Ask The Pharmacist: Hyaluronic acid may help your skin, joints and eyes

Q: I’m suffering with arthritis pain and I’ve taken more glucosamine than any human can take! I take ibuprofen and naproxen every day, plus hydrocodone for pain. Now, to make matters worse, I have glaucoma. Any fresh ideas for your biggest Illinois fan?

C.N. Decatur, Il.

A: The first idea I have could save your life. Stop taking ibuprofen with naproxen; that kind of combination could poke a hole in your gut and make you bleed to death. Either take one drug or the other, and I don’t have a preference as they are both effective.

My next idea is hyaluronic acid, I’ll shorten that to HA. You make this funny-sounding substance in your body and your joints hunger for it. A lot of celebrities know HA by another name, Juvéderm used frequently as a lip filler. It gives women a big pouty pucker — think Lisa Rinna. Then there’s Restylane, used to eliminate deep laugh lines. Picture funny lady Joan Rivers (who clearly doesn’t want to be seen grinning at her own jokes). Because oral supplements of HA help the body retain moisture, it can relieve skin conditions such as severe dryness, scaliness, eczema or psoriasis. It’s found in hundreds of moisturizers and anti-aging cosmetics.

HA is not just for the rich and wrinkle-phobic; it could help people with painful TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome. I think it could help with osteoarthritis and glaucoma. because when HA is made in your body, it tends to concentrate in your eyes, heart, skin, cartilage and joint fluid.

Hyaluronic acid works by lubricating the joint and increasing the squishiness between the joints. It is usually fine to combine with glucosamine chondroitin or MSM supplements; in fact many OTC supplements have multi-tasking formulas that combine HA with the other ingredients. I am not aware of any interactions of HA with medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) that reduce inflammation such as ibuprofen, naproxen, meloxicam and celecoxib. Actually, taking HA supplements may allow you to reduce your dosage of those drugs over time.

Hyaluronic acid is found in your eye, in the ‘vitreous humor’ which is the gel-like liquid that fills most of your eye. Do you realize what that means? It could help people with vision problems of all sorts including dry eyes, glaucoma, a detached retina or diabetic retinopathy. Ask your doctor about taking HA supplements to support tissue healing after cataract surgery, or any type of surgery for that matter.

Studies point to the fact that hyaluronic acid may be able to minimize scarring, boost the immune system, ease fibromyalgia pain, restore hair color and help certain people who are losing their voice (vocal cord insufficiency).

As impressive as this supplement sounds, I urge you to stick to the lowest effective dose, approximately 100 mg once or twice daily with food. Taking excessive hyaluronic acid will backfire.

Did You Know?

Aspirin may cause ringing of the ears (tinnitus).

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Always consult your physician.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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