Butyrate, a fatty acid, comes from two dietary sources. First, it is one of the metabolic end products of unabsorbed dietary carbohydrate that has been bacterially fermented in the gut. Butyrate is the single biggest metabolite of fiber. Second, the only direct source in the diet is from butter, which contains 3% butyrate. Adequate amounts of butyrate are necessary for the health of the large intestine cells.

It has a particularly important role in the colon, where it is the preferred substrate for energy generation by colonic cells. Whether by supplement or by enema, a few pilot studies suggest it is useful in reducing symptoms and restoring indicators of colon health in ulcerative colitis, but one study showed no benefit over placebo. Several doctors claim that many people are helped with butyrate enemas. Butyrate levels are commonly measured in comprehensive stool analyses and act as a marker for levels of beneficial bacteria.

Butyrate has been shown to significantly inhibit the growth of cancerous colon cells. Scientists have found a human gene that stops the growth of cancer cells when activated by fiber processing in the colon. Although scientists have long linked butyrate to overall reductions in the incidence of colon cancer, the molecular basis of that benefit has remained largely unknown. Butyrate effects a chemical “unloosening” of molecules that otherwise bind and constrict the activity of the p21 gene. This gene is responsible for the manufacture of p21 protein, a compound that slows the growth of cancer cells. A separate study has indicated a possible benefit in breast cancer prevention.


Butyrate can help with the following


Ulcerative Colitis

Butyrate by enema has substantially reduced the number of bowel movements and amount of bleeding in patients who have not responded to other therapies. This is especially true when the distal colon is involved – an area where the enema can easily reach.





Tumors, Malignant  





May do some good
Likely to help



Butyrate is an important short chain fatty acid that provides fuel for colon cells and may help protect against colon cancer. The most potent dietary source is butter (3%).

Fatty Acids

Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.


The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.


The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.


Any product (foodstuff, intermediate, waste product) of metabolism.


The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.

Ulcerative Colitis

(Colitis ulcerosa): Ulceration of the colon and rectum, usually long-term and characterized by rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, frequent urgent diarrhea/bowel movements each day, abdominal pain.


A pharmacologically inactive substance. Often used to compare clinical responses against the effects of pharmacologically active substances in experiments.


Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.


Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.


Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.

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