Excerpts from “Hyaluronic Acid: Powerful Anti-Arthritic and Anti-Wrinkle Supplement,” by Martin Stone, MH
As a society, we are obsessed with youth, youth culture, and slowing the aging process. Most approaches to forestalling the inevitable have been intrusive and cosmetic: plastic surgery, liposuction, Botox injections, and so on. Why are we so concerned with staying young and appearing young? Is it because we’ve seen the effects of aging on our parents and don’t want to end up like them, old and worn out before their time, or perhaps we’re afraid of dying in the prime of our lives?
Today, more people are living longer than at any other time in history. But still, too many people are dying at too young an age. Do our bodies somehow have a genetically predetermined expiration date no matter what strategies we use to postpone the inevitable signs of age? Are there ways for us to reset this “expiration date” and live longer, healthier lives?
Statistics on Aging
During the second half of the twentieth century, twenty years were added to the average person’s life span. Several factors are responsible for this increase in longevity, including advances in medicine, better nutrition, and improved sanitation. These circumstances set the stage for a never-before-seen shift in population dynamics—the baby boom. The previous factors, combined with an increased fertility rate in many Western countries immediately following World War II, has led to a significant increase in the number of people over sixty-five. This phenomenon will continue through 2030. Additionally, the average lifespan worldwide is expected to increase by another ten years by 2050.
The Battle Against Time
Many people know about the effectiveness of glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 essential fatty acids, devil’s claw, and other supplements used to fight temporary inflammation and treat arthritis. But are there other supplements that can help ameliorate the aches and pains and other effects of aging?
What if there were a supplement that could help give you:
- Younger looking skin with fewer wrinkles
- Healthier joints with less pain and greater range of motion
- Increased immune system function
This is the potential of hyaluronic acid, an essential material that the body creates in abundance during our early years but which steadily decreases in quantity as we age.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid was first used commercially as a food source. In 1942, Endre Balazs applied for a patent to use it as a substitute for egg whites in bakery products. I’m sure that he never dreamed how many ways hyaluronic acid would be used today.
Glycosaminoglycan can be found in almost all living organisms that have joints and connective tissue. The human body contains mostly water, but we need some way to keep the water in our cells and tissues. This is where hyaluronic acid comes in. While hyaluronic acid has many functions, its primary task is to bind water molecules to cells and tissues, which helps provide the medium our bodies need for molecular transport and numerous other processes.
As our bodies lose the ability to hold water in cells and tissues as we age, joint conditions such as arthritis start to appear. While this is one of the more obvious symptoms of a decrease in hyaluronic acid levels, another symptom of aging appears in our skin—wrinkles. Strangely enough, many people will accept joint pain and reduced mobility as a natural consequence of aging but will do all they can to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. For this reason alone, many people will use hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid and connective tissue disorders
One of the functions of connective tissue is to lubricate and cushion our joints. It also helps connect the skin to supporting tissues throughout the body. When we are young, our skin is elastic and wrinkles are negligible because hyaluronic acid levels are high enough to maintain adequate water levels in our cells and tissues.
When hyaluronic acid levels are too low, connective tissue disorders typically follow. They include:
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Mitral valve prolapse
The properties of hyaluronic acid are wide-ranging and can affect numerous body symptoms. We now know many of the properties of hyaluronic acid and its specific functions in the body.
- Hyaluronic acid is a special mucopolysaccharide that is created and utilized as a lubricant for human joints. It is found in substantial amounts throughout the body, especially in the young, but is substantially reduced as the aging process occurs.
- When present in a joint, even a joint with minimal or no cartilage, it can provide a cushioning effect, reducing damage and maintaining normal joint function. One of the properties of hyaluronic acid that allows this is its ability to absorb up to three thousand times its own weight in water. Because of its lubricating and joint cushioning properties, further animal studies have reported potential disease-modifying effects and possible treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- New research has revealed that hyaluronic acid may stimulate the immune system, activate white blood cells, and control cell migration. This research indicates that hyaluronic acid may reduce the need for antibiotics.
- In addition, hyaluronic acid reduces the growth rate of several strains of bacteria, and it has been reported to reduce the incidence of chronic bronchitis.
- As a result of its primary property of water retention and absorption, hyaluronic acid is now used in cosmetics such as makeup and moisturizing creams to help hold water in the skin and thereby reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Hyaluronic acid has also been used during cataract surgery to protect the corneal endothelium during postoperative recovery.
So what’s the takeaway?
Hyaluronic acid is proving to be a valuable ally in the treatment of many conditions ranging from arthritis to skin disease. The fact that it has few, if any, side effects and has such long-lasting therapeutic effects makes it a natural addition to any baby boomer’s medicine cabinet. Typically, when we can use substances that naturally occur in the body (orthomolecular substances), we don’t usually have to worry about side effects (although there are some exceptions, especially hormones).
People are becoming more aware that we don’t have to be satisfied with merely covering the symptoms of illness; we can get to the root cause of the condition in many cases by simply giving the body the nutrients it needs to rebuild itself; this is what every system in the body does every day. This is how we were designed; we heal ourselves from daily damage every day. Think of it this way: when you cut yourself, does the bandage you put on the cut heal the injury? Of course not, it merely reduces the chance of infection. Your body does all the repair work by itself, with no conscious input from you. For this reason, it is important to realize that unless the foundations of health are addressed first, it doesn’t matter what supplements you use. You can’t replace clean water, a healthy diet, frequent physical exercise, and healthy emotional attitudes with a supplement. The word “supplement” says it all: it is meant to supplement a healthy lifestyle.