Chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes are on a rise in the Western world. Based on the tsunami of new cases every year, new therapeutic measures must be considered. A promising avenue might involve the attenuation of underlying inflammation through natural health products (NHPs). This is because most NHPs have a rich history in traditional medicine and might be considered safer under appropriate doses and conditions. However, the biggest impediment in NHP research is that rarely do these products come with verified health benefits or dosing schedules established through modern scientific research. Fulvic acid (FvA), one such NHP, comes from humic substances produced by microorganisms in soil. Traditional medicine and modern research claim FvA can modulate the immune system, influence the oxidative state of cells, and improve gastrointestinal function; all of which are hallmarks of diabetes. This minireview outlines the available peer-reviewed research on FvA and examines its anecdotal health claims. We show that although available research has been minimal, there is substantial evidence to pursue FvA research in preventing chronic inflammatory diseases, including diabetes.
The information gathered in this review indicate that FvA can act as an immune modulator, influence the redox state, and potentially affect gut health. FvA is shown to decrease proinflammatory markers but also activate the immune system to kill bacteria. It is shown to reduce oxidative stress and even induce apoptosis in hepatic cancer lines. FvA is shown to also influence the microbiome and possibly improve gut function. FvA appears to have a yin-yang effect when it comes to these physiological states. This trend can be seen with most drugs and NHPs; however, toxicity may manifest itself at high intake and poor administration [52, 53].
Although the supporting literature is minimal, if considered in combination, the potential for FvA to be a candidate in preventing inflammatory diseases like diabetes arises. This is promising as our current approach to these kinds of diseases is lacking. It is important to note that FvA research in some cases is conflicting, which is thought to be a result of variance in dosage, parent material, and isolation procedure. In addition, there is no consensus on the structure of FvA, a standard isolation, or parent material. Thus, it is of paramount concern to reconcile these factors and establish dosing for age groups and differing FvA. This will help make conclusive statements regarding FvA function and its influence on immune-related diseases.