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Hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan, is a substance produced naturally by your body. With arger amounts are found in your skin, eyes and connective tissue, and its primary function is to retain water and lubricate tissue. While its main function is indeed an important one, hyaluronan offers an array of benefits — it can be used as a supplement, a topical solution, eye drops and more. Here are 7 benefits of hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid supplements can give your skin the look and feel you desire. About half of your body’s hyaluronic acid is in your skin, where it binds to water, helping you to retain moisture (1). However, factors such as age, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke and more can decrease your natural count (2, 3). By taking hyaluronan supplements, you can counteract this decrease by providing amounts to incorporate into the skin (4, 5).
It’s been shown that taking doses of 120 to 240 mg per day for at least a month can increase skin moisture while decreasing dry skin in adults (3). Studies have shown that supplementing with hyaluronic acid can make skin appear smoother, which could be due to its hydrating properties (6, 7). In fact, hyaluronic acid serums have been known to reduce redness, wrinkles and even dermatitis (8, 9, 10). Hyaluronic acid fillers can be injected as well, helping to give your skin a firm, more youthful look (11, 12).
Hyaluronan isn’t just useful in combating skin issues. When applied topically in the mouth, it can be effective against gum disease, help gums heal after oral surgery and potentially eliminate ulcers (21) among other benefits of hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronan can also increase the skin’s ability to heal when damaged. It regulates inflammation levels and signals the body to create more blood vessels in the wounded area (13, 14). Not only has it shown to reduce the size of wounds when used, pain has also shown to subside faster than with a placebo or no treatment at all (15, 16, 17, 18). Infection rates can also be reduced thanks to hyaluronic acid’s antibacterial properties (19, 20).
As it naturally exists in our skin, hyaluronic acid can also be found in our joints where it keeps bones lubricated (22). This prevents grinding in the joints, which could potentially be very painful.
This property can be especially useful for those suffering from osteoarthritis. Taking between 80 and 200 mg each day for two months or more has been shown to reduce knee pain for osteoarthritis patients. This is especially true for those between 40 and 70 years old. (23, 24, 25, 26).
Hyaluronan can also be injected into joints as treatment, however, a study of more than 12,000 adults revealed only a modest reduction in pain while the risk of adverse effects was greater (27.)
A possible remedy could be to pair injection treatment with oral hyaluronic acid supplements. This method can help extend pain-relieving benefits as well as increase the length of time between injections (28).
New research has shown benefits of treating acid reflux symptoms with hyaluronic acid. Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents are regurgitated into the throat, resulting in pain and sometimes damage to esophagus lining.
Hyaluronan may help soothe possible damage and even accelerate recovery. A test-tube study concluded that using a hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate mixture to treat acid damaged tissue in the throat helped it heal at a faster rate than when no treatment was applied (29).
We’ve also seen benefits in human studies. One such study concluded that taking a hyaluronic acid/chondroitin sulfate supplement along with acid-reducing medication was 60% more effective at decreasing acid reflux symptoms than an acid-reducing medication by itself. Further, a second study revealed that the same supplement was five times more effective than a placebo (30, 31).
This research is relatively new, so more research is needed to affirm these results. However, these are promising results.
According to a study, 1 of 7 adults aged 65 to 84 suffer from dry eye symptoms due to a reduction in tear production or because tears evaporate too quickly. Hyaluronic acid can be used to treat this thanks to its ability to help retain moisture. It’s been shown that eye drops containing 0.2-0.4% hyaluronic acid can help reduce dry eye symptoms and improve eye health (32, 33, 34, 35).
Slow-release hyaluronic acid is now being used in contact lenses to possibly treat dry eye. In addition, hyaluronan eye drops are used to help wounds heal faster and to fight inflammation during eye surgery (36, 37, 38, 39).
While direct application has been shown to combat eye-related issues and overall eye health, there’s no evidence to suggest taking hyaluronan supplements would have the same results. However, studies investigating this may be conducted in the future.
Animal research is currently being used to examine the effects that hyaluronic acid supplements have on bone health.
A pair of studies found that hyaluronan supplements can help decelerate bone loss in rats with osteopenia, an early stage of bone loss that precedes osteoporosis. Further, some test-tube studies concluded that osteoblasts — cells which are responsible for building new bone tissue — may become more active with high doses of hyaluronic acid (40, 41, 42, 43).
These studies are indeed promising; however, animal and test-tube studies are all the research we have regarding hyaluronan and bone loss. No studies on human bone health have been conducted.
About 3 to 6% of women experience a condition called painful bladder syndrome, or interstitial cystitis, which can cause significant pain and tenderness in the abdomen accompanied with frequent urges to urinate. While causes of the disorder are unknown, these symptoms can be treated with hyaluronic acid when administered into the bladder via a catheter (44, 45, 46, 47, 48).
It’s unclear exactly how hyaluronan provides relief to these symptoms, but researchers believe its healing properties may help repair damaged bladder tissue, resulting in less sensitivity to pain. Research has not yet determined whether hyaluronan supplements can have similar effects (49, 50).
Overall, the benefits of hyaluronic acid has been found to be safe to use with few side effects.
As a compound that’s produced naturally in our bodies, allergic reaction are quite rare. Further, during a study of 60 people suffering from osteoarthritis who were taking 200 mg of hyaluronan per day for a year reported no negative side effects (23).
However, certain areas have not been studied comprehensively. For instance, we don’t know much about the effects during breastfeeding and pregnancy, so people in these groups should avoid using hyaluronan supplements.
There is also evidence that suggests cancer cells have a high sensitivity to hyaluronic acid. Because of this, taking supplements could actually make the cells grow at an accelerated rate, so people with cancer or a history of cancer are advised to avoid hyaluronan (53).
It has also been found that there’s a higher risk of side effects when hyaluronic acid is injected into the skin or joints. Although, the injection procedure, rather than the hyaluronic acid itself, is more commonly associated with negative reactions (54, 55).
Hyaluronic acid supplements provide a wide range of benefits, and most people can take them safely. These supplements are known to offer exceptional benefits for the skin, including relief for dry skin, reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and accelerated would healing. Also, iIt can also be used to alleviate joint pain for those suffering from osteoarthritis. Learn more about our hyaluronic acid product.
Hyaluronan eye drops can also be used for dry eye relief and hyaluronic acid can be administered into the bladder via a catheter to reduce pain associated with interstitial cystitis.
As shown in a number of studies, hyaluronic acid is a very beneficial supplement with limited side effects. It can be effective for a range of conditions, especially joint and skin health, and it can be taken without worry for most people.