Humic and fulvic acids are polymers, or compounds composed of several molecules, which are found in soil and aqueous environments. Often categorized under the generic term humic acids, both humic and fulvic acids are used in gardening and landscaping to improve soil conditions and plant growth. Humic acids are also currently being studied for potential health benefits, as they may help to fight certain viruses such as influenza and HIV.
Humic Acids in the Garden
Microorganisms decompose plant residues to form humus and humic acids. The latter include both humic and fulvic acid. You can find humus in soils, composts, peat bogs and water basins. Typically dark brown in color, humus is beneficial for soil. It breaks up clay and compacted soils, enhances water penetration and opens more room for plant roots to grow and develop.
Humic Acids and Viruses
Humic acids may give your immune system a type of virus defense assistance. A virus is equipped with either RNA or DNA, which it uses to replicate itself inside a cell. Once a virus makes copies of itself, the copies can burst out, kill your cell and infect other cells. Humic acids may render HIV and the influenza virus more susceptible to elimination. A study published in the February 2002 issue of "Archives of Virology" found that humic acids inhibited influenza virus RNA activity, thereby preventing the virus from replicating. Humic acids may also work to block HIV entry into cells, according to the April 15, 1996 issue of "Virology."
Humic Acids and Leukemia
Humic acids may possibly inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells, including leukemia cells. According to a study published in the October 2007 issue of "The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science," humus extract exhibited antitumor effects on a strain of leukemia cells in mice. The extract did not kill the cells or induce apoptosis -- the cells' "self destruct" mechanism. Rather, humus extract delayed tumor formation and contributed to smaller overall tumor cell mass.
Fulvic acid may help to prevent certain types of heavy metal toxicity. A study published in the June 2010 issue of "Biological Trace Element Research" tested fulvic acid's ability to prevent or minimize copper toxicity in pig cells. The results showed that cells treated with fulvic acid were less likely to allow copper to bind to the cell's surface when compared with cells not treated with fulvic acid.
Although humic acids are mentioned in several studies touting their potential medical benefits, supporting clinical studies in humans are lacking. Therefore, use caution and talk with your doctor first if you are contemplating using humic or fulvic acids as a dietary supplement. These compounds have not been proven to cure or treat any disease.
- Natural Environmental Systems: What is Humus or Humic Acid?
- Archives of Virology: In Vitro Anti-Influenza Virus Activity of Synthetic Humate Analogues Derived From Protocatechuic Acid
- Virology: Inhibition of HIV-1 in Cell Culture by Synthetic Humate Analogues Derived From Hydroquinone - Mechanism of Inhibition
- The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science: Antitumor Effect of Humus Extract on Murine Transplantable L1210 Leukemia
- Biological Trace Element Research: The Effects of Fulvic Acid on Copper Bioavailability to Porcine Oviductal Epithelial Cells
- Chris Clinton/Lifesize/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.