Quick Navigation

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.

Research analysis led by .
Reviewed by
Examine.com Team
Last Updated:

Summary of Trehalose

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

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.

Get unbiased information on what works

At Examine.com, we pride ourselves on basing all our recommendations on evidence. It’s why we don’t sell any advertising or supplements — so that you know that our analysis is unbiased.

If you’re tired of wasting time and money on supplements that don’t work, our 17 Supplement Guides will help you figure out precisely what to take — and what to skip — based on your health goals and the latest scientific evidence.

Join over 50,000 people who rely on Examine.com's unbiased and science-based analysis.


I want unbiased recommendations »

Get the latest information on 400+ supplements and their effects on 500+ health outcomes.

By becoming an Examine Plus member, you'll have access to all of the latest nutrition research. Quickly and easy look up evidence on over 400 supplements across over 500 different health goals, outcomes, conditions, and more.

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.

Get access to the latest nutrition research

By becoming an Examine Plus member, you'll have access to all of the latest nutrition research on over 300 supplements across over 500 different health goals, outcomes, conditions, and more.

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

Tired of misinformation? Get unbiased info on supplements.

At Examine.com, our incentives line up with yours — getting unbiased information. It’s why we don’t sell any advertising or supplements.

Join over 250,000 people who’ve learned about effective versus overrated supplements, supplement buying tips, and how to combine supplements for safety and efficacy.

Click here to see all 34 references.