Hyaluronan is a nonsulfated, anionic glycosaminoglycan that is widely distributed throughout the epithelial, neural and connective tissues in the human body. The highest concentrations can be found in the joints and the eyes. It also goes by the names hyaluronic acid, hyaluronate, HA, glycoaminoglycane, hyaluran, hyaluronate sodium, hylan and sodium hyaluronate.
Considered as unique among all glycosaminoglycans, it’s the only one that is nonsulfated and formed in the membrane of the plasma instead of the golgi. Hyaluronic acid can be very huge because its molecular weight can reach the millions. This substance contributes largely in the process of cell migration and proliferation because it is one of the primary components of the extracellular matrix.
Hyaluronic Acid in the Human Body
A person weighing an average of 154 lbs has approximately 15 g worth of hyaluronic acid in the body. Out of this, around one-third is degraded and synthesized on a daily basis. Since the substance is also a component of the streptococcal extracellular capsule, it has been linked with virulence.
In the late 1970s, hyaluronic acid was considered a “goo” molecule. It is a vital component of the cartilage, coating each chondrocyte. Hyaluronic acid is also an important component of the skin especially in tissue repair. HA acts as a lubricant and cushion in the joints and tissues. It also affects the manner by which the body responds to injuries.
Different Uses for Hyaluronic Acid
At present, HA is widely used for a number of various reasons. Some people take it to relieve different joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. The substance can be taken by mouth or by injection. The use of HA for eye surgeries such as corneal transplantation, cataract removal, repair of detached retina and many other injuries has been approved by the FDA.
During the procedure or surgery, HA is injected into the eye to replace its natural fluids. In addition, the substance is used as lip filler in plastic surgeries. Some people apply HA directly on the skin to serve as a moisturizer and to help heal burns, wounds and skin ulcer.
There are some efforts being done to learn about the possible anti-aging effects of using hyaluronic acid. It has been promoted as a “fountain of youth” by some people but currently, there’s no evidence supporting the particular claim. Companies manufacturing skin care products incorporate hyaluronic acid into their concoctions. The FDA approved the use of HA injections for facial wrinkles in 2003. These injections temporarily smoothen out wrinkles by adding some volume under the skin. The effect usually lasts for six months. HA is also used to remove scars.
Health Claims in Using HA
A number of researches also discovered the potential effectiveness of HA for the following conditions:
Joint stiffness and pain
For most people, prescription forms of HA are safe and effective. There’s no enough information about the safety of the substance when taken by the mouth and it is sometimes linked to pain and redness when injected into the body. Also, increased pressure around the eye area may occur after using HA for eye surgery. Hyaluronic acid rarely causes allergic reactions.
Warning and Precautions
For women who are pregnant, hyaluronic acid can be possibly safe when injected. Just seek the assistance of a professional and licensed health provider. However, its safety remains unknown when taken by the mouth or applied on the skin during pregnancy. For women who are breast-feeding, avoid using HA. There’s insufficient evidence about the substance getting into the breast milk and its possible effects to the baby.
If you're looking for joint relief, give hyaluronic acid a try. It may be just the solution you've been looking for.