Hyaluronic Acid in a Nutshell
Hyaluronic acid is a type of compound that is naturally produced in the body. The highest concentrations of hyaluronic acid in the body are found in the fluids of eyes and joints. Hyaluronic acid also exists within most vertebrate tissues and is known to play a significant role during cell development, wound healing, and regeneration. The amount of hyaluronic acid in our bodies begins to diminish as we age; this is especially significant after the age of 40.
Hyaluronic acid enables cells to retain moisture in the tissue, which keeps the tissue/skin moist and hydrated. In fact, hyaluronic acid molecules are able to absorb up to 1,000 times their own weight in water. Hyaluronic acid also plays an important role in healing damaged tissue.
The Many Uses of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid has many uses, one of the most common being for the treatment of joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. In this sense, hyaluronic acid is injected or taken by mouth to lubricate joints. By providing extra ‘cushioning’ and reducing friction during movement, this helps to repair the damaged tissue.
Many people are familiar with the use of hyaluronic acid in cosmetic surgery as a filler, often used to create fuller lips or to fill in lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid is also often applied to the skin as a moisturizer and to help heal wounds and burns.
Hyaluronic acid has also been approved for use in some eye surgeries (such as cataract removal or repairing a detached retina) to help replace fluids that occur naturally in the eye.
The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a water-loving substance that provides moisture and a soothing effect. Studies have also found hyaluronic acid to be effective in accelerating the wound healing process and helping to repair damaged skin and mucosa.
Many products utilize derivatives of hyaluronic acid to help initiate moisturization and healing for various uses (as mentioned above). As another example, when we look at peri-menopausal changes, women may experience vaginal dryness (inadequate lubrication of the vaginal walls) due to decreased estrogen secretions. Vaginal tissue becomes dry, thin, and less elastic which lends itself to being more fragile and may tear and/or bleed. This often results in discomfort such as itching and burning, increased vaginal infections, and pain during sexual activity. In such a situation, the healing effects of hyaluronic acid may be helpful if used topically.
The Discovery of Hyaluronic Acid
Though it may seem that we are just hearing about it very recently, hyaluronic acid was first discovered over 80 years ago, and has been used in various areas of medicine and cosmetology.
|1934||First discovery of hyaluronic acid by German Pharmacist Karl Meyer and his assistant John Palmer, when they isolated the compound from the eye of a cow|
|1942||First commercial use of hyaluronic acid by Endre Balazs when he applied for a patent to use it as an egg substitute|
|1996||Hyaluronic acid was found to be helpful in the treatment of connective tissue disorders, and also to help speed up recovery of sprained ankles or joint problems in athletes; it also began being used in the cosmetics industry|
|2002||Hyaluronic acid (as an injectable) was brought to the public’s attention when used to treat an injury in French tennis player, Amelie Mauresmo|
|2003||US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved hyaluronic acid as a wrinkle treatment|
|Present||The effects of hyaluronic acid on different conditions continue to be studied today.|
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