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Research Suggests Bile Acids Have Potential as a Therapy for Dysbiosis, Constipation, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Generally, when we think of bile, we first think of the role it plays in digestion. Produced by the liver and expelled into the digestive tract by the gallbladder, bile is the substance that serves to emulsify and break down dietary fats so that they can be absorbed in the small intestine. Thus, supplemental bile acids with meals may be important for individuals post-cholecystectomy or with fat malabsorption for other reasons. However, the effects and potential therapeutic benefits of bile acids in the body go far beyond this.

In the digestive tract, bile acids also affect the balance of flora and gut motility.[1],[2] Outside of the gut, they regulate many critical facets of physiology, including glucose and cholesterol metabolism; activating farnesoid X receptor (FXR), pregnane X receptor, the vitamin D receptor, and various G-protein-coupled receptors.[5] Evidence also suggests that bile acids affect neurological function, as well as the response of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.[6] Bile acids have even been suggested to be “novel therapeutic modalities in inflammation, obesity, and diabetes.”[7]

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