Glucuronic acid is a carboxylic acid derived from the glucose, the basic form of sugar in the human body. It is formed when glucose interacts with oxygen and creates a slightly different structure, through a process known as oxidation. This acid’s main function is to combine with toxins and eliminate them from the body.
The formation of glucuronic acid takes place in the liver of all animals, including humans and other primates, and is derived from glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar, or monosaccharide. Glucuronic acid is an oxidized form of glucose, which means glucose has interacted with a molecule of oxygen and changed its structure.
The main function of these acids is to combine with other substances such as drugs, toxins, and hormones, and either carry them to other parts of the body or eliminate them. This combining, known as conjugation, makes the substances more water-soluble and easier to pass out of the body through the urine. The process also makes it easier for these substances, primarily hormones in this case, to be released in whatever location in the body they are needed. Glucuronic acids also assist in the biosynthesis of ascorbic acid in every animal but guinea pigs and primates.
Consuming alcohol and other substances that cause harm to the liver lowers the body’s ability to produce glucuronic acids. The use of prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medications can also deplete the supply of glucuronic acids. When this happens, it can contribute to toxicity in the body and lead to other long-term health problems.
Since glucuronic acid is part of the natural detoxification process in the body, it has also been looked at as a treatment for certain diseases, most notably prostate cancer. In addition to removing harmful toxins in the body it also appears to regulate testosterone levels, which can help with this type of cancer. Some have suggested that taking supplements containing these acids will help prevent prostate cancer.
Glucuronic acid is often confused with gluconic acid, another carboxylic acid derived from glucose. Gluconic acid is oxidized on a different carbon of glucose and performs different functions in the body. Both of these substances have been reported to be found in the fermented health drink called Kombucha. This has been somewhat controversial, as some have stated that Kombucha does not contain this acid so is not as helpful in detoxifying the body.