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Trehalose

Trehalose is a sugar which, on a cellular level, appears to have therapeutic mechanisms by regulating protein unfolding. Practically, its low oral absorption in its intact form paired with rapid digestion may preclude any benefits of oral intake.

Our evidence-based analysis on trehalose features 34 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Trehalose

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Trehalose is a disaccharide composed of glucose, differing from the dietary sugar known as maltose which is also comprised of two glucose molecules due to differing bonds. Trehalose is found mostly as a component of mushrooms in the diet, with limited exposure in the human diet otherwise.

It has been investigated for a variety of therapeutic purposes due to its ability to induce apoptosis (controlled cellular death) via an atypical mechanism, and in these therapeutic settings using trehalose injections it appears to be effective.

Unfortunately, not only is trehalose initially poorly absorbed from the intestines but within the intestinal wall there is an enzyme (trehalase) which can rapidly degrade trehalose into glucose. For the trehalose that bypasses this enzyme and gets absorbed, the threhalase present in the liver and the blood appears to finalize the digestion leaving little to no trehalose able to reach a cell and exert its therapeutic effects.

The only way to preserve the effects of trehalose is to avoid oral ingestion by applying the compound topically leading to the promise of trehalose in protecting cellular function being exclusive to the skin, eyes, and hair. It has already shown therapeutic promise for the treatment of dry eye symptoms when used as eye drops, with a potency greater than commercially available products.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects trehalose has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c Strong Very High See 2 studies
The benefits of trehalose containing eye drops appears to be greater than not only placebo (saline) eye drops, but also eye drops containing either hyaluronan (Hyalein) or hydroxyethylcellulose (Mytear) which are proven commercial products for dry eyes.

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Things to Note

  • Due to rapid digestion via trehalase, it is unlikely that orally ingested trehalose supplements will confer any unique benefits since trehalose would be digested to glucose

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Click here to see all 34 references.