Overview

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally present in the human body. It is found in the highest concentrations in fluids in the eyes and joints. The hyaluronic acid that is used as medicine is extracted from rooster combs or made by bacteria in the laboratory.

The FDA has approved the use of hyaluronic acid during certain eye surgeries including cataract removal, corneal transplantation, and repair of a detached retina and other eye injuries. It is injected into the eye during the procedure to help replace natural fluids. The FDA has also approved the use of hyaluronic acid for injection into the knee for patients with kneeosteoarthritis.

People use hyaluronic acid for various joint disorders, urinary tract infections (UTIs), acid reflux, dry eyes, vaginal pain, aging, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work ?

Hyaluronic acid works by acting as a cushion and lubricant in the joints and other tissues. In addition, it might affect the way the body responds to injury.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Likely Effective for

  • Cataracts. Injecting hyaluronic acid into the eye is effective when used during cataract surgery by an eye surgeon.
  • Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Hyaluronic acid is effective for treating mouth sores when applied as a gel or used as a rinse.

Possibly Effective for

  • Aging skin. Some research shows that injecting a specific hyaluronic acid product (Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Allergan) into facial wrinkles can reduce wrinkles for up to one year. Also taking a product containing hyaluronic acid and other ingredients (GliSODin Skin Nutrients Advanced Anti-Aging Formula) by mouth seems to decrease wrinkles and damage from the sun when used for 3 months.
  • Dry eye. Most research shows that using eye drops containing hyaluronic acid up to 8 times a day helps to relieve symptoms of dry eye.
  • Osteoarthritis. Hyaluronic acid can be injected into the joint by a healthcare provider to reduce joint pain and stiffness. Hyaluronic acid is approved by the FDA for this condition. But not all people seem to benefit from this treatment. Also, any improvement is usually short-term. Having hyaluronic acid injected into the joint is not recommended for most people with osteoarthritis, but can be discussed with your doctor. Some early research shows that taking hyaluronic acid by mouth might reduce pain in some people with osteoarthritis. But not all research agrees.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Foot sores in people with diabetes. Research shows that applying products containing hyaluronic acid and other ingredients helps heal diabetic foot ulcer compared to regular treatment. It's not known if this benefit is due to hyaluronic acid or other ingredients.
  • Eye trauma. Some research suggests that hyaluronic acid might be injected into the eye to treat detached retina or other eye injuries.
  • Shoulder pain in people after stroke (hemiplegic shoulder pain). Early research shows that injecting hyaluronic acid might improve pain in people with hemiplegic shoulder pain.
  • Nasal surgery. Early research in people who have had nasal surgery shows that using a hyaluronic acid nose wash might improve sinus scarring and crusting better than a salt-water nose wash.
  • A disorder that affects the bones and joints, usually in people with selenium deficiency (Kashin-Beck disease). Early research shows that injecting hyaluronic acid might improve pain in people with Kashin-Beck disease.
  • Ear infection (otitis media). Early research shows that using a nose wash product containing hyaluronic acid might help to prevent ear infections in children with chronic ear infections.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the nasal cavity and sinuses (rhinosinusitis). Early research suggests that using a nose wash containing hyaluronic acid helps to treat symptoms of sinus infections in people who are also taking antibiotics and steroids.
  • Infections of the kidney, bladder, or urethra (urinary tract infections or UTIs). Research shows that injecting hyaluronic acid with chondroitin sulfate directly into the bladder can reduce the number of UTIs in women with frequent UTIs. Some research also suggests that taking hyaluronic acid by mouth with other ingredients, while also using a vaginal gel containing estrogen, helps to prevent UTIs in women with recurring UTIs.
  • Thinning of vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy). After menopause, vaginal tissue gets thinner. Early research suggests that applying a solution containing hyaluronic acid to the vagina helps to reduce burning, itching, and painful intercourse in women with thinning vaginal tissue.
  • Wound healing. Early research shows that applying hyaluronic acid to the skin might be helpful for treating burns and skin wounds.
  • Muscle soreness caused by exercise.
  • Joint pain.
  • Persistent heartburn.
  • Wrinkled skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Hyaluronic acid is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately. Rarely, it may cause allergic reactions.

When applied to the skin: Hyaluronic acid is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately. Rarely, it may cause allergic reactions.

When given as a shot: Hyaluronic acid is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately. Hyaluronic acid can cause redness and soreness when injected into the joint.

When applied into the eye: Hyaluronic acid is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately. Hyaluronic acid can increase eye pressure when injected into the eye. But this usually resolves within 48 to 72 hours.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy: Hyaluronic acid is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by injection when pregnant. However, there isn't enough reliable information to know if hyaluronic acid is safe to take by mouth or apply to the skin when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Breast-feeding: Hyaluronic acid is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by injection when breast feeding. But researchers do not know if it affects breast milk and what effect that might have on an infant. There isn't enough reliable information to know if hyaluronic acid is safe to take by mouth or apply to the skin when breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Hardening of skin and connective tissue (scleroderma): Applying hyaluronic acid to the skin might make skin ulcers worse in people who have a condition called scleroderma. If you have scleroderma, don't use hyaluronic acid on your skin.

Interactions ?

We currently have no information for HYALURONIC ACID Interactions.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For aging skin: A specific product (GliSODin Skin Nutrients Advanced Anti-Aging Formula, Isocell North America Inc.) containing krill oil, sea buckthorn berry oil, cacao bean extract, and hyaluronic acid, has been used daily for 90 days.
  • For osteoarthritis: A specific product (Oralvisc, Bioibérica) 80 mg has been used daily for 3 months.
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For dry eye: Eye drops (Hyalistil, Hyalein, New Hyaluni, Hyaluni, Visaid) containing 0.1% to 0.3% hyaluronic acid have been used 3-8 times daily.
  • For swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis): Hyaluronic acid (Gelclair, Helsinn Healthcare SA) can be mixed with water and used as a mouth rinse.
BY INJECTION:
  • For aging skin: Healthcare providers can inject a hyaluronic acid product (Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Allergan) into skin wrinkles.
  • For osteoarthritis: Healthcare providers can inject hyaluronic acid into the joint.
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.