Butyric Acid – What It Is, Sources, Benefits and Side Effects!

Butyric acid ( butanoic acid) belongs to a group of short-chain fatty acids and is believed to play a number of beneficial roles in the gastrointestinal tract. It is easily absorbed by enteric cells and used as a main source of energy .

In addition, butyric acid is an important regulator of colonocyte proliferation and apoptosis. Gastrointestinal tract motility and bacterial microbiota composition, as well as its involvement in many other processes, including immunoregulation and anti-inflammatory activity.

The pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the most commonly diagnosed functional gastrointestinal condition, is complex and its precise mechanisms are still unclear. This article describes the potential benefits of butyric acid .

What is butyric acid?

Butyric acid is a colorless liquid that is soluble in water. Scientifically speaking, its structure is four carbon fatty acids with the molecular formula C 4 H 8 O 2 or CH 3 CH 2 CH 2 COOH. Butyric acid has other chemical names, including butanoic acid, n-butyric acid, n-butanoic acid, and propylformic acid. Together with acetic and propionic acids, it accounts for approximately 83% of short-chain fatty acids in the human colon.

On its own, it has an unpleasant smell and a bitter, pungent taste. However, this occurs as esters in animal fats and vegetable oils. What is an ester? An ester is an organic compound that reacts with water to produce alcohols and organic or inorganic acids. Esters derived from carboxylic acids such as butyric acid are the most common type of esters.

It is generated in the large intestine along with other short-chain fatty acids from the fermentation of dietary carbohydrates , specifically prebiotics such as resistant starches, fructo-oligosaccharides and other dietary fibers  .

What is butyric acid used for:

You might not have realized it, but chances are you’ve consumed something called butyric acid before, and believe it or not, your body makes it too. It’s true butyric acid , also known as butanoic acid or BTA, is a short-chain saturated fatty acid found in butter , ghee, raw milk, animal fats , and vegetable oils.

It is also formed and therefore found in our colons through bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates such as dietary fiber  . Butyric acid supports the health and healing of cells in the small and large intestine. It is also the preferred source of fuel for the cells lining the interior of the large intestine or colon.

The BTA content in ghee is one of the key components that provides all these wonderful ghee benefits. Consuming butyric acid in foods like ghee or in the form of supplements has been shown to aid digestion , calm inflammation , and improve overall gastrointestinal health.

People who suffer from irritable bowl syndrome and Crohn’s disease have been shown to benefit from butyric acid , and studies show promise when it comes to diabetes and insulin resistance as well. Furthermore, BTA is also known as a potential anti-cancer fatty acid, especially when it comes to colon cancer .

Butyric acid sources:

An increase in the intake of highly processed, low- fiber ,  and high-sugar foods has been shown to decrease levels of butyrate production in the large intestine. Supplementing with butyric acid can be a good idea if you can’t get enough from your diet .

A butyric acid supplement is usually available at health stores or online. It is most commonly found in capsules or tablets. Dosage recommendations vary by product.

Some recommend one to six capsules/tablets after meals, while others suggest taking one capsule three times a day with meals, a few hours before or after taking other medications. It’s best to read product labels carefully and consult your doctor if you feel unsafe.

If you prefer to get your butyric acid from food, the following options are fine: butter , ghee, raw milk, and Parmesan cheese. When looking for a  high quality, raw, cultured butter is best.

This can be hard to find, though. So organic butter  from grass-fed cows is your next best option. Some properly made kombucha (a fermented tea drink) may also contain the acid.

To naturally increase the production of butyric acid in your body. You can increase your intake of healthy prebiotics such as raw Jerusalem artichoke. Raw green leaves, raw jicama and ripe bananas.

Scientific research has found that fecal butyrate levels can vary greatly between individuals. But, consuming a diet high in resistant starch (such as a ripe banana) typically increases acid levels and can help maintain colorectal health.

Health benefits of butyric acid:

1. Weight Loss:

Butyric gained popularity for its ability to possibly help people lose unwanted weight . Scientific evidence has shown that obese people (as well as people who have type II diabetes) have a different composition of gut bacteria . Short-chain fatty acids are thought to play a positive role along with prebiotics in preventing metabolic syndrome, which almost always includes abdominal obesity.

Short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid help regulate the balance between fatty acid synthesis and the breakdown of fats . In a 2007 animal study, after five weeks of TBA treatment, obese mice lost 10.2% of their original body weight and body fat was reduced by 10%. Butyric acid has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which helps protect against weight gain.

2. Treatment of potential colorectal cancer:

Several studies have demonstrated the potential ability of butyric acid to fight cancer, especially colon cancer. In fact, it is shown to have an ability to “modify nuclear architecture” and induce colon cancer cell death.

Additionally, this is likely a huge reason why increased fiber intake  has been associated with less colon cancer , as higher fiber intake  can equate to more butyric acid present in the colon.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Relief:

Overall, butyric acid can have a very positive impact on gut health. Which greatly affects the health of the whole body. Short chain fatty acids like butyric acid can help keep the gut healthy and sealed, which prevents leaky gut syndrome and all sorts of problems linked to a leaky gut like the symptoms of IBS.

Therefore, this is a type of digestive disorder that is characterized by a group of common symptoms, including changes in bowel movements and abdominal pain.

4. Crohn’s disease treatment:

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. Again, this is a disease related to a leaky gut. One study found that oral butyrate is safe and well tolerated, and may be effective in inducing clinical improvement in Crohn’s disease.

5. Fights insulin resistance:

A study in the regulation of insulin sensitivity by consuming a high-fat diet . The study concluded that “dietary butyrate supplementation can prevent and treat diet -induced insulin resistance in rats.” The researchers also found that the butyrate-treated mice had no increase in body fat, and the butyrate supplement actually appeared to prevent obesity.

6. General anti-inflammatory effects:

Studies have shown the broad anti-inflammatory powers of butyric acid . It is believed that BTA can not only help with inflammatory conditions. But, it may also have a useful ability to manage immune responses.

Also, as I said before, inflammation is at the root of most diseases. So, and this is why having more butyric acid in your body would likely benefit many people with various health issues with inflammatory roots.

Side effects of butyric acid:

It is difficult to find any documented negative side effects of butyric acid supplements . If you take it and experience any negative side effects, you may need to reduce your dosage. Of course, if you have any serious side effects then you should discontinue use and seek immediate medical attention.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak to your doctor before taking a butyric acid supplement . So also talk to your doctor if you have any ongoing medical issues or if you already take other medications before taking a BTA supplement.

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