The tragic irony of today’s commercialized “anti-aging” concoctions is that, due to a variety of dubious constituents and carcinogenic chemicals that remain unchecked within a shockingly unregulated industry, these “beauty-enhancing” and “healthy” treatments end up doing more harm than good—sometimes even instigating the very thing they’re supposed to protect us from. You don’t have to dig deep to uncover some truly unsettling statistics. Take the lead in lipstick, for example. Or the 1.4 dioxane in baby soap. How about coal tar in shampoo? Consider, too, that more American women have died of breast cancer in the last 20 years than the number of Americans killed in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.[i] Carcinogens are no joke, and they’re more readily available than ever.
It has remained our obligation—as the users of such products—to uncover the toxins and steer clear of seemingly pure and beneficial products which are in essence anything but that. Finding a natural and truly organic alternative isn’t just refreshing: it can be lifesaving. That’s where products like hyaluronic acid step up, natural substances that are already produced by the body and are beneficial by nature, whose advantageous components have been further harnessed by science and pinpointed to help us make the most of them.
It Comes Naturally…
Hyaluronic acid is innately found inside our bodies—approximately 15 grams of it scattered within us, with a third of that amount being synthesized each day—and is produced mostly in the skin (50%), inside our joints, within our eye sockets, and inside other tissues that are supposed to be brimming with collagen (the delightful protein that gives our skin its strength and elasticity). Hyaluronic acid serves to lock in moisture, increase elasticity, and therefore creates youthful-looking skin; composed of natural polysaccharides (an important compound of connective tissue), it is a chief and essential component of the tissues that provide structural support to the cells within our bodies.[ii]
This lubricating substance—finally being touted as an anti-aging supplement provided in lotions, creams, serums, and so forth—has been recommended by dermatologists for years. More recently, it has been recognized for a greater variety of benefits, especially as a hydrating and healing product.
The Anti-Aging Alchemy that Makes Sense
Given its ability to retain moisture, hyaluronic acid helps promote elasticity and smoothness, fighting against the premature signs of aging in the skin (discoloration, wrinkles, blemishes, and so forth). Researchers at Tokyo’s Toho University Ohashi Medical Center analyzed the viscosity and moisturizing effects of hyaluronic acid, underlining that it indeed significantly increases skin moisture and improves dry skin. Topical application helps to combat free radicals that emerge from intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as aging, environmental pollutants, UV radiation, and so forth.[iii]
Is this the secret to eternal youth, then?
Well, perhaps not eternal. We can’t guarantee that yet. But retaining a youthful appearance for longer than you otherwise would? That indeed has been proven.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pavia in conjunction with the Farcoderm Srl European Expertise Network for Wellness and Dermatology in Italy investigated the cosmetic filling efficacy of a product called Fillerina (containing six forms of hyaluronic acid) in decreasing signs of aging and improving facial volume deficiencies; results showed significant improvements in facial contours and volumes (including reduced sagging of face and cheekbones, improved lip volume, and reduced wrinkles) within 30 days or less.[iv]
The signs associated with aging—dryness, wrinkles, and saggy or drooping skin, eyes, and lips, for instance—happen primarily because the molecules in our skin lose the ability to retain water as effectiveness. This is further enhanced by extrinsic catalysts of aging, such as pollutants and UV radiation. Consider, too, that wrinkles and fine lines are more visible in low humidity versus high humidity environments, because the former environments further reduce the skin’s elasticity and moisturizing capacity. Clearly, a product that promotes moisture retention and helps to nourish and rejuvenate the skin can naturally and very effectively reduce all such signs of aging.
Concurrently Hydrating and Healing
Hyaluronic acid’s hydrating and healing properties are interconnected, with the benefits of one advantage directly complementing the other. By improving moisture retention in the skin and body at a unique capacity, hyaluronic acid helps improve the appearance of “chronoaged” skin—skin that is damaged by sun exposure, as revealed by burns, blemishes, wrinkles, and discoloration—and therefore helps the skin look more youthful. Hyaluronic acid is practically the structural component of the mouth and lips, after all, and those connective tissues are made mostly of collagen and water. Studies have shown that hyaluronic acid serves as a “key molecule in skin aging”, as it exhibits a distinct improvement in both intrinsic and extrinsic skin aging. The same study draws on a plethora of research to outline the basic biological functions of hyaluronic acid, including: hydration, joint lubrication, providing a cell migration framework, tissue repair regulation, and the activation of enhanced immune response to inflammation.[v]
Apart from warding off premature aging, hyaluronic acid does wonders for lowering joint pain and tenderness. As it is already found in all bones and connective tissues and tendons, hyaluronic acid’s job is to also provide cushioning and resistance to wear and tear. An increase in hyaluronic acid therefore is useful for reducing the pain associated with degenerative joint diseases and for treating other injuries. It has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoarthritis and certain eye surgeries (such as cataract removal and retina repair), administered by health care providers.[vi]
Researchers have also discovered the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid drops as a solution to reduce dry eye symptoms and to improve the health of the eye’s corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells.[vii] Further studies have shown how hyaluronic acid enhances the body’s very immune system by regulating the activation of inflammatory cells, repairing injury of fibroblasts, repairing tissue and wounds, and enhancing the overall immune response system.[viii] In fact, it has been shown that hyaluronic acid levels correlate with malignancy and poor prognosis; it is thus often serving as a useful tumor marker for prostate and breast cancer, also used to monitor the progression of such diseases.[ix]
The Essence of Balance
Experts caution against the use of hyaluronic acid when pregnant or breast-feeding. It is considered generally safe when consumed, applied topically, or injected, yet recommended only after first consulting your physician.[x] It has been rarely known to cause allergic reactions. Given that hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally present in the human body, it is generally considered a wholesome and benign treatment that offers a variety of benefits to reduce inflammation and injury while promoting youthful skin, a strengthened immune system, and an overall healthier body.