Fact Checked

This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information.

With strict editorial sourcing guidelines, we only link to academic research institutions, reputable media sites and, when research is available, medically peer-reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by our trained editorial staff. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to medically peer-reviewed studies.

Our team includes licensed nutritionists and dietitians, certified health education specialists, as well as certified strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers and corrective exercise specialists. Our team aims to be not only thorough with its research, but also objective and unbiased.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

7 Fulvic Acid Benefits & Uses: Improve Gut, Skin & Brain Health

By

Fulvic acid - Dr. Axe

Because fulvic acid is able to improve how our cells use things like antioxidants and electrolytes, it’s become popular for slowing down aging, improving digestive health and protecting brain function. In fact studies, now show that fulvic acid has antioxidant, neuro-protective, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties

What does fulvic acid do for your body exactly?

As an active chemical compound, it works in a way that helps us absorb and use other nutrients better — such as microbiota/probiotics, phytonutrients, fatty acids and minerals. Many consider it to be the ultimate “nutrient booster,” and it helps counteract free radical damage.

Below we’ll look at how we can benefit from fulvic acid when we take it as a supplement or acquire it naturally from coming into contact with more dirt/soil/organic foods.

What Is Fulvic Acid?

Fulvic acid is one component of humus. Humus is made of many organic compounds found in the Earth’s soils, rock sediments and bodies of water.

Fulvic acid is created by gradual decomposition of certain plants and animals by the action of microorganisms.

Over the past several decades, we’ve learned a lot more about how fulvic acids found in dirt can actually improve human gut health and therefore immune functions. Today people supplement with fulvic acid, as well as soil-based probiotics, to replenish what is being lost in their diets and lifestyles due to modern farming techniques.

While people used to obtain higher amounts of humic acids naturally from the soil, today they often turn to food-grade supplements to boost their nutrient intake and improve gut health.

Color, Structure and Properties:

Fulvic acid and other humic acids are yellow-brown substances found in natural materials. They contain a plethora of nutrients and active compounds that can help improve health.

These include:

  • trace minerals
  • electrolytes
  • fatty acids
  • silica (which boosts collagen synthesis)
  • prebiotics
  • probiotics

Fulvic minerals have been shown to contain multiple active functional groups, including phenolic hydroxyl, ketone carbonyl, quinone carbonyl, carboxyl and alkoxyl groups.

Its structure is made up of aromatic, organic polymers with many carboxyl groups that release hydrogen ions, resulting in an electric charge that helps attract free radicals, heavy metals and other toxins within the body. This allows it to act like a detoxification agent.

Once it becomes reactive with metals, fulvic acid helps them become more soluble in water, which means they’re carried out of the body more easily.

Fulvic acid is a yellow color and doesn’t have a very appealing taste on its own. That’s why many people choose to mix powdered fulvic acid into juice, smoothie, etc., to mask its unpleasant taste.

You can add fulvic acid to liquid or take it with supplements to help supercharge their abilities and improve bioavailability.

What is the pH of fulvic acid?

It has a very high, alkaline pH and is also super small/fine. This helps make it more bioavailable in the body.

As a soluble, strong acid, it has a pH equal to about 1.

Where It Comes From:

How is fulvic acid produced?

It’s found in nature as a product of microbial metabolism processes. That means it’s produced when organic plant matter decomposes.

This processes releases millions of beneficial bacteria.

  • Within the environment, fulvic acid is found in not only soil and rock, but also streams, lakes and ocean water.
  • Humic acids form complexes with ions that are commonly found in the environment, creating tight humic colloids binds that help with water filtering, agriculture processes and detoxification.
  • The presence of carboxylate and phenolates within humic acids gives them the ability to act like natural chelators, which means they form chemical complexes that are important for regulating bioavailability of metal ions like iron, calcium, magnesium and copper within the human body and environment.
  • Most humic acid also contains some fulvic acid, but the two are somewhat different because they have different molecular weights (sizes).
  • Fulvic acid is much smaller that humic acid and is sometimes referred to as low molecular weight humic substances. Because they are smaller, fulvic acids can easily be absorbed by plant roots, stems and leaves.

History:

For hundreds of years, an ancient remedy known as shilajitwhich contains roughly 50 percent to 60 percent fulvic acid, has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide scope of health conditions, most of which can be traced back to poor digestive/immune health.

