liver. N Engl J Med .280:705-708,1969.

4. Childs MT, Bowlin JA, Ogilvie JT et al: The contrasting effect of a dietary soya-lecithin product and cornoil on lipoprotein lipids in normolipidemic and familial hypercholesterolemic subjects. Atherosclerosis 38:217-28, 1981.

5. Morganti P, Agostini A, Bruno C et al: Role of topical glycolic acid and phosphatidylcholine linoleic acid-rich in the pathogenesis of acne. J Appl Cosmetol 1997; 15:33-41.

6. Ott BR & Owens NJ: Complementary and alternative medicines for Alzheimer's disease. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol 1998; 11:163-173.

7. Buchman AL, Dubin M, Jenden D et al: Lecithin increases plasma free choline and decreases hepatic steatosis in long-term total parenteral nutrition patients. Gastroenterol 1992; 102(4):1363-1370.

8. Buchman AL, Moukarzel A, Dubin M et al: Lecithin supplementation causes a decrease in hepatic steatosis in choline-deficient long-term TPN patients. AASLD 1991a; 100(5):A725.

9. Murray MT & Pizzorno JE: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd ed. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA; 1998.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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