Introduction: What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a mucopolysaccharide that is found in many tissues in our body. A mucopolysaccharide is a long molecule made up of many sugars. The highest concentrations are found in connective tissues such as the synovial fluid in our joints and in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is most famous for its role as s shock absorber during weight bearing and in joint protection. But, it has a number of other functions in our body including functioning as an anti-oxidant, its role in wound repair, lubrication and cell signalling. The fact that hyaluronic acid is so important in many aspects of our health makes it particularly unfortunate that its amount naturally declines with age.
Protection For Your Joints
Hyaluronic acid has been used as a joint supplement in patients with knee osteoarthritis since 1997. The procedure involves an injection into the joint and provides pain relief. Oral supplementation with hyaluronic acid has also been proven to enhance several markers of quality of life in adults with knee osteoarthritis. Oral supplementation has the obvious advantage of avoiding potential complications at the injection site and the need for repeated injections into the joint.
Clinical studies have shown that hyaluronic acid has anti-inflammatory properties which can protect cartilage and improve patients’ mobility. It stimulates the metabolism of chondrocytes which are cells found in the cartilage.
There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests DNA damage and mitochondrial dysfunction also have a role to play in osteoarthritis. This is where hyaluronic acid’s added anti-oxidant properties come into play. Hyaluronic acid reduces the production of substances that break down collagen. These include enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases. In this way, it helps to maintain the joints in good condition.
Another joint disease that has shown improvement with administration of hyaluronic acid is temporomandibular joint syndrome. This is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. Without enough hyaluronic acid in this joint, it is very painful and difficult to open your mouth fully.
Promoting And Maintaining Glowing Healthy Skin
It may surprise you to know that your skin is actually the largest organ in your body. Changes in our skin that occur with aging limits its ability to detoxify, fend off infections and injury, and convert sunlight into vitamin D. Your skin is a reflection of your inner health. Skin that looks older than it should may be the result of stress, excessive sun exposure, insufficient antioxidants, an unhealthy diet and a variety of other factors. Whilst the number of cosmetic procedures have increased throughout the world, topical hyaluronic acid provides us a way to improve our skin health and overall appearance without surgery.
Hyaluronic acid and collagen are both vitally important to maintain the skin’s condition. Lack of hyaluronic acid is responsible for the skin’s wrinkled appearance and altered elasticity in older people. Fibroblasts are a type of skin cell which are in charge of healing and the scarring process. Regulating fibrobalsts will dictate the amount of skin renewal a person undergoes. Hyaluronic acid helps to maintain the balance between sebum and moisture and our skin's complexion.
Hyaluronic acid is also able to block interleukin 1b, a substance that inhibits collagen synthesis. Less interleukin 1b means more collagen production. Recently, hyaluronic acid lozenges have become available. The hyaluronic acid in these lozenges bind to a receptor that is abundant in the oral tissues. Through this route, they are able to suppress enzymes like matrix metalloproteinases that break down collagen and help to reduce inflammatory processes that occur under the skin.
Maintaining Oral Health
Oral Lichen Planus is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the inner lining of the mouth to have red, painful, erosive ulcers. A study published in 2009 involving 124 volunteers compared the use of topical hyaluronic acid versus a placebo. The placebo meant that the volunteers did not know whether they were getting the actual hyaluronic acid or not and, in this way, reduced inaccuracy of the study findings. The study concluded that the redness and soreness scores were reduced in those who used topical hyaluronic acid for up to 4 hours after application.
Hyaluronic acid has also been used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties in plaque-induced gingivitis. Oral diseases may contribute to the overall amount of C-reactive protein in your body, a marker of inflammation. Elevated C-reactive protein levels have been linked to heart disease so maintaining oral health is especially important.
Elderly people and patients with connective tissue disease who are affected by xerostomia, or dry mouth, are particularly susceptible to oral complaints and periodontal or gum disease. They can benefit from hyaluronic acid as it helps to increase salivation and acts as a lubricant.
Prevent Damage To Your Eyes
Another important organ that suffers from lack of hyaluronic acid is the eye. Ultraviolet light is the most common cause of radiation injury to the eye. When too much ultraviolet light is shone, the cornea tries to absorb more of it to protect the inner parts of the eye. This may result in corneal inflammation. Hyaluronic acid helps to protect the cells of the cornea against this. Hyaluronic acid supplementation has also been useful in treating people with dry eyes due to excessive computer use. Avid users of Infobarrel take note!
The benefits conferred by hyaluronic acid mainly depends on its interaction with CD44 receptors found in the body. These are present in skin, smooth muscle cells, the oral cavity and in other areas of our body. Oral hyaluronic acid supplementation in lozenge form is well absorbed through the oral cavity and offers a viable alternative to repeated hyaluronic acid injections.
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