While fulvic acid is yellow, shilajit is a blackish-brown powder or fluid. It is commonly sourced from the Himalayas and taken in supplement form with water.

Historically, fulvic acid/shilajit has been used as a rash remedy to help treat poison ivy, poison oak, viral infections, spider bites and athlete’s foot. While this benefit is based more on anecdotal evidence than clinical studies, it makes sense considering fulvic acid improves circulation and immunity while lowering pain and susceptibility to infections.

Related: 12 Bentonite Clay Benefits — for the Skin, Gut and More

Benefits and Uses

1. Improves Gut Health and Immune Function

The compounds found in fulvic acid help nourish the digestive tract and also boost the ability of “good bacteria” to repopulate and form a healthy “microbiome” environment. We need a strong digestive system to build immunity, help control hormone production, regulate appetite, reduce stress response and much more.

As a result of gut permeability (when particles are able to escape through the gut lining and enter the bloodstream, where they shouldn’t normally be), inflammation is triggered and autoimmune reactions can occur.

There is some evidence that consuming fulvic acid can help decrease digestive disorders and other issues, including:

  • SIBO symptoms (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
  • inflammatory bowel disorders
  • bacterial infections (respiratory, urinary tract, etc.)
  • the flu and common colds

2. Helps Boost Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

Acquiring enough electrolytes and other trace minerals is important for proper metabolic functions, digestive health and nutrient assimilation.

Organisms we obtain from fulvic acid can be taken in small doses and still cause fast, significant improvements in the ratio of bacteria living in the gut. This helps lower many unwanted digestive symptoms, like constipation, bloating, diarrhea and food sensitivities.

Besides providing raw nutrients, studies show that fulvic acid transports minerals and other nutrients to cells more effectively, boosts absorption rate of nutrients by making cells more permeable and fights inflammation within the digestive tract.

3. Protects Cognitive Health

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that fulvic acid has several antioxidant, nutraceutical properties with potential activity to protect against cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease.

A contributing factor to the development of cognitive disorders is free radical damage and also a type of protein called tau, but studies show that fulvic acid helps lower the length of tau fibrils and their morphology, disassembling their performance and stopping disease progression.

Researchers have recently concluded that fulvic acid seems to have neuroprotective effects and is likely to provide new insights in the development of potential natural treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Improves Detoxification

Humic acids are beneficial for digestion and improving energy because of their detoxifying abilities. As a form of natural chelation therapy, humic acids are capable of binding to and breaking down toxins and metals that enter the body through the food supply, water, prescription medications, household products and air pollution.

Studies have found that humic acids have ion-selective electrodes that can be used for attracting heavy metals — even for filtering soils and water. That’s because they help bind to things like copper and iron.

Research shows they’re even effective at geochemical processing of soils and aquatic environments at much lower concentrations than other types of chemicals.

Fulvic acid benefits and uses - Dr. Axe

5. Lowers Free Radical Damage and Inflammation

Fulvic acid contains antioxidants that counter the effects of free radicals and also help detoxify the body of many toxins that contribute to the problem: chemicals used in agriculture, radioactive waste and heavy metals, for example.

It also helps extend the permeability and life of cells by providing electrolytes that have numerous functions within the heart, muscles, brain and digestive tract.

Is there a connection between fulvic acid and cancer?

Recent studies suggest that humic substances posses pharmacological properties that can help to defend against some types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

6. Improves Energy Levels and Lowers Pain

Many people taking fulvic acid supplements have reported improvements in energy levels, probably due to increased detoxification, lower levels of inflammation and free radical damage, and higher intakes of electrolytes and other key nutrients.

According to research done by Doctors Across Borders, studies have found that as natural and organic electrolytes, humic acids activate and energize nearly every biological process in the body. An electrolyte is soluble in water and works by conducting electrical currents, helping cells survive in the face of damage caused by things like emotional stress, uncontrolled infections, unbalanced diet, prolonged loss of sleep and surgical shocks.

This also makes fulvic acid useful for lowering chronic nerve pain, headaches, joint pain caused by arthritis, or bone and muscle pains associated with aging.

There’s some evidence that fulvic acid’s electrolytes can help reduce swelling, decrease inflammation, soothe and relax muscles, and improve circulation. Conversely, an electrolyte imbalance can cause these symptoms to worsen.

Can fulvic acid aid in weight loss?

It’s possible that it may by supporting general health, but it’s not intended for this purpose.

