TUDCA benefits have long been appreciated in traditional Chinese medicine. From gut health to eye health and liver health, this promising supplement may help improve many aspects of vitality.
Modern science is also emerging to back up many of its traditional uses as well.
In this post, learn about the known benefits and potential benefits of taking TUDCA. Also, learn about its potential side effects.
Table of Contents
What is TUDCA?
TUDCA (tauroursodeoxycholic acid) is a natural type of bile salt made by the liver and the gut. Every day, the body makes around 4 cups (1 liter) of bile containing TUDCA. It is a water-soluble bile acid.
Very similar to UDCA (ursodeoxycholic acid ), TUDCA contains the amino acid taurine that helps to stabilize it. UDCA is available as a prescription whereas TUDCA is a dietary supplement.
While the body makes TUDCA and other types of bile acids, it can run low due to liver issues, diet issues, and some medications such as omeprazole.
TUDCA Benefits Overview
TUDCA and other types of bile help the body to absorb nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Additionally, bile helps the body digest and absorb foods while also helping fight harmful bacteria in the body.
Another big benefit of bile is that it helps the body have a normal metabolism and helps eliminate toxins from the body.
In addition to these basic functions, TUDCA may help reduce the chances of some health conditions as we will now review.
TUDCA Benefits for the Digestive Tract and Liver
TUDCA isn’t just for providing extra bile and decreasing inflammation. Research shows that it has potential benefits in most parts of the digestive tract and biliary tree. Let’s take a look.
- Digestive Benefits: TUDCA reduces feelings of abdominal discomfort known as dyspepsia in people with active hepatitis. Early research even shows that TUDCA reduces inflammation in the gut and helps heal a leaky gut. Additionally, TUDCA may improve gut bacteria balance.
- Liver Health: Using TUDCA is clinically proven to help reduce the harms of a fatty liver disease called cholestatic liver disease, including primary biliary cirrhosis. Liver function tests also improved in patients with chronic liver disease who received TUDCA according to research.
- Gallbladder Health: Bile salts like TUDCA had long been used to help dissolve gallstones and are often prescribed for this purpose. This is because it helps increase bile flow.
- Stomach Health: TUDCA may protect stomach cells from the inflammatory damage of alcohol and ibuprofen according to research in a mouse model.
TUDCA Benefits Throughout the Rest of the Body
Using TUDCA isn’t limited to the gut and biliary tree either. It also has potential benefits in almost every tissue in the body. Let’s learn more.
- Lung Health: By decreasing inflammation and protecting cells, TUDCA may have benefits for lung health. One study in mice showed that TUDCA helped to reduce the damage of silicosis by decreasing fibrosis in the lung. It helped to reduce allergic airway disease (asthma) in an animal study as well.
- Eye Health: Not surprisingly, TUDCA appears to help protect eye tissue and this is one of its traditional uses. The damages of diabetes were prevented when TUDCA was given to mice in a model of type 1 diabetes. It may even reduce the risk of cataracts and help prevent retinal degeneration, but more research is needed.
- Nerve Health: as a neuroprotectant, TUDCA helps to reduce the symptoms of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) according to a pilot study. Early research even shows it may help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. It appears that TUDCA is good for the nervous system although more research is needed for general nerve health.
- Joint Health: Known to decrease oxidative stress, TUDCA may help reduce symptoms of arthritis. One study found that TUDCA reduced cell death, also known as apoptosis, of chondrocytes (cartilage cells). It also may increase fluidity within the joints.
- Immune Benefits: Among the many health benefits of TUDCA include the possibility of improving immune balance. TUDCA helps the balance of T cells in the body. Because of this, TUDCA may help reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases like colitis.
- Heart Health: by reducing arterial stiffness, TUDCA may also prove one day to be helpful in preventing heart disease. Some early work even suggests that TUDCA may reduce the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms. Others suggest that TUDCA may be useful in reducing heart arrhythmia.
- Reduces Diabetes Symptoms: One of the issues that people have when they have diabetes is that the part of the cell called the endoplasmic reticulum is impaired. Interestingly, TUDCA reduces endoplasmic reticulum stress in animal studies. Other research in people shows that TUDCA helps alleviate insulin resistance in people who are obese. TUDCA may even help normalize insulin production in the pancreas although more research is needed.
Safety of TUDCA
TUDCA has a high safety profile when given in amounts equal to or less than 1500 mg per day. Studies of up to 6 months have shown that this dose is safe.
TUDCA is absorbed more easily than UDCA and research shows it is as safe and likely more effective than UDCA.
That said, you should always check with your healthcare provider before taking TUDCA or making any changes to your healthcare routine.
Research shows that more TUDCA isn’t always better. Doses of 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 1500 mg all had similar benefits.
Other studies have used the dosing of 60 mg/kg/day as a safe and effective dose.
Doses of up to 1750 mg per day have been used in humans with no known major side effects.
Potential TUDCA Side Effects
TUDCA is usually very well tolerated. Taking it at mealtime helps to minimize any chances of digestive upset.
Occasional side effects of bile salts like TUDCA can include diarrhea, constipation, or indigestion. However, many times TUDCA helps improve diarrhea symptoms. This is especially true if you have light-colored stools.
Bile supplements like TUDCA are very well tolerated overall.
Related post: Fascinating Ox Bile Benefits + Best Brands
What is TUDCA made from?
Most TUDCA supplements on the market today are made synthetically. Historically they were derived from bear bile which is not considered ethical or humane. Some bile supplements are derived from bovine bile or ox bile.
Does TUDCA help with sleep?
No research has specifically looked at whether or not TUDCA affects sleep quality.
Is there a link between TUDCA and cancer?
No direct evidence shows that TUDCA is related to cancer incidence, but early research shows that it may have some anti-cancer properties. More research is needed.
What is the best time to take TUDCA?
It is best to take TUDCA with meals. However, it is also safe to take it between meals.
TUDCA vs Milk Thistle: Which is best for the liver?
Both TUDCA and milk thistle are good for liver health and there is no reason why you can’t take both together.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.