Butyric acid (butanoic acid) is an organic chemical compound belonging to the group of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). In physiological conditions, it is produced in the large intestine by bacteria responsible for the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates.
Butyric acid positively affects the condition of the intestines. It is a source of energy for intestinal epithelial cells (colonocytes) – it stimulates their growth and differentiation; helps to maintain the integrity of the intestinal epithelium and stimulates the production of mucus in the intestinal mucosa. In addition, it promotes a reduction in the level of proinflammatory cytokines in the gastrointestinal tract.
Due to the characteristic and very unpleasant smell as well as the low durability, pure butyric acid is rarely used. Instead, for therapeutic purposes, salts of butyric acid (most commonly sodium butyrate) and its analogs (e.g., glycerol tri-butyrate, arginine butyrate) are used.