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What is butyric acid? The secret to a healthy gut!

What Is Butyric Acid? A Complete Guide

You might have heard about the immense therapeutic potential of butyric acid and how it can support your gut function and overall health.* Read on to learn everything about this multifunctional molecule and why you should seriously consider supplementing with it in addition to dietary intake. Use the links below to jump to specific related topics on the page.

The Basics of Butyric Acid  How Does Butyric Acid Support Your Body?
Potential Therapeutic Applications Including Butyrate-Rich Foods in Your Diet
When Do You Need a Supplement? FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics of Butyric Acid

What is butyric acid’s chemical formula?

Butyric acid, or butyrate, is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) naturally found in animal fat and plant oils. Known for its distinctly unpleasant odor and taste, butyric acid is usually to blame when you come across an off-putting smell like rancid butter or rancid parmesan cheese.

Inside the large intestine, bacteria ferments undigested dietary fiber and in doing so produces butyric acid. Although it is the least abundant SCFA produced in the body, butyric acid is described as the “energy powerhouse” for colon cells (colonocytes) and offers a wide range of health benefits.

Butyric acid contributes 60-70% of the energy
required by colonocytes. 

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How Does Butyric Acid Support Your Body?

Research has revealed a range of previously unknown beneficial properties in butyric acid, which gives the molecule enormous untapped potential.   Let’s review some recent findings on how butyric acid provides therapeutic benefits.  

The human intestine is populated with a complex array of bacterial flora that makes up the internal microbiome. These enteric bacteria use complex microbial pathways to ferment insoluble fiber and carbohydrates, which produce butyric acid. As the table below details, the body’s butyric acid production supports vital functions at both the internal and external intestinal level1.  

Functions of butyric acid by intestinal level
Stimulates sodium chloride in the colon to avoid dehydration Minimizes peripheral insulin resistance — cells unable to absorb glucose from the blood 
Regulates cell cycle (growth and differentiation) of colonocytesLimits intestine’s cholesterol absorption to manage levels in the blood  
Supports healthy gastrointestinal inflammatory responsesControls how the body uses energy and maintains metabolic homeostasis — constant internal environment
Protects intestinal mucosa from pathogens and influences its immune responses Stimulates neurogenesis — forming new neurons in the brain 
Regulates intestinal motility — how quickly and easily food moves through the gastrointestinal tract Stimulates β-oxidation of very long-chain fatty acids — the pathway that oxidizes fatty acids to generate energy 

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Potential Therapeutic Applications of Butyric Acid

Several research studies show a broad spectrum of possibilities for butyric acid’s potential therapeutic applications. There is growing evidence2 on how the gut microbiome influences human brain functions through the ‘gut-brain axis’, suggesting the potential beneficial role of butyric acid in regulating our behavior, including social communication.*

Clinical studies have demonstrated a connection between
microbiota, butyric acid, and the brain.

The table below lists resources you can explore to better understand how butyric acid extends beneficial effects — from inside the intestinal tract to peripheral tissues — to support gastrointestinal and neurological functions.* 

System Therapeutic Applications

Home Remedies for IBS: Focusing on the Gut Biome

Crohn’s and the Gut Microbiome: Understanding the Impact of Treatments

Autism and Gastrointestinal Problems: The Role of the Gut Biome

Autism and Diet: What You Need to Know

Short-Chain Fatty Acid Benefits for Patients with Ulcerative Colitis
The Potential of Butyric Acid As An Alternative Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Addressing Autism and Sleep Problems

The Gut-Brain Axis and Behavior: The Impact on Autism Patients

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Including Butyrate-Rich Food Sources in Your Diet

A representation of foods that make up a butyrate-rich diet

Your body needs dietary fiber to produce butyric acid in the large intestine. Including high-fiber food in your diet is a natural way to enhance your body’s butyric acid level.

You can find plenty of dietary fiber in non-starch carbohydrate forms like:

  • Polysaccharides 
  • Non-digestible oligosaccharides 
  • Resistant starch (RS)

The USDA recommends a daily dietary fiber intake of
25g for women and 38g for men

Resistant starch, which occurs naturally in foods like seeds and legumes, doesn’t release glucose in the small intestine. It resists digestion there (hence the name) to instead be consumed or fermented in the large intestine. 

All of these are sources of undigested dietary fiber your body uses to produce SCFAs with the help of gut bacteria. Below, we offer a list of butyrate-rich food sources that can enhance your body’s butyric acid production.  

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When Do You Need A Butyric Acid Supplement? 

Although a healthy lifestyle and a balanced, fiber-rich diet can enhance butyric acid production in your intestine, you might still need additional oral supplementation under the following conditions:

  • Changes to the intestinal microbiome or bacterial flora, causing low butyrate production   
  • Potential damage to colonocytes
  • Accelerated intestinal passage and intestinal excretion
  • Other pathological conditions

Any of these conditions can make it difficult to consume and tolerate the fiber needed in the sufficient amounts needed to produce the desired butyrate level. A butyric acid nutritional supplement offers an easy way for enhancing butyrate levels in the intestine.

