Bile is essential for health and is a pretty fascinating topic. However, very few people know that it’s actually much more important than just for digesting fat.
In this article I don’t want to talk about just bile in general, but a specific bile acid, namely TUDCA. TUDCA is created in the gut by gut bacteria by combining UDCA, another bile acid, with taurine. Only 2-3% of your total bile acid pool consists of TUDCA, which is fairly low.
Black bears’ bile acid pool consists of more than 50% TUDCA, which isn’t surprising, therefore, that the Chinese have used bear bile for 3000 years for the treatment of numerous health problems.
Supplemental TUDCA, which is water soluble, is extremely safe and offers only benefits.
Some of its benefits include:
- Neuroprotective (beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and stroke) (R)
- Protective against eye damage
- Used for the chronic treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis, with no side effect attached (R)
- Lowers liver enzymes significantly (R)
- Effective in animal models with spinal cord injury (R)
- Helps to recover from head trauma (R)
- Protective against glaucoma (R)
- Used for acute renal failure (R)
- Used for pancreatitis (R)
- Used for metabolic syndrome (R)
- Used for psoriasis (R)
- Used for myocardial infarction (R)
- Used for neuropathic pain (R)
- Used for ischemia reperfusion syndromes (R)
- Beneficial for GI disorders (R)
- Protective against hair loss
- Protective against the early onset of aging
- Protective against colon cancer
- Restorative to osteoarthritis cartilage, by significantly reducing the intracellular cholesterol levels in the chondrocytes and increased membrane fluidity as well as increase collagen synthesis (R).
- Protective against endotoxins (R)
- Protective to the kidney (R)
- Able to aid in the reversal of fibrosis and cirrhosis (R)
#1 Improves gut bacteria & gut health
Too much of the wrong bacteria contributes to weight gain. Pathogenic bacteria increases gut permeability, releases D-lactate, endotoxins and other toxins which will negatively effect your health.
TUDCA reduces the pathogenic gut bacteria, increases the beneficial bacteria by having a pro-biotic effect, restores gut wall integrity (reduces gut permeability), lowers inflammation and protects against colitis and the gastric mucosa from the damaging effects of TDCA (a pathogenic bile acid created by pathogenic gut bacteria) (R, R).
TUDCA also promotes the release of bile from the gal bladder, which is also anti-bacterial and will help to keep the small intestine sterile, and prevent SIBO.
#2 Protects the liver and improves its function
Everything goes to and through the liver. Too much bad stuff at once will surpass the liver’s ability to process it all and will damage the liver and reduce its function.
This can lead to fatty liver, elevated liver enzymes and a whole bunch of symptoms that come as a result, such as insulin resistance, weight gain, low energy, dark circles under the eyes, saggy skin, hormonal problems, metal accumulation, nutritional deficiencies, etc.
#3 Promotes bile flow to get rid of toxins
During fat loss, lots of toxins are released from the adipose tissue, as adipose tissue isn’t just a storage site for fat, but for many other compounds as well; storing toxins in fat tissue actually protects the body against the the harm of the toxins.
When these toxins are released, they go to the liver. The liver’s job is then to transport the toxins in bile to go through the gut and then be excreted out of the body via feces.
Countless numbers of people report improvements in blood sugar, less saggy eyes, better energy, better gut health, darker and more regular bowel movements, etc., with the use of TUDCA, all of which are signs of less toxins and better functioning liver.
#4 Improves insulin sensitivity
An overexpression of CYP7A1, the enzyme that increases bile acid synthesis, prevents high fat diet-induced obesity and also insulin resistance in mice, pointing to bile acids as an interesting target to fight these pathologies (R).
Insulin resistance can occur due to many reasons, but one of the main reasons is excessive lipolysis due to dysfunction adipose tissue. This forces the pancreas to create more insulin to get the job done.
Insulin by itself is the most potent inducer of insulin resistance, so having elevated insulin will promote insulin resistance.
- lowers inflammation, maintains adipocyte autophagy and stabilizes the UPR in the adipose tissue, thus lowering excessive lipolysis and reducing the insulin requirements (R).
- increases insulin breakdown in the liver, which helps to lower hyperinsulinemia and improve insulin sensitivity.
- activates insulin signaling in the liver, by the interaction with the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 2 (S1PR2), resulting in PI3K/Akt pathway activation.
Three birds with one bile!
In this human study, 1750mg TUDCA daily for 4 weeks improved insulin sensitivity by 30% in obese individuals (37 BMI) (R).
#5 Improves the function of the pancreas
Type II diabetes is where the pancreas have to work extra hard to produce more insulin which then progresses to type I diabetes where the pancreas are like, “I’ve had it, I’m out!” and stop working.
TUDCA improves insulin sensitivity and protects the pancreas from damage to keep on creating insulin, thus preventing type I diabetes.
In people with type II diabetes, with excess insulin, TUDCA is shown to promote insulin clearance in the liver, but in people with type I diabetes, with insufficient insulin, TUDCA is shown to reduce insulin clearance in the liver (R).
#6 Acts on its receptor – TGR5
TGR5 (the receptor that TUDCA activates):
- Increases mitochondrial activity and uncoupling by promoting deiodinase type 2 (which converts thyroid hormone T4 to T3) and PGC1α activity.
- Lowers inflammatory cytokines such as NFκB, TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, etc.
- Protects against the development of cholesterol gallstones.
- Regulates energy metabolism in brown adipose tissue (BAT) (R). As little as 40-50 g of BAT could, if maximally stimulated, account for 20% of daily energy expenditure (R).
- Relaxes and refills the gallbladder.
- Promotes the secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP1 promotes satiety, stimulates lipolysis and improves insulin sensitivity. It has cardioprotective effects, in terms of inhibiting triglyceride-rich chylomicron formation, attenuation of atherogenic plaque inflammation and modulation of cardiomyocyte function (R).
Pretty neat benefits I would say.
#7 Stabilizes cells and improves their function
Cells, and more specifically, mitochondria, produce energy optimally and perform their other functions properly when they are stable.
TUDCA also reduces cell permeability (which is chaotropic and reduces cellular function) and intracellular calcium (which is excitatory and promotes lipogenesis), thus restoring equilibrium.
Overall TUDCA shows a lot of promise for improving health, and more specifically the liver, kidneys, gallbladder and gut.
If you have persistent gut problems, like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, white coated tongue, sinus, acne, mood swings, low energy, etc., then it might be a great idea to give TUDCA a try to clean out the liver and gut.
500mg of TUDCA will be enough to improve the liver and gut, whereas higher doses might be necessary for someone with serious liver damage (because of prior excessive alcohol consumption or junk food etc.) TUDCA, however, won’t do you much good if you still continue to consume regular alcohol or junk foods, which will only be counter-intuitive.
TUDCA can be taken on an empty stomach but it’s best taken with a meal containing fiber so that the excreted bile can bind to the fiber and get excreted from the body.