Last Updated June 13th, 2021
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a carbohydrate. It is a substance that is naturally present in the human body. It is vastly present in the fluids of the eyes and the joints. The ones that are used for medical applications are extracted from the combs of a rooster or manufactured from the bacteria in the laboratory. The key role of hyaluronic acid is to act as a cushion or as a lubricant. It has other roles as well. Hyaluronic acid is also called hyaluronan.
Role of hyaluronic acid in the body
As a cancer indicator
The level of this substance plays a role in cancer cell growth and spread of this disease. So it is very useful to detect and even investigate cancers using hyaluronic acid as an indicator.
A wound healer
Here, hyaluronic acid is known to play a role in mediating the chain of events related to an injury. Skin acts as a protective barrier from infection. An injury involves tissue damage which opens the door to infectious agents to enter. So the wound healing process must be on time enough to evade such adversity. The hyaluronic acid helps in conveying the important wound healing factors to the site of injury. Hyaluronic acid reduces the size of the wounds and decreases the pain rapidly.
When you apply this substance topically in the mouth, it promotes faster gum healing, especially after dental surgery. It helps in treating mouth ulcers too! It also has antibacterial properties.
Promotes timely inflammation
Inflammation is a condition due to an injury or injection which is characterized by painful red swelling. An inflammation accelerates the response for the body to address the injury or infection. Hyaluronic acid is known to promote early inflammation. Earlier, the inflammation earlier will be the body’s response to repair and this results in early proactive protection from further dangers entering your body.
The newly synthesized cells or tissues need to be brought to the injury site for repair. Hyaluronic acid plays an important role in the migration of cells to the site of injury. They are secreted out and this also helps in maintaining a hydrated environment for cell migration by enabling detachment of the cells from the site of production and conveying them to the site of injury.
The set of connective tissues fill up an injured area during the process of wound healing. These tissues are luxurious in hyaluronic acid. You can now see the correlation between hyaluronic acid and filling up of the wounded area or tissue repair.
Hyaluronic acid is present in the skin. It helps in new tissue migration for skin repair as well as maintains hydration (hyaluronic acid has the capacity to bind water molecules). Here, it creates a conveyor for nutrients and new cells to the skin.
Fetal wound healer
Hyaluronic acid is largely present in fetal tissues and you can extrapolate this substance to its involvement in fetal wound healing with no scarring.
How will I benefit from hyaluronic acid?
The benefits of hyaluronic acid are rooted in the functions of the body.
Hyaluronic acid and ageless skin!
Skin aging is because of age and age-related damage. The damaging effect is because of the rise in unstable compounds. The characteristics of skin aging would be moisture loss, loss of elasticity, protein degradation, and wrinkling.
Skin aging is also associated with loss of skin moisture. Hyaluronic acid (HA) has the capacity to fuse water molecules and thus helps in preserving the moisture in the skin. It is richly present in the space between cells. This helps in keeping the skin moist and soft. (Fact: about half the body’s hyaluronic acid is present in the skin).
During the natural aging process, there is a loss of hyaluronic acid due to the damage incurred from unstable compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Also, exposure to the sun, tobacco smoke and pollution will result in the loss of hyaluronic acid.
You can compensate for this loss by consuming supplements of about 240 mg per day for about a month. This has shown a notable surge in the moisture and also reduced the incidence of dry skin. Hyaluronic acid has paved its way into skincare creams. Application of hyaluronic acid helps in reducing the wrinkles, redness, and dermatitis (itchy skin inflammation). Some dermatologists also use hyaluronic acid injection as fillers for a full firm looking skin.
Alleviate osteoarthritis with hyaluronic acid
The joints contain fluids in a cushion like a sac. They prevent friction between the bones and also act as a shock absorbent. These fluids majorly contain hyaluronic acid. If there is no fluid, the bones will tend to grind against each other and this can result in pain.
Osteoarthritis is a disruptive bone disorder. Here there is a breakdown of the fluid-filled sac between the joints resulting in the bones grinding against each other. To treat this, you can use hyaluronic acid supplements. Under the doctor’s advice, you can take 80 – 200 mg daily for at least two months. This greatly reduces knee pain. There are times when hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the joints for pain relief but this is yet to be investigated thoroughly.
Hyaluronic acid for acid reflux
Acid reflux is a condition where the contents of the stomach get vomited onto the throat thereby damaging the food pipe and also causing pain. There are researches showing that hyaluronic acid can heal the damaged lining of the food pipe and also accelerate the recovery process.
