If you want to know what TUDCA is, how it works, and all the unique health benefits it has to offer, then you want to read this article.
Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid, more commonly referred to as TUDCA, has seen massive adoption throughout the world of supplements in recent years.
Mostly, it’s known to promote liver health, but research indicates it may have a much wider range of potential benefits.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about TUDCA, including:
- What It Is
- The Benefits
- Safety/Side Effects
- Brands You Can Trust
And a whole lot more along the way.
So let’s just dive right in…
What Is TUDCA?
TUDCA is a water-soluble bile acid formed by combining Ursodeoxycholic Acid and Taurine.
Chemically, it looks like this:
Ursodeoxycholic acid, which goes under the drug name Ursodiol, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), a liver disorder which can cause serious damage if left untreated.
Interestingly, research indicates that TUDCA supplementation increases Ursodeoxycholic Acid levels more than Ursodeoxycholic Acid alone.
This would also explain why TUDCA possesses benefits that neither Ursodeoxycholic Acid or Taurine possess alone.
But more on that later…
Why Do People Supplement With TUDCA?
Over the years, TUDCA has developed a reputation as a liver-cleansing supplement, capable of protecting the liver against things like:
- Heavy Metals
- Other Toxins
In recent years, however, research has revealed that the benefits of TUDCA are not limited to liver health.
Study by study, TUDCA is turning out to be less of a liver-specific cleansing agent and more of what you would call a ‘general health’ supplement.
It’s reputation for promoting a healthy liver is still the most common reason people supplement with it, though.
What Are The Benefits Of TUDCA?
Some of the alleged benefits of TUDCA have a fair amount of research behind them, while others require some elucidation…
TUDCA Protects The Liver
TUDCA is commonly used as a treatment for Cholestasis, a condition in which bile flow is impaired, which can be detrimental if left untreated.
Cholestasis can eventually result in bile build-up in the liver, causing cell-death and essentially destroying the liver from the inside out.
TUDCA has actually been shown to prevent this from happening and is considered quite reliable in this regard.
Research shows that TUDCA is an effective treatment for liver cirrhosis.
Interestingly, it actually appears to be more effective than UDCA, despite UDCA (Ursodiol) being an approved treatment and TUDCA being an over-the-counter supplement.
This just goes to show you…
Sometimes, drugs aren’t better than supplements. That’s just what we’ve generally been lead to believe by big pharma.
TUDCA Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin Sensitivity is simply a measure of the degree to which your body needs to secrete Insulin to deal with the food you eat.
The higher your Insulin sensitivity, the less Insulin your body releases in response to food intake
The lower your Insulin sensitivity, the more Insulin your body releases in response to food intake.
Low Insulin sensitivity, also called Insulin Resistance, can lead to obesity and eventually Diabetes.
In vitro (cell in a petri dish), TUDCA has been shown to restore normal glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity.
But there has been some research in humans…
In one study, 1750mg of TUDCA per day was shown to improve Insulin signaling in the liver and in muscle tissue. The subjects in this study were obese men and women but they had not been diagnosed with any medical condition.
While it’s tough to say how TUDCA would impact Insulin signaling in people with healthy Insulin sensitivity to begin with, it does appear to be pretty useful for overweight individuals with poor Insulin sensitivity.t
TUDCA Can Be Used To Treat Gallstones
Gallstones occur when digestive fluids harden in the gallbladder. They tend to be extreme painful to pass and, if they’re too big, they may require surgery to remove.
Bile acids such as TUDCA and UDCA have been used clinically to dissolve large gallstones down to a size that’s actually passable, especially in patients who aren’t fit for surgery for one reason or another.
Typically, this is in combination with a low cholesterol diet, since high cholesterol can contribute to gallstone formation.
So, TUDCA isn’t going to prevent you from getting gallstones, or get rid of them if they’ve already formed, but it can be a useful additional treatment option.
The more you dissolve the gallstone, the less painful it is to pass.
Definitely something to consider if you’re at risk for developing gallstones.
TUDCA May Protect Against Alcohol Toxicity
Alcohol is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances on the planet.
Although we tend to blame alcohol itself for that horrible feeling of weakness and nausea we feel the day after indulging a little too much, most of the damage is actually caused by a toxic metabolite of Alcohol called Acetaldehyde.
