You may have seen fulvic acid supplements in health stores or heard about fulvic acid from social media or health blogs.
Humic acid is a humic acid which means it’s a component of humus. It’s found in soil, compost, shilajit, peat, coal, rock sediments, and bodies of water. It results from geochemical and biological reactions typical of the decomposition process of plants in a compost heap.
Shilajit is a better-known supplement that’s high in fulvic acid – 15-20%. It’s been used in traditional medicine, including Ayurvedic medicine for digestive issues, altitude issues, nervous disorders, and heart ailments. It’s also used to enhance performance and strengthen the immune system.
Many of the health benefits of shilajit are ascribed to the high concentration of fulvic acid.
In recent decades, more studies have looked into the potential health benefits of fulvic acid. It works by improving gut health which helps us absorb nutrients better. Better gut health also translates to better immune function. Furthermore, research suggests that fulvic acid may have a positive impact on allergies, inflammation, and brain disorders.
We used to get higher amounts of humic acids from our diets. Unfortunately, modern farming techniques have decreased the amount of nutrients in our food, so people substitute them through supplements.
Immunity and Inflammation
Research on fulvic acid suggests that it may be helpful in reducing inflammation, an immune response that’s linked to many chronic medical conditions. Test-tube studies have found that it can limit the level of inflammatory substances such as the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha).
A small study conducted with people with HIV found that participants who supplemented their antiretroviral medications with doses of shilajit of up to 9,000 mg per day saw greater health benefits than those who only took antiretroviral medications. They reported having less nausea, diarrhea, and weight loss. The treatment seemed to protect them from some of the side-effects of antiretroviral medications and made their bodies respond better.
Although the research we have so far suggests that fulvic acid may improve immune function and enhance antioxidant activity, it’s important to note that these are small studies and results are mixed. Moreover, this isn’t a supplement that can cure or prevent diseases. The best way to improve your immune system is by getting enough rest, exercising, and following a healthy diet.
Gut health is important for our immune systems, hormone production, stress responses, appetite control, and much more. Fulvic acid improves gut health by helping “good bacteria” repopulate and restore balance in the microbiome.
Problems in the microbiome can trigger autoimmune reactions resulting in inflammation. Some studies suggest that fulvic acid may be beneficial for conditions such as:
• Inflammatory bowel disorders
• Bacterial infections
• Flu and common colds
• Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
According to some studies, fulvic acid may also be beneficial to brain health. For example, animal studies have shown that shilajit can reduce swelling and pressure in the brain and can therefore lead to better outcomes after a traumatic brain injury.
Test-tube studies found that fulvic acid can slow down the development of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. It interferes with how certain proteins that have been linked to brain disease interact with each other. A study done with people who have Alzheimer’s found that participants who received shilajit and B vitamins had better brain function than those in the placebo group.
Some studies conducted on animals suggest that fulvic acid may also improve memory. Fulvic acid seems to have neuroprotective qualities, but more human studies are needed.
Other Health Benefits
Fulvic acid may have other health benefits as well:
• Cholesterol – Animal studies found that fulvic acid can lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
• Muscle strength – Human studies found that shilajit supplements help improve muscle strength.
• Cellular function – Research shows that fulvic acid can help protect the function of the mitochondria.
• Cancer – Test-tube studies found that fulvic acid can prevent the spread of some types of cancer cells and can induce cancer cell death.
• Testosterone – A study done with 96 male participants found that the men who took a 250 mg shilajit supplement twice per day had much higher testosterone levels than the placebo group.
• Skin health – Fulvic acid can also be used to reduce irritation caused by eczema, bug bites, and rashes, which is why it’s also sold as a topical treatment.
• Energy and endurance – Animal studies found that fulvic acid supplementation increased the subjects’ endurance in swimming tests. People who take fulvic acid supplements also report feeling like they have more energy. This may be due to the effects humic acid is believed to have on gut health and nutrient absorption.
Once again, keep in mind that although some research suggests that fulvic acid has many potential health benefits, further human studies are needed.
Safety & Side Effects
Since human studies on fulvic acid are fairly limited, it’s difficult to determine the recommended dosage, especially since, as with many supplements, the dosage also depends on the age and weight of the individual taking them.
One study conducted with 30 male participants found that a daily dosage of up to 80 mL of 3.8% carbohydrate-derived fulvic acid is safe. Mild side effects like headaches, sore throat, and diarrhea can occur at higher doses.
Another study on the prolonged use of shilajit for people with HIV found that a daily dose of 6,000 can be used safely, without significant side-effects.
Other studies on healthy adults found that a daily dose of 500 mg of shilajit over a period of up to 3 months doesn’t cause significant side-effects.
Before taking fulvic acid or shilajit supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor since they can interfere with certain medications such as immunosuppressants or anticoagulants. If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, it’s not recommended to take fulvic acid or shilajit supplements because of the lack of safety information.
Likewise, the quality of the supplements is very important, so buy products that have been tested by third-party organizations. Some supplements have been found to be contaminated with harmful compounds. In regards to dosage, you should follow the instruction on the label after consulting your doctor.