Phosphatidylserine

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • BC-PS, bovine cortex, cephalin, egg phosphatidylserine, egg-PS, E-PS, kephalin, phos serine, PS, soybean phosphatidylserine, soybean-PS, S-PS.

Background

  • Phosphatidylserine is present in cell membranes and is the major molecule of its kind in the brain. Phosphatidylserine is essential for cell-to-cell communication and other cell functions.

  • Phosphatidylserine is present in greater amounts in animal-based foods, such as liver and kidneys, than in plants. Plant sources include soy beans, white beans, cabbage, carrots, whole-grain barley, and rice.

  • Phosphatidylserine is most commonly used for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. It is commonly used to treat mental disorders ranging from age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) to Alzheimer’s disease. Current evidence suggests that phosphatidylserine may benefit those with AAMI to a greater degree than it does those with Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed.

  • Ingestion of phosphatidylserine from bovine brain cortex (BC-PS) carries a risk of transmission of infectious disease, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease). However, phosphatidylserine derived from soybeans (S-PS) does not carry that risk, and it appears to be equally effective as BC-PS.

  • Soy-derived phosphatidylserine (S-PS) is listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Age-related memory disorders

Limited evidence suggests that phosphatidylserine (PS) may have a role in treating age-related memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Further research is needed.

Stress

Limited evidence has indicated that PS supplementation may have an effect on different types of stress. Further research is required before conclusions may be drawn.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Alzheimer’s disease, anti-inflammatory, blood clotting disorders, dementia, memory.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Although phosphatidylserine derived from bovine cortex (BC-PS) has been used in studies, it is currently not administered to humans because of possible transfer of infectious diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease). Soybean phosphatidylserine (PS) is currently used instead of BC-PS.

  • For age-related memory disorders, 100 milligrams of BC-PS has been taken by mouth three times daily for three months, and 200 milligrams of phosphatidylserine has been taken by mouth twice daily for six months.

  • For stress, 200 milligrams of soy-based phosphatidylserine has been taken by mouth daily for 42 days, and also, 600 milligrams of soy-derived phosphatidylserine has been taken by mouth daily for 10 days.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for phosphatidylserine in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to phosphatidylserine.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Soybean phosphatidylserine (PS) is likely safe when used in dosages up to 600 milligrams daily for up to 10 days.

  • Phosphatidylserine may cause nausea, stomach discomfort, or insomnia.

  • Phosphatidylserine may increase blood clotting. Caution is advised in patients with blood clotting disorders or those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use cautiously in patients with sickle cell anemia, as some patients with this disease are more likely to develop blood clots. Theoretically, phosphatidylserine may increase the risk of blood clotting.

  • Use cautiously in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that causes blood clots and problems during pregnancy), as, in these patients, antiphospholipid antibodies may bind phosphatidylserine present in cells.

  • Avoid phosphatidylserine if derived from bovine cortex (BC-PS), because of possible transfer of infectious diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease). Currently, BC-PS is not used in clinical trials.

  • Avoid medicinal use in pregnant or breastfeeding women or in children, due to a lack of evidence and safety data.

  • Avoid in patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to phosphatidylserine.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Phosphatidylserine (PS) is likely safe as found in breast milk; approximately 75 milligrams of phospholipids are normally present in every 100 milliliters of human milk, including phosphatidylserine, ethanolamine, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylinositol, and sphingomyelin.

  • In nonallergic women, PS is likely safe when consumed in amounts generally found in foods.

  • Avoid medicinal use in pregnant or breastfeeding individuals or in children, due to a lack of evidence and safety data.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • PS may increase the risk of blood clot formation, which may alter the effectiveness of drugs that affect bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Phosphatidylserine may also interact with agents that affect the immune system, anti-inflammatory agents, athletic performance-enhancing agents, and neurologic agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Phosphatidylserine may increase the risk of blood clot formation, and it may interact with herbs and supplements that are believed to affect bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

  • Phosphatidylserine may also interact with anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, athletic performance-enhancing herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, and neurologic herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.