There is some research which suggests that TUDCA is actually capable of protecting liver cells from the detrimental effects of Acetyaldehyde.
It shares this property with UDCA, but given that TUDCA is capable of increasing UDCA level more than UDCA itself, it would make more sense to just supplement with TUDCA.
Unfortunately, more research is needed in this area before we can draw solid conclusions about whether TUDCA can offer protection against the detrimental effects of alcohol on the liver, but if you like to drink, it may not be a bad idea to supplement with TUDCA for good measure.
TUDCA May Support Brain Health
While it hasn’t been studied too extensively in the area of brain health, there is some preliminary evidence which suggests TUDCA can protect brain cells from toxins and degenerative diseases.
In mice, it has been shown to prevent cell death in the presence of 3-nitropropionic acid, a toxin known to induce Huntington’s Disease.
But Huntington’s Disease isn’t the only condition for which TUDCA appears useful.
There’s also some evidence which suggests TUDCA can be useful for protecting the brain against strokes.
Overall, TUDCA shows a lot of promise as a brain-protecting nutrient, but human studies are virtually non-existent at this point.
Due to the lack of human studies, it’s probably a stretch to call TUDCA a nootropic, though cognitive benefits cannot be ruled out.t
TUDCA And Prohormone/Steroid Cycle Support
Given TUDCA’s well-established ability to protect the liver from several different kinds of toxins, it has been adopted by users of prohormones and oral steroids who are worried about the liver damage.
While there aren’t any studies directly investigating its impact on measures of liver health while using prohormones or oral steroids, the research as a whole suggests that it’s useful as a protective measure.
Similar anti-toxic effect have been noted with Taurine as well.
Unfortunately, the toxicity of prohormones and oral steroids ranges pretty considerably.
Some compounds aren’t particularly liver toxic while others can cause liver shutdown in just a matter of weeks!
This makes it pretty difficult to determine how much TUDCA you really need to protect yourself, but standard doses range from 250-500g, taken twice daily.
While further studies are definitely needed to determine what other toxins TUDCA can protect against, it makes for a useful addition to any Cycle Support supplement stack.
What Is An Effective Dosage of TUDCA?
Since there aren’t many studies in humans, there is no precise clinical dose for TUDCA.
Research indicates an effective dose is anywhere from 500-2000mg/day.
You’ll typically find TUDCA supplements dosed at 250mg per serving. This dosage really isn’t based on anything in particular.
It’s just an instance of one supplement company putting out a product and the rest of them following suit.
If you buy a TUDCA supplement which provides 250mg per serving, you should ideally take at least a few servings per day.
TUDCA has excellent absorption on its own so you don’t necessarily need to take it with food, but most people do because it’s just easier to remember to take it that way.
250mg of TUDCA with each meal would be a fine regimen.
Does TUDCA Have Any Side Effects?
Throughout all of the studies in which TUDCA has been used in humans, no adverse events have been reported.
One study found that 500mg every day for 1 year elicited no side effects whatsoever.
Another study, using a much higher (1750mg) daily dose, also observed no side effects.
Even direct infusions do not appear to cause any kind of side effects.
While more research is certainly needed to determine a minimally effective dosage and a maximum tolerable dosage, all the available evidence suggests TUDCA is remarkably safe.
Choosing The Best TUDCA Supplement
Due to the elaborate process of synthesizing Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid, it tends to be pretty expensive.
For that reason, many supplement companies that use it in their formulas end up under-dosing it quite severely.
A few brands that you can probably trust are:
There are plenty of other supplement companies that sell TUDCA in single ingredient form, but you should go with a brand you trust.
It’s too easy for supplement companies to pretend there’s TUDCA in their product when they’re really using something cheaper like Taurine.
That type of thing happens more than you might think with all kinds of ingredients.
The Bottom Line On TUDCA
TUDCA has become a popular supplement for people looking to improve liver health and insulin sensitivity, as well as protect against a number of toxins.
Although the research as a whole is still in the early stages, the information we have available indicates it’s quite promising.
If future human studies yield similar results to the studies in mice, TUDCA may very well become a staple supplement for those concerned with general health and maintaining healthy organ function.
If you’re concerned with liver health for one reason or another, it’s not a bad idea to supplement with TUDCA for good measure.