Fulvic Acid. Maybe you’ve read about it on health blogs or social media. It’s possible you’ve even seen products based on fulvic acid in stores. If you’re reading this article, we will assume you’re curious about what it is and what it does.
First, we have to explain what humic acid is. Humic acid is called humic acid because it’s found in the humus. It’s present in the soil, compost, rock sediments, and bodies of water. It is the product of biological and geochemical reactions that occur when plants decompose.
You may have heard of shilajit since it’s a better-known supplement used in Ayurvedic medicine. Shilajit has a high concentration of fulvic acid, typically somewhere between 15 and 20 percent. It’s commonly used for digestion, issues stemming from high altitude, heart problems, and nervous disorders. People also use it to boost their immune systems and athletic performance.
Many of the health benefits enumerated above are ascribed to shilajit’s high concentration of fulvic acid.
More research into how fulvic acid works and its health benefits have been done in recent years, and it seems that the effects are based on its ability to boost gut health which makes us better at absorbing nutrients from our food. Since gut health is linked to the immune system, it also helps our immune responses. Some studies indicate that fulvic acid can be beneficial for brain disorders, inflammation, and people who suffer from allergies.
Our diets used to contain higher levels of fulvic acid, but modern farming has unfortunately reduced them, as with other nutrients, which is why many people try to make up for this deficit through various supplements.
We’ll start the list of benefits with gut health since this is the primary mechanism of action for supplements derived from fulvic acid. As we mentioned before, our immune systems are linked to gut health. But that’s not all. Many of our biological processes are dependent on gut health, including appetite control, nutrient absorption, hormone production, and our responses to stress.
Our digestive tracts contain trillions of different types of bacteria, most of which live in the colon. They help us extract nutrients from food and produce some essential vitamins. The “good bacteria,” meaning the types of bacteria that are beneficial to our health also prevent the proliferation of “bad bacteria” that can make us sick.
Fulvic acid helps restore balance in the microbiome by facilitating the repopulation with “good bacteria.”
Disruptions in the microbiome have been shown to cause pathological autoimmune reactions that result in inflammation. Based on this, research suggests fulvic acid may be able to help people with bacterial infections, inflammatory bowel disorders, and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
Immunity & Inflammation
According to some studies, fulvic acid can reduce inflammation, a response of the immune system related to a number of chronic health conditions. It has been shown through test-tube studies that it can reduce the levels of some inflammatory substances, including TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha). TNF-alpha is a cytokine the immune system uses for cell signaling. Since it promotes the inflammatory response, it’s linked to autoimmune disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and refractory asthma.
Another small study looked at how shilajit could benefit people with HIV if taken as a supplement to their antiretroviral medications. The participants took doses up to 9,000 mg and experienced greater health benefits like less weight loss, diarrhea, and nausea. It appears that the shilajit supplements made their bodies respond better to the antiretroviral medication and protected them from some of the side-effects.
Although current research has given promising results, it’s important to remember that these are small-scale studies.
Research also indicated that fulvic acid can support brain health. Results from animal studies show a reduction in brain swelling and pressure, which means that it could be used to help with recovery after traumatic brain injuries.
Other in-vitro studies found that fulvic acid can delay the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s. A study conducted with human participants found that shilajit and vitamin B supplements can help people with Alzheimer’s improve their brain function. It appears that fulvic acid works by interfering with the way some proteins that accelerate brain disease interact with each other.
Further animal studies indicate that fulvic acid has neuroprotective qualities and can help with memory.
Additional Health Benefits
Other health benefits linked to fulvic acid include:
- Cellular function – Studies show that fulvic acid can help preserve mitochondrial function.
- Cancer – In-vitro studies found that fulvic acid slows down the progression of certain types of cancer cells and can even trigger cancer cell death.
- Skin health – Since fulvic acid helps with inflammation, it’s also used as a topical treatment and can soothe eczema, rashes, and irritation caused by bug bites.
- Muscle strength and endurance – Fulvic acid may also be able to boost muscle strength. Animal studies have found that it increases endurance, and people who have taken supplements report having more energy and endurance.
It’s difficult to determine a safe dosage because of the limited studies we have on fulvic acid involving human participants. As with other supplements, the dosage also depends on individual factors like age and weight.
A human study conducted with thirty male participants reported that a dosage of up to 80 mL of 3.8% carbohydrate-derived fulvic acid per day is safe. At higher doses, participants reported mild side-effects like sore throat, headaches, and diarrhea.
Another study conducted with people with HIV reported that daily dosages of 6,000 mg of shilajit can be used safely, and there were no significant side-effects after prolonged use.
Further studies involving healthy adults report daily shilajit doses of 500 mg can be used safely for three months without significant side-effects.
If you’re considering taking shilajit or fulvic acid supplements, we recommend you first talk to your doctor about it. It can interact with some medications, including anticoagulants and immunosuppressants. Your doctor knows your medical history and current health status, so they are in the best position to tell you if it’s safe. Shilajit and fulvic acid supplements are not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding because we still don’t have sufficient information to determine the safety.
It’s important to consider the quality of the products you buy. Some supplements using unpurified shilajit were found to be tainted with harmful substances. Always buy products from trustworthy companies and make sure they were tested by independent organizations.