What Is Phosphatidylserine?
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is one of the naturally-occurring molecules present all through the body. Although the human body can produce this substance at its own, the majority of this nutrient can be attained through the diet. However, because the diet which we follow today is unhealthy and lacks the essential nutrients, Phosphatidylserine is used in certain dietary supplements, and sometimes claimed to be useful for the below-mentioned uses:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Age-related dementia or cognitive decline
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an essential component in all our cells; specifically, it is a major component of the cell membrane. The cell membrane is a kind of "skin" that surrounds living cells. Besides keeping cells intact, this membrane performs vital functions such as moving nutrients into cells and pumping waste products out of them. PS plays an important role in many of these functions.
It is not yet known how exactly Phosphatidylserine supplementation does work to treat Alzheimer’s disease or for some other uses, although it is generally believed that its levels may reduce due to the growing age and with certain other medical complications like Alzheimer’s. So to maintain those levels it is prescribed as a supplement with treatment.
It is widely used for this purpose in Italy, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe. PS has also been marketed as a "brain booster" for people of all ages, said to sharpen memory and increase thinking ability.
Phosphatidylserine (PS), in studies of severe mental decline, appears to have been equally effective whether the cause was Alzheimer's disease or something entirely unrelated, such as multiple small strokes. This certainly suggests that PS may have a positive impact on the brain that is not specific to any one condition. From this observation, it is not a great leap to suspect that it might be useful for much less severe problems with memory and mental function, such as those that seem to occur in nearly all of us who are older than 40. Indeed, one double-blind study did find that animal-source phosphatidylserine could improve mental function in individuals with relatively mild age-related memory loss.
Overall, the evidence for animal-source PS in dementia is fairly strong. Double-blind studies involving a total of more than 1,000 people suggest that phosphatidylserine is an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The largest of these studies followed 494 elderly subjects in northeastern Italy over a course of 6 months. All suffered from moderate to severe mental decline, as measured by standard tests. Treatment consisted of either 300 mg daily of PS or placebo. The group that took PS did significantly better in both behavior and mental function than the placebo group. Symptoms of depression also improved. These results agree with those of numerous other smaller double-blind studies involving a total of more than 500 people with Alzheimer's and other types of age-related dementia.
And, finally, the promising study results were published in the November 2010 issue of the "Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition." Elderly study participants, all with mild cognitive impairment, took 100 or 300 mg of phosphatidylserine per day for six months. Memory scores increased in all groups, and those with the lowest starting scores improved the most. Improvements occurred mostly in delayed verbal recall, an aspect of memory associated with early stages of dementia. There were no adverse effects, and the researchers concluded that phosphatidylserine is a safe and helpful supplement for improving memory for some people.
This line of investigation substantially slowed down in the 1990s over concerns about mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), a fatal brain disorder believed to be caused by consuming foods or other products from affected cattle. Supplements containing phosphatidylserine are now derived from soy extracts. Early studies, though promising, were based on cow-derived supplements. There are reasons to expect that plant-source PS should function very similarly to PS made from cows' brains, and some animal studies suggest that it is indeed effective. However, in preliminary trials, soy-based PS and cabbage-based PS failed to prove beneficial and did not show the same level of effectiveness.
Phosphatidylserine is generally regarded as safe when used at recommended dosages. Side effects are rare, and when they do occur they usually consist of nothing much worse than mild gastrointestinal distress. However, the maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
The known potential side effects are:
- Upset stomach
Even though Phosphatidylserine is one of the natural supplements, it may potentially interact with some of the medications and other natural supplements. For example, PS is sometimes is taken with ginkgo because they both appear to enhance mental function. However, some caution might be in order: Ginkgo is a "blood thinner," and PS might be one as well. PS is known to enhance the effect of heparin, a very strong prescription blood thinner. It is possible that combined use of PS and any drug or supplement that thins the blood could interfere with normal blood clotting enough to cause problems.
Some medicines which may result in Phosphatidylserine drug interactions are:
- Anticholinergic medicines, including, but not limited to:
- o Atropine
- o Belladonna (B&O Supprettes, Donnatal, Bellamine S)
- o Clidinium (Librax)
- o Benztropine (Cogentin)
- o Darifenacin (Enablex)
- o Clozapine (Clozaril)
- o Dicyclomine (Bentyl)
- o Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Tylenol PM)
- o Haloperidol (Haldol)
- o Glycopyrrolate (Robinul)
- o Hyoscyamine (Levsin)
- o Homatropine (Hycodan)
- o Tolterodine (Detrol)
- o Ipratropium (Atrovent)
- o Tiotropium (Spiriva)
- o Scopolamine (Transderm Scop)
- Drugs which have cholinergic effects (including acetylcholinesterase inhibitors), like
- o Donepezil (Aricept)
- o Ambenonium (Mytelase)
- o Galantamine (Razadyne)
- o Edrophonium (Enlon, Reversol)
- o Bethanechol (Urecholine)
- o Methacholine (Provocholine)
- o Guanidine
- o Succinylcholine (Anectine, Quelicin)
- o Rivastigmine (Exelon)
This is not a complete list and some other drugs may also interact with Phosphatidylserine. Thus, inform your doctor about all sorts of prescribed or non-prescribed medicines and health supplements you take.
Some people may be more likely than others to experience problems due to phosphatidylserine. Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider before taking the supplements if you have:
- Any serious or chronic health condition
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any allergies, including allergies to medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
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