What is fumaric acid? Why do we need it?
Much like vitamin D, fumaric acid is formed by the body, in the skin, during exposure to sunlight. It is related to malic acid, and is involved in the production of energy derived from food.
The exact uses of fumaric acid remain unclear. However, evidence suggests the people with psoriasis may have a biochemical disorder that interferes with the body's ability to produce adequate amounts of fumaric acid. As a result, some health care providers recommend fumaric acid to help treat psoriasis and other skin conditions.
How much fumaric acid should I take?
The amount of fumaric acid to be consumed depends on the individual being treated. Generally, patients should consult with a dermatologist before using fumaric acid to determine proper dosage. Most practitioners recommend that patients take small amounts of a fumaric acid supplement (60-100 milligrams per day, orally or topically), with the dosage increasing gradually over several weeks until an effect is seen. Only esterified forms of fumaric should be used.
What forms of fumaric acid are available?
Fumaric acid is produced naturally by the body. In addition, fumaric acid is available as a dietary supplement (to be consumed orally) and as a preparation (to be applied topically). Only esterified forms of fumaric should be used, and only after consulting with a dermatologist.
What can happen if I take too much fumaric acid? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Taking large amounts of fumaric acid over a short period of time may result in kidney disorders. Other side effects associated with fumaric acid intake are gastrointestinal distress, irritation of the eyes and flushing of the skin; some small studies have shown that prolonged use of fumaric acid may lower a person's white blood count, possibly making them more susceptible to infection.
As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions associated with fumaric acid. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking fumaric acid or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.
- Altmeyer P, Hartwig, R, Matthes U. Efficacy and safety profile of fumaric acid esters in oral long-term therapy with severe treatment refractory of psoriasis vulgaris. A study of 83 patients. Hautarzt 1996;47:190-6.
- Altmeyer PJ, Matthes U, Pawlak F, et al. Antipsoriatic effect of fumaric acid derivatives. J Am Acad Dermatol 1994;30:977-81.
- Dalhoff K, Faerber P, Arnholdt H, et al. Acute kidney failure during psoriasis therapy with fumaric acid derivatives. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 1990;115:1014-7.
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- Mrowietz U, Christophers E, Altmeyer P. Treatment of psoriasis with fumaric acid esters: results of a prospective multicentre study. German multicentre study. Br J Dermatol 1998;138:456-60.