Common Routes of Butyric Acid Supplement Intake 

The conventional ways to increase butyric acid levels in the intestine include: 

  • Butyrate mineral salts. Upon contact with the slightest amount of moisture, butyrate mineral salts emit the distinctively foul smell of butyric acid, which makes this form difficult for patients to ingest orally.  
  • Sodium butyrate enema. An enema injected rectally under medical supervision can also enhance the level of butyric acid in the gut.

Challenges of Using Butyric Acid as A Supplement

If the butyric acid level in your intestine is low, then intake of butyric acid would seem like an obvious solution. However, butyric acid does pose some challenges as an oral supplement:

  • Unpalatable taste and odor. Butyric acid has an acrid taste and a distinctive vomit-like smell. Its repugnant taste and odor make butyric acid a formidable challenge to patient compliance with a supplement regimen. 
  • Quick absorption. The quick absorption of butyric acid in the upper portion of the GI tract can impact its efficacy. 

Encapsulating butyric acid molecules, such as the proprietary methodology Tesseract Medical Research has pioneered, is one way to overcome these obstacles to ingesting a butyric acid supplement. This technological measure: 

  • Protects the butyric acid molecules from breaking down while passing through the stomach (enhancing bioavailability).
  • Enables the slow release of the butyric acid molecules at the desired point in the intestinal tract (optimizing absorption).  

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FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Butyric Acid Supplements

Are there side effects of butyric acid supplements?

The currently available clinical data establish butyric acid as a safe supplement with no toxicity or adverse side effects. Intake of a butyric acid supplement, even in a high amount, is well-tolerated, making it practically impossible to consume too much butyrate.      

What is the recommended amount of butyric acid intake in supplement form?

It is estimated that the daily production of butyric acid in the intestinal lumen is about 5.5 - 7.5 g/ day. The daily requirement for butyric acid falls within a very wide range of 1,000 mg/ day - 10,000 mg/ day. The high viscosity of intestinal contents and the rapid absorption of SCFAs increase the difficulty of determining the optimal amount of butyric acid supplementation for oral intake. However, the recommended amount of butyric acid, as present in currently available nutritional supplements, is 150-300 mg/ day3.   

Can I take a butyric acid supplement with a prescription medicine? 

It is always advised to consult with your health-care provider before incorporating a butyric acid supplement into your diet or taking it with prescription medicine and/ or other supplements.    

How do I determine the efficacy of a butyric acid supplement to support my gut health? 

The efficacy of a butyric acid supplement is determined by the absorption and bioavailability of the butyric acid molecules. Oral supplement formulations using encapsulation techniques display enhanced efficacy compared to non-encapsulated butyric acid. 

Advanced formulations such as ProButyrate®, developed by Tesseract Medical Research, utilize proprietary and revolutionary CyLoc® - DexKey® nutrient delivery technology to further boost the absorption of butyric acid molecules. The CyLoc® technology isolates and encases individual butyrate molecules in their own dextrin carrier to ensure integrity and palatability. The DexKey® technology accompanies each CyLoc® molecule as a release agent to deploy targeted butyrate molecules at the desired point in the intestinal tract. The effective time-release therapeutic delivery of individual butyrate molecules promotes a healthy intestinal environment, resulting in overall positive health benefits.*

Visit Tesseract Medical Research to know more about what butyric acid is and how to incorporate this therapeutic molecule into your diet through our groundbreaking supplement formulations.           


1Canani, Roberto Berni, et al. World Journal of Gastroenterology vol. 17,12 (2011): 1519-28. doi:10.3748/wjg.v17.i12.1519

2Stilling, Roman M, et al. Neurochemistry international vol. 99 (2016): 110-132. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2016.06.011

3Banasiewicz, Tomasz, et al. Przeglad gastroenterologiczny vol. 15,2 (2020): 119-125. doi:10.5114/pg.2020.95556

Al Czap, Founder | Tesseract

Al Czap has more than four decades of professional experience in preventative medicine. He founded Thorne Research in 1984 (sold in 2010) and he published Alternative Medicine Review for 17 years beginning in 1996. AMR was a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed, and indexed medical journal. Al was the first to recognize the need for hypoallergenic ingredients and to devise methods of manufacture for and delivery of hypoallergenic products to underserved patient populations. His work has greatly impacted those with impaired immune and digestive systems and compromised health due to environmental exposures.

The advanced formulations based on our revolutionary, patented, and patent-pending technology are only available through Tesseract. No other medical, pharmaceutical, or supplement company is licensed to utilize our proprietary technology.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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