People have been increasingly interested in the potential uses of natural medicines; fulvic acid is no exception.
Fulvic acid has increasingly gotten attention from inside and outside the scientific community since late 2021. 1 At the time of writing this blog, over 2000 research articles have been published in the National Library of Medicine containing information on fulvic acid.
You may be asking yourself, what exactly is fulvic acid and what benefits are associated with it?
If you are interested in learning why there is a growing interest in fulvic acid, stick around! This blog post will cover what fulvic acid is, where it comes from, and why experts think it could be beneficial. From improving digestive systems to boosting brain performance, let's dig into all that research-backed goodness as we explore everything there is to know about these unique molecules.
What is fulvic acid?
Fulvic acid occurs naturally as an organic acid found within the soil. It is formed through a biological reaction between microorganisms and other organic materials, such as plants. This soil, where fulvic acid is made, is also referred to as “humus,” where it gets its classification as a humic substance. 2
Like most traditional medicines, the medicinal properties of fulvic acid were discovered centuries ago. Fulvic acid is the main active ingredient in Shilajit, used in the ancient art of Ayurvedic medicine. 3 Shilajit has been used in Nepal and north India and is integrated into everyday diets, which is believed to promote longevity. 3
Shilajit can be found in the mountain rocks of the Himalayas and is formed through a rigorous process that takes centuries to complete. 3 It is extracted as a powder that is either black or brown and frequently dissolved in water or milk. It should be noted that when fulvic acid is purified alone, it is yellow in color. 2
People have increasingly started adopting principles of both eastern medicine and western medicine. This promotes modern research to understand better how these natural medicines, like fulvic acid, are derived and their potential benefits on human health.
Structure and properties
Fulvic acid is hydrophilic, meaning that it is soluble in water. This is especially beneficial when formulating a supplement into different dosage forms. In addition, it can be dissolved in a wide range of pH conditions. 4
Fulvic acid also has a small molecular weight, which allows the alteration of biochemical reactions on a cellular level. 4 The molecule's structure is relatively simple, its general molecular formula is C14H12O8, and these elements are arranged in different ways, forming a mixture of covalently linked phenolic, quinoid, and benzene carboxylic acid compounds. 4, 5
Most importantly, fulvic acid has good biocompatibility, meaning it does not cause toxic responses in the body. 6
How is fulvic acid produced?
Let’s take a closer look at how fulvic acid is produced and how it goes from a substance in the soil to a supplement sitting in your medicine cabinet.
One of the methods developed by scientists to extract fulvic acid is described here. The humus soil, containing fulvic acid molecules, is dissolved in water. The mixture is then filtered twice to separate the solubilized fulvic acid further. 7 Additionally, this step helps to remove other impurities that may be present. 7 Fulvic acid has been created by the breakdown of organic plant substances and millions of beneficial microbes, so further purification is needed. To purify the product further, any remaining organic compounds from the microorganisms are digested, and any trace metals, such as iron and aluminum, are removed. 7
It should be noted that the composition of fulvic acid can vary slightly with where it has been sourced. There can be variations to the soil it is sourced from, having variable oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon content. 4, 8 Variations of the soil could ultimately affect how the fulvic acid functions, which is why it is essential to source the supplements from reputable sources.
What are fulvic acid benefits?
We have discussed the details of what fulvic acid is, how it is made, and how it can be extracted. Now let’s start looking at how fulvic acid could be taken as a supplement and its benefits on human health.
Fulvic acid most commonly can be taken orally but also applied topically. It can be absorbed well in the stomach and gets excreted from the body within hours. 3, 9
Fulvic acid is a supplement with many claims to boost overall well-being and support positive effects on various health conditions.
Support gut function
When it comes to maintaining good health, having healthy gut bacteria is vital. It has been shown that poor gut health can have unintended health consequences. Unfortunately, regulating the balance of beneficial and harmful microorganisms in your gastrointestinal tract can seem daunting.
