Hyaluronic acid has received much press lately as a natural source of health and beauty. In fact, there are so many uses and benefits of hyaluronic acid, it is instructive to clarify and organize them.
The three main categories of uses for hyaluronic acid are: anti-aging treatments, nutritional supplements, and medical treatments.
Anti-Aging Supplements and Creams
As we age, hyaluronic content in the skin changes due to two separate clinically proven factors, decrease in HA synthesis and shift from concentration from the epidermis to the dermis. These changes can leave the epidermis depleted in hyaluronic acid resulting in thinning, aging, and decreased moisture in the skin. Nutritional supplement and beauty products such as Episilk ® contain ultra-high concentrations of hyaluronic acid in order to provide intensive moisture for aged skin that suffers from the dryness and wrinkles. When applied to the skin, HA can penetrate the skin surface and replenish the natural levels already present. Like hyaluronic acid produced in the body, hyaluronic acid used in this form moisturizes from the dermis to the epidermis – from deeper layers of the skin to the outer layer.
Hyaluronic acid extracted from rooster combs cannot be absorbed by the intestinal tract. But, Japanese scientists have developed a proprietary enzyme-cleaving technique to lower the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid without altering its chemical nature. This allows hyaluronic acid to be taken orally as a nutritional supplement, many varieties of which are readily available for commercial use.
Hyaluronic acid based gel injections are a new option for the on-spot treatment of facial wrinkles. These shots must be administered by a dermatologist and last up to 4 to 6 weeks.
Products containing hyaluronic acid are in use or are being researched to aid in the prevention and treatment of symptoms related to connective tissue disorders such as: fractures, hernias, glaucoma, keratoconus, detached retinas, osteoarthritis, TMJ, prevention of scarring, vocal chord repair insufficiency, wrinkled skin, cartilage damage, and wound and ligament healing. Of these, osteoarthritis has recently become a particularly popular area for HA treatment. Physicians have injected hyaluronic acid directly into the synovial fluid in the knee as a treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee for the past 20 years. There is, however, an ongoing debate as to the efficacy of this treatment.