7. Repairs and Protects the Skin

Some evidence suggests that humic acids have antimicrobial properties that fight harmful bacteria. They can help protect the skin and treat wounds or irritations caused by things like eczema, bug bites, scrapes and rashes associated with fungus/microbes.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology found that fulvic acid supplementation significantly improved symptoms associated with eczema, even compared to other other eczema treatments.

Related: Malic Acid Benefits Energy Levels, Skin Health & More

How It Works

Fulvic acid is full of many types of minerals and nutrients that people today are missing.

Research suggests that something unique about fulvic acid compared to other organisms found within soil is that it’s able to easily pass through cellular membranes. This allows it to be properly absorbed and also boosts assimilation of other nutrients or supplements.

In fact, there are benefits of fulvic acid for plants, soil fertilization and water/agriculture supplementation for the same reason it benefits humans — because it improves plants’ ability to grow, due to how it increases permeability of plant membranes that absorb nutrients from the ground.

Here are some of the reasons that fulvic acid works to improve health:

  • As a major source of key electrolytes and antioxidants, fulvic acid helps slow down aging and controls processes that lead to inflammation.
  • It’s been shown to improve various cellular processes, muscle functions, digestive abilities, and heart and brain health.
  • It works in part by helping cells absorb the amount of minerals they need and discard of waste by acting as an ion transporter.
  • It can interrupt processes that contribute to brain disorders, such as dementia.
  • It has been shown to have immune-stimulating and antioxidant effects that may help slow down progression of cancer.
  • It also stimulates the immune system to helps defend the body from things like viruses and infections.
  • It seems to help block reactions in the body that cause allergy symptoms.

Fulvic Acid vs. Folic Acid: Are They Similar?

Folic acid and fulvic acid might sound similar, but they’re actually two different substances.

Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin, which is why they are sometimes called vitamin B9. Fulvic acid, on the other hand, is not a vitamin but rather the term for organic acids derived from humus.

Fulvic acid is not a mineral itself. It’s a compound that has the ability to attract and bind with many molecules, transporting nutrients into plants.

Folate occurs naturally in folate foods (especially vegetables, whole grains and beans), while folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin that’s added to some foods and supplements. It’s estimated that about 35 percent of adults and 28 percent of all children in the U.S. use supplements containing folic acid, yet it’s been shown to act differently in certain ways compared to natural folate.

Why We Need Exposure to Soil-Based Organisms

Most adults and children today come into contact with less dirt, soil, organic crops or plants, and ocean water than past generations did. Thus, our immune systems don’t have the chance to become familiar with many different organisms and therefore don’t learn to protect us as well as they could.

In the past, our food supply was higher in naturally occurring fulvic acid and other nutrients because soils were less depleted, pesticide/herbicide chemicals were sprayed far less often, and people were less concerned about sanitizing their bodies and produce until they are squeaky clean. Modern farming techniques leave little time for fulvic acid to accumulate to soil, which can lead to an overgrowth of pathogens and a reduction in beneficial microbes in our food supply.

Unfortunately, many people today don’t have access to many organic foods and are deficient in at least several key nutrients, due to eating a highly processed diet and oversanitizing.

Because our immune system is largely made of healthy bacteria that live within the gut and thrive off of various nutrients, our overly clean, highly processed lifestyle raises the risk for many health problems associated with poor gut health. Research has shown that exposure to more natural organisms found in soil, such as fulvic acid, has benefits for:

  • digestion
  • boosting nutrient absorption
  • gut health
  • immunity
  • cognitive functioning
  • improving energy levels
  • protecting us from infections, viruses, yeasts and fungus
  • boosting skin health
  • slowing down aging
  • and more

Foods

Although this is an indirect way to get fulvic acid, you can consume some by eating organic fruits and vegetables, since it’s used to naturally replenish minerals and other nutrients within soil and commonly present in natural fertilizers for growing organic crops.

Buying organic foods increases the amount of fulvic acid from foods that you’ll ingest because oftentimes modern farming methods don’t allow for the enrichment of soil to occur. Instead, overcrowding fields and using pesticides, herbicides and fungicides inhibits natural microbial strains we need and reduces fulvic acid content.

Dosage and Supplement Facts

Fulvic acid supplements that are made for human consumption can be found in several forms, including liquid form and also as a solid, mineral substance.

