Phospholipid exchange explained

What is phosphatidylcholine?

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January 14, 2022

Phosphatidylcholine is a chemical naturally found in eggs, soybeans, mustard, sunflower, and other foods and present in all the cells in the body. [1]


What is phospholipid exchange therapy?

Phospholipid exchange is a technique for supplying the correct proportion of fats and oils in a bioavailable form to replenish cell membranes and membranes within cells.

Chemicals such as pesticides, preservatives, heavy metals and even some medical drugs can be stored in body fat for long periods, and continue to interfere with functioning, most notably of the brain, nervous system and immune system. They can only be excreted from the body by two routes: via the liver into bile, which then enters the gut, or via sweat (the only other route, which is no solution, is in breast milk). [2]

Lipid Exchange is a technique that has been practiced for decades, especially in Eastern Europe, using an oily product derived from soya, which can be given by intravenous injection or by mouth. There is extensive literature on its safety and efficacy in a wide range of disorders including neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, liver damage, kidney failure, and auto-immune diseases. Like many such therapies, it was never taken up very much by medicine in Western Europe or the USA, although in recent years drug-development scientists have again been very interested in its use as a delivery system for drugs — a means of getting them rapidly into cells. [3]

One group in the USA saw the potential of phospholipid exchange therapy in a range of disorders, and have developed it further into an effective means of detoxifying the cell membrane.

This is dramatically important in modern times because the major groups of toxins:

  • organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides
  • related chemicals such as fire-retardants (PCBs, PBBs)
  • heavy metals such as lead, mercury etc

–  are all fat-soluble, and end up either inside fat cells or in cell membranes, where they disrupt the very processes of life. Inside fat cells they are in fact relatively inert and thus safe since this is a storage facility; it is in the membranes that they do damage. [4]


Key nutrients in phospholipid exchange therapy



The first active ingredient of the treatment is phospholipids. These are oils in the form in which they occur in the membranes. When this is injected intravenously there is a rapid exchange, the injected lipids being put into the cell walls replace the ones there being taken out, and with the lipids coming out of the cell wall there also come some of the toxins. The literature suggests that at least 5% of total cell lipids can be turned over by one treatment. [5]


This amino acid is an important antioxidant and a key component of liver detoxifying systems. It stimulates bile production.  the purpose of mopping up in the bloodstream the toxins that are released by the phospholipid membranes, combining with them and being excreted still attached to them. It also serves to stimulate bile flow, and in the bowel to keep the toxins from being reabsorbed into the system.


Folate is an essential B vitamin required for the maintenance of AdoMet-dependent methylation. The liver is responsible for many methylation reactions that are used for post-translational modification of proteins, methylation of DNA, and the synthesis of hormones, creatine, carnitine, and phosphatidylcholine. Conditions where methylation capacity is compromised, including folate deficiency, are associated with impaired phosphatidylcholine synthesis resulting in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis. [7]


Vitamin B12 regulates the biological methylation of phospholipids. [8]


Who would benefit from phospholipid exchange IV therapy?

There is some interest in using phosphatidylcholine to improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis in some people. Phosphatidylcholine might also help to protect the wall of the large intestine in people with a condition known as ulcerative colitis.[9]

Because the body uses phosphatidylcholine to make a brain chemical called acetylcholine, there is also some interest in using it for treating “brain-centered” conditions such as memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and manic-depressive disorders. [10]

The body makes a brain chemical called acetylcholine from phosphatidylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for memory and other bodily functions. Since phosphatidylcholine might increase acetylcholine, there is interest in using it for improving memory and for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. [11]

A certain form of phosphatidylcholine (polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine) might provide protection against liver fibrosis and liver damage caused by drinking alcohol. [12]

The combination of these agents amounts to a new treatment, but there is very good evidence of safety for each component, and the American group has given thousands of such combined treatments, with no serious adverse effects, and often with dramatic benefits. Their major focus has been on neurotoxic diseases, ranging from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis through Alzheimer’s to Autism.  They also report good results in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, Lyme disease and other chronic infections, and in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Earlier, Eastern European research also reports beneficial results in cardiovascular disease, other auto-immune diseases, severe liver and kidney problems and other severe infections. [13]


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