A supplement that could help fight the pain of one of the world’s most mysterious diseases is the same substance that makes a green apple taste a bit sour. It’s the same thing that can make a particular glass of wine taste tart. It is even the same thing that makes sour candy such as “Jolly Ranchers” and “SweeTarts” taste sour. Its name is malic acid.
Where it is found?
Malic acid is found in a large swath of fresh fruits and vegetables. It is richest in apples, spurring the nickname “apple acid.” Others refer to it simply as a fruit acid. Its official name is an alpha-hydroxy organic acid, but fruits and vegetables are not its only place of residence.
In fact, we have malic acid inside our bodies. Inside every cell are the mitochondria, the key to producing energy across the entire body. Malic acid can be found there. We synthesize malic acid when the body takes carbohydrates from food and turns them into energy. The way malic acid is metabolized in the body is very complex, and this is the reason that scientists are as yet unclear about how it works against fibromyalgia, one of the most mysterious and frustrating kinds of joint pain in existence.
Joint Pain in the US
As many as 15 million people in the U.S. might have fibromyalgia, but estimates range wildly between that figure and three million. The reason for such a disparity lies in the fact that it can easily go undiagnosed. It’s a complex condition that causes chronic, widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues in the joints, most often centering on the neck, shoulders, spine and hips.
The pain doesn’t go away either. It often induces chronic fatigue, a loss of energy and severe depression (it’s yet to be determined is if this is linked to the pain).
The symptoms also can include
- Irritable bladder
- Difficulty concentrating
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Extreme foot cramps
- Poor balance and unusual numbness or tingling.
The mystery lies in how it happens and how long it stays.
Some believe that, in women, it could be related to a deficient hormone in the ovaries. Others have found
strangely low levels of cortisol — another hormone — in fibromyalgia patients. Another theory says that it’s caused by poor digestion of proteins.
Others say an injury that ends up affecting the nervous system is the culprit. Or, could it be a virus that triggers the syndrome? To make matters worse, they are often told the pain is all in their heads, because no laboratory studies ever prove the condition exists. It regularly escapes detection.
How Malic Acid can Treat Pain in Joints?
There is one thing that malic acid can do in the health world, and that is help treat fibromyalgia. The evidence is preliminary, but all evidence is like this when it is first completed and awaiting more studies. Scientists have found that the bodies of people with the disease seem to have trouble creating or using malic acid. This deficiency could then interfere with normal muscle function.
For this reason, malic acid is often found in combination treatments for fibromyalgia. There have been mixed results on its impact, but here is the most telling study. It was of good quality and looked at 24 people taking placebo or 1,200 mg of malic acid daily. (It was combined with 300 mg of magnesium — more on that later.)
After a month, there was no difference between the two groups. But then researchers gave all people malic acid and raised the dose for the next six months. Significant improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms (pain and tenderness) were reached at a dose of 1,600 mg malic acid, and 400 mg magnesium.
Doses of malic acid range from 1,200 mg to 2,800 mg a day — and they are generally combined with magnesium. Magnesium is often recommended for fibromyalgia, but the evidence is relatively scarce, as it is for malic acid.
What we do know is that should there not be enough magnesium in the body, muscles tend to remain in spasm longer and fibromyalgia will not easily resolve. The symptoms will not relent. Doses of malic acid are safe, although pregnant women, children, or those with liver or kidney disease should avoid it out of caution.