Another study also shows that upon taking a hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate supplement along with an acid-reducing medication, the decrease in the acid reflux symptoms amounts to 50% than taking the acid reflux reducing medication alone. Further investigations need to be conducted and more proofs need to be dug out. This objective seems very promising.
Ease your bladder pain with hyaluronic acid
The cell lining contains hyaluronic acid. You should know that about 3 to 6% of women suffer from a condition called interstitial cystitis (a painful bladder condition). This disorder causes a frequent need to urinate, pain in the pelvic area, anus, and vagina.
Here the surface layer of the bladder would be damaged (loss of hyaluronic acid) making it more open towards infection. Administration of hyaluronic acid to treat this has been very useful in reducing the pain and also minimizing the frequent urination. It is administered directly into the bladder via a catheter. Here the reason for the alleviation of the pain is that the hyaluronic acid replenishes the damaged surface of the bladder by restoring the lost amounts back into the surface layer.
Hyaluronic acid for dry eye and even dry mouth
Dry eye occurs in approximately 1 out of 7 older adults. This occurs due to reduced tear production or tears evaporating too quickly. Hyaluronic acid has the capacity to bind to or retain water molecules or moisture. This property is extrapolated to using it to treat dry eye conditions.
There are eye drops that contain 0.2 to 0.4% of hyaluronic acid. Apart from treating dry eyes, they also improvise on good eye health. There are studies going on to develop contact lenses that contain slow-release hyaluronic acid to treat dry eye conditions.
Hyaluronic acid and stronger bones
The bones also contain hyaluronic acid. There are trials ongoing to investigate the effects of hyaluronic acid supplements on bone health. At regular intervals of time, the hyaluronic acid in the bones gets replenished. So the bone loss can be prevented. This principle is the basis for bone repair treatments. There are supplements that are involved to provide hyaluronic acid for the bones. The hyaluronic acid supplements are in oral or injection form. Apart from this, you can include other ingredients that are vital for the biosynthesis of hyaluronic acid in the body.
- Magnesium – almonds, bananas, legumes, pumpkin seeds, spinach, etc.
- Sulfur – cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, etc.
- Zinc – chickpeas, dark chocolate, turkey, almonds, yogurt, etc.
- Iron– dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, lean beef, etc.
- Vitamin C – citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, tomatoes, etc. This nutrient also prevents the breakdown of the bones due to damage by unstable compounds.
Work is still in progress to gain more proofs towards this significance.
In fact, hyaluronic acid eye drops are often used in eye surgeries as they facilitate fast wound healing. In conditions of dry mouth or hyposalivation (salivary secretion is very low), there are lozenges of hyaluronic acid available to treat this condition based on the moisture retaining property of hyaluronic acid.
Possible Side Effects and Precautions
Hyaluronic acid is generally very safe to use. The side effects or allergic reactions are very rare.
A study on 60 people with osteoarthritis with an administration of 200 mg hyaluronic acid daily for one year showed no negative side effects. Caution must be exercised in case of administration of the same in breastfeeding or pregnant mothers.
There are reports pointing out to accelerated growth of cancer upon administration of hyaluronic acid. That is why those with cancer or with a history of cancer must avoid consuming it. The injections may cause some unwanted effects which need medical attention. Consult your doctor immediately.
Common side effects
Difficulty with moving
Muscle pain or stiffness
Pain in the joints
Less common side effects
Swelling or redness in the joints
Coldness and discoloration of the skin
Feeling of pressure
An interesting fact! Snake venoms cause tissue damage because they contain an enzyme called hyaluronidase. This enzyme degrades the hyaluronic acid in the tissues resulting in tissue disruption. That is why the snake anti-venom also contains hyaluronidase inhibitors.
The Bottom Line
Hyaluronic acid is present in every cell in the body. Its role in the body is branched to wound healing, shock absorbent, tissue conveyer, skin maintenance and even bone health. The benefits of using hyaluronic acid supplements are many. It is known to retain moisture.
This makes it an efficient treatment option for dry skin or dry mouth or even dry eyes. Hyaluronic acid fillers are a much safer replacement for botox as well. Due to its property of soothing inflammation, antibacterial property, and wound healing capacity, they are used to treat any wounds. There is a rise in using it to clear out wrinkles. They are also used to replenish the bone cells and maintain good bone health. Being a carbohydrate, hyaluronic acid has its roots spread out to each and every cell in your body.
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