Luckily, fulvic acid may help restore the equilibrium of bacteria by increasing the level of "good" bacteria, allowing you to achieve an optimally functioning microbiome within your digestive system. 10
The naturally occurring fulvic acid in the soil provides essential availability and absorption of various minerals and trace elements. 4, 11 Fulvic acid can chelate these minerals and elements to provide proper absorption to surrounding plants. 11 It has been speculated that this would also improve human nutrient absorption at a cellular level. 4
Research studies have also shown fulvic acid to support intestinal digestion. 10
Assist the immune system
Having a healthy immune system is essential for achieving and maintaining optimal health. Your immune system helps to protect against illness from multiple pathogens. These may include viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
A complex network of cells and organs must work together to have a well-functioning immune system. The main components of the immune system include a variety of white blood cells, the lymphatic system, bone marrow, and the thymus. 12
Fulvic acid, administered as Shilajit, has increased white blood cell function. 13 Other studies have shown an increase in CD4, and CD8 cells, which are the cells that are responsible for recognizing foreign pathogens. 13, 14
Supplementation with fulvic acid has also shown increased activity in phagocytes and lysozymes. 15 Phagocytes are immune cells engulf harmful pathogens, and lysozymes are antimicrobial enzymes that break down harmful pathogens.
Support cardiovascular health
Heart health is essential but something many people tend to neglect. Heart disease is the most prevalent cause of death in men and women and can manifest as high blood pressure, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, and heart attacks.
Some damage to the cardiovascular system may be associated with oxidative stress. Excessive oxidative stress can lead to cellular damage in cardiac cells. 16
Some markers can be found within the blood, indicating cardiac damage. Some of these markers are SGOT, LDH, and CK-MB. 17 in a study evaluating fulvic acid’s ability to protect the heart, animals treated with fulvic acid were found to have a reduction in these biomarkers that indicate cardiac damage. 17
This same study showed associated benefits that occurred with fulvic acid through beneficial changes in blood pressure and heart rate. 17
Support brain health
Brain health is another facet of our well-being that we must work to maintain. As a person ages, their brain function may start to change, and mental function may begin to decline. 18
In one study, tau-based protein biomarkers were used to evaluate the amount of neuronal injury present. The neurons are connections within the brain that send informational messages to keep the body functioning correctly. In this study, it was discovered that when cells were exposed to fulvic acid, there was a decrease in the amount of tau aggregation, which could contribute to neuronal damage. 19
Interestingly, one study also demonstrated that fulvic acid could contribute to neuronal growth, but more research is still needed. 20
Taking fulvic acid
If you are interested in supplementing your diet with fulvic acid, some people turn to dietary sources. These may include vegetables in contact with humus, where naturally occurring fulvic acid may be present. Some of these vegetables include deep-rooted vegetables, such as carrots, beets, potatoes, and onions. However, this is not a reliable source due to the vastly different locations these vegetables may be sources.
A more controlled manner of increasing fulvic acid consumption could be through the addition of a dietary supplement.
For enhanced benefits, choose an option with added plant-derived micronutrients to help maximize benefits.
What are the potential side effects?
Each person may have different experiences when taking a supplement. Most therapeutic substances have some side effects that could potentially occur. If taking a dose higher than recommended, there can also be an increased risk.
Some of the reported side effects of fulvic acid, which should be watched out for, include diarrhea, headache, and sore throat.
With that said, fulvic acid supplements have generally been considered safe, but any side effects should be mentioned to physicians and pharmacists.
For now, pregnant and breastfeeding women and children should avoid fulvic acid supplementation due to safety studies still being conducted.
Fulvic acid is a powerful compound that has many proposed benefits. By understanding the benefits of fulvic acid, we can learn to utilize it for optimum health.
To learn more about how fulvic acid can benefit you, check out our website, which has detailed information on this unique compound.
The statements made in this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician or an individual consultation. Neither Dr. Hughes nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians or pharmacist before beginning any supplement.
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11. Swat M, Rybicka I, Gliszczyńska-Świgło A. Characterization of Fulvic Acid Beverages by Mineral Profile and Antioxidant Capacity. Foods. 2019;8(12):605. doi:10.3390/foods8120605
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15. Lieke T, Steinberg CEW, Pan B, et al. Phenol-rich fulvic acid as a water additive enhances growth, reduces stress, and stimulates the immune system of fish in aquaculture. Sci Rep. 2021;11:174. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-80449-0
16. Senoner T, Dichtl W. Oxidative Stress in Cardiovascular Diseases: Still a Therapeutic Target? Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2090. doi:10.3390/nu11092090
17. Cardioprotective effect of fulvic acid on doxorubicin induced cardiac oxidative stress in rats. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. Published July 31, 2018. https://ijpsr.com/bft-article/cardioprotective-effect-of-fulvic-acid-on-doxorubicin-induced-cardiac-oxidative-stress-in-rats/
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