Eyes, Skin Conditions, Age related illnesses, Joint disorders | May 27, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
While “acid” sounds downright corrosive, hyaluronic acid (HA) is a gooey substance that actually attracts water and is a key component in many body and cellular fluids. It promotes cell structure, hydration and lubrication in the skin, connective tissues, joint fluids, and in the liquid-y environments of the eyes .
Signs of ageing have been linked to a decreased production in hyaluronic acid . As cells are damaged through natural ageing processes or oxidisation, they create less hyaluronic acid which leads to sagging skin, wrinkles, vision loss, joint pain and more.
When cellular production fails, hyaluronic supplements may help to combat these health conditions:
If you're looking for the fountain of youth, you may have found it. Hyaluronic acid is the latest breakthrough in the endless quest for the magic beauty potion.
It is a key ingredient in high quality moisturisers because of its essential role in the hydration of skin tissue, and the tightening effects of collagen and elastin . In fact, HA is able to hold up to one thousand times its weight in water. After the 30th birthday, skin takes on significant ageing properties and the production of fibroblasts decreases, resulting in lower secretions of hyaluronic acid .
It's possible that supplements can restore this to previous levels – or at least prevent further loss. Hyaluronic acid is also a strong antioxidant which can protect against cellular damage caused by UV radiation and subsequent signs of sun-ageing .
Topical or cosmetic hyaluronic acid formulations use either “high molecular weight” or “low molecular weight” HA. Lower molecular weight hyaluronic acid is able to penetrate and hydrate the deeper levels of the skin, as compared to higher molecular weight forms. This deep hydration comes at a cost – the lower the molecular weight, the higher the price.
Synovial fluid acts as a protective film around each cartilage cell within joints. It is rich in hyaluronic acid which lubricates the joint and enhances shock absorption .
In chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, stiffness and decreased mobility are due to lower levels of both synovial fluid and hyaluronic acid within the joint.
Boosting HA levels can help to ease joint pain and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.
In 2016, a review concluded that arthritic pain could be significantly relieved by taking 240mg of an HA per day , and a study from 2016 showed that hyaluronic acid supplements (in combination with L-glutamine) can regulate immune activity and reduce inflammation in osteoarthritis, preventing further destruction of the joint .
If you're looking for fast relief, hyaluronic injections have been shown to relieve arthritic pain and improve range of movement as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) .
Hyaluronic acid may have a role in cancer therapy by preventing the unregulated growth of cells. HA binds to a protein involved in cell communication and signalling. This protein, CD44, is over-expressed in cancer cells which causes excessive cellular communication, mixed up signals, and the hyper-proliferation of cells. By binding to CD44, hyaluronic acid can bind to this protein to regulate communications – this easy binding may also provide useful in cancer drug delivery .
CD44 is over-expressed on cancer cells and cancer stem cells, leading to excessive cell communication – the signals sent between cancer cells sound something like “grow! Keep dividing! Grow more!”. By easily binding to CD44, hyaluronic acid prevents the over-expression of the protein, regulates cell communication, and may even help to deliver cancer drugs to their targets  .
As an essential component of eye fluids, hyaluronic acid promotes lubrication and flushing of the eye and relieves the symptoms of dry eyes – in fact, it's commonly found as the key ingredient in lubricating eye drops .
Not only does HA lubricate the eye, but it can also improve the healing of any damage to the corneal tissue, reduce inflammation, and protect against oxidative stress   – this could relieve symptoms of conjunctivitis, red-eyes or blepharitis, and could prevent vision complications.
While studies look at the topical application of hyaluronic acid to treat eye conditions, it's possible that oral supplementation could boost the concentration of HA in the natural tears, preventing the eye conditions in the first place.
“Acid” doesn't sound like an effective treatment for reflux, does it? But the soothing properties of hyaluronic acid can reduce symptoms and boost healing of tissues in the stomach and oesophagus. A 2013 study looked at the effects of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin-sulphate on gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in patients who were not responding to the typical treatment of proton-pump inhibitor medications. The study found that the combination decreased the symptoms of heartburn, acid regurgitation, nausea and discomfort – most participants experienced total resolution of their symptoms within 30 minutes! 
A more recent also showed that the same combination could provide additional barriers against damage caused by reflux .
Hyaluronic acid is available in skincare products, eye drops, supplement capsules, powders and tablets. Your doctor may be able to recommend and prescribe a hyaluronic acid based treatment for reflux, or administer a hyaluronic acid injection for joint pain.
NOTE: Most hyaluronic acid on the market is not suitable for vegetarians as it is extracted from animals (specifically – rooster combs!).
Hyaluronic acid is well tolerated internally and topically by most adults with few reported side effects.
Safe and effective doses of oral hyaluronic acid supplements sit between 100mg - 200mg per day. Speak to your doctor, nutritionist or naturopath for personalised advice on how to safely take hyaluronic acid. Side effects can include nausea, diarrhoea and hot flushes.
Side effects of topical and injectable hyaluronic acid include temporary irritation, redness and inflammation.
Do NOT use topical hyaluronic acid or take a supplemental form if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Its safety has not been established.
Speak to a qualified integrative doctor, nutritionist or naturopath for personalised advice on dosage and forms of hyaluronic acid for your condition.
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