There are various brands available today, but shilajit is one ancient supplement used in Ayurvedic medicine that has a lot of research supporting its benefits. It contains 85 minerals in ionic form, as well as triterpenes, humic acid and high amounts of absorbable fulvic acid.

Some experts believe that the highest-quality fulvic acid supplements come from New Mexico, as well as parts of Russia, Canada and  China. Ideally purchase a product that is GMO-free, has no added chemicals or artificial ingredients, is free of pesticides, and is certified organic .

Liquid (or “water fulvic acid) vs. solid fulvic acid supplements:

There’s some evince that fulvic acid is more bioavailable when taken in liquid form as opposed to solid or chunk form. Solid fulvic acid must be broken down by the digestive system before the nutrients can be utilized by the cells.

When taken as a liquid, it seems to enter cells more easily.

What is the difference between fulvic acid and fulvic minerals?

For the most part people use these terms interchangeably. Supplements marketed as “fulvic minerals” usually provide fulvic acid.

How to take fulvic acid supplements:

Read dosage directions carefully since using too much can alter mineral levels in a potentially dangerous way.

Most liquid products come in extract form and require using about 12 drops at a time with 16–20 ounces of filtered water. In solid form, one or two tablespoons is combined with one to two cups of water.

It’s recommended that you use fulvic acid with filtered water (not tap water). Liquid products might be sterilized to a lesser degree, which preserves beneficial heat and chemical-sensitive nutritional components, so avoid supplements that say “sterile humic acids.”

When should you take fulvic acid?

This depends on if you take medications and when you eat. It’s a good idea to take fulvic acid around the time of eating since it counteracts and detoxifies contaminants — such as pesticides, chemicals, etc., found in foods that are not organic.

You can take it a half hour before eating or two hours after eating to improve detox abilities. If using medications, take fulvic two hours after or before.

Chlorine interacts with humic acids in a negative way, so always use filtered water if possible.

Fulvic acid forms - Dr. Axe

Risks and Side Effects

Is fulvic acid safe?

Research suggests that fulvic acid is safe for most people to take, although there hasn’t been much research done in special populations, such as those with impaired immune systems or pregnant women.

It seems to be mostly safe and pose few side effects because an overdose isn’t possible, considering it’s completely natural, found in all soil and easily flushed from the system once consumed.

That said, fulvic acid side effects can still occur, but they seem to mostly affect people who take high amounts of fulvic acid in pure form. It’s best to start slowly and increase your dosage in increments to make sure you experience no side effects.

Diluting fulvic acid is also safer than taking it alone in high amounts.

If you have a disorder that results in abnormal immune functions, such as an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, you shouldn’t take fulvic acid without being monitored since it can activate the immune system and complicate your condition. Because not enough is known about how it affects hormones in pregnant women, it’s also best to stay away from using fulvic acid supplements if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (although consuming it in small amounts from dirt and produce is perfectly fine).

Some people claim that they experience fulvic acid detox symptoms when beginning supplementation, due to the detoxification effects. While this may not apply to everyone, it’s possible to experience temporary diarrhea, cramps, fatigue, headaches or nausea.

Related: Why Eating Dirt (aka, Soil‐Based Organisms) Should Be Part of Your Daily Routine

Final Thoughts

  • What is fulvic acid? It’s a group of substances found in natural materials, such as soil, coal, sediments and bodies of water.
  • It’s formed when plants and animals decompose.
  • Shilajit is an ancient remedy used in Ayurvedic medicine that is made of mostly fulvic trace minerals.
  • Why is fulvic acid good for you? Fulvic acid benefits include improving gut health and immune function, boosting digestion and nutrient absorption, protecting cognitive health, supporting detoxification, lowering free radical damage and inflammation, and helping to decrease pain and skin conditions.
  • You can supplement with fulvic acid in different forms: liquid or water fulvic acid, solid fulvic acid supplements, and by eating organic crops.
  • Fulvic acid foods are an indirect way to obtain some from the soil. Consuming organic foods is the best way to ensure you get some in your diet.
  • The side effects that are known seem to come about when people take high amounts of fulvic acid in pure form. It’s best to start slowly and increase your dosage in increments to make sure you experience no side effects.
  • Diluting fulvic acid is safer than taking it alone in high amounts.
Josh Axe

Get FREE Access!

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

Free eBook to boost
metabolism & healing

30 Gluten-Free Recipes
& detox juicing guide

Shopping Guide &
premium newsletter

More Nutrition

Ad