Humic and Fulvic acids both help to make up a substance called humus, which is the portion of soil formed by the decomposition of plant and animal matter. Humus works to both make the soil more fertile and detoxify it from pollutants and poisons. Although humic and fulvic acids are technically different, they are similar and occur together in nature, and therefore the terms are used interchangeably for the most part.

Humus and its corresponding acids can be found in several sources, such peat bogs, which are similar to swamps but with less drainage. Leonardite is another source that is a soluble brown to black substance usually found near lignite and coal deposits in the earth. Humalite, sourced only from Alberta, Canada sub-bituminous coal beds, contains as much as 83% humic acid.

In addition to improving soil, humic and fulvic acids, we’ll call them HFAs, are taken as supplements for all kinds of health reasons, most notably detoxification.  The most widely known source of supplemental HFAs is shilajit, a remedy that’s been used for thousands of years in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. Shilajit is sourced from the Himalayas or other mountainous regions in Asia. This remedy is said to incur strength, vitality, and longevity in those who use it, and studies show that shilajit is primarily made of humus, between 60-80%. Recent research has indicated that HFAs detoxify primarily via the liver, offering strong protection against liver damage, especially when combined with the supplement Beta-glucans.

HFAs from a variety of sources can be very valuable for health and wellness, IF they’re sourced from quality deposits and properly purified. Heavy metal contamination is part of the issue with humic acids, as they inherently contain heavy metals due the nature of their formation and their physical properties. Luckily, processes have been developed to purify HFAs to achieve both far less heavy metal contamination and a higher humic/fulvic acid percentage.

To say HFAs are impressive in the area of heavy metal detoxification is a bit of an understatement. HFAs were able to decrease the absorption of cadmium in rat intestines. They also significantly reduced cadmium levels in the blood of men with years of occupational exposure to this metal. Smokers may especially benefit from this research as their cadmium burden is often higher than average. The notorious arsenic was shown to be sequestered by humic acid adsorption, which simultaneously promoted the dissolution and immobilization of this poisonous metal. Lead, one of the most dangerous metals, can be effectively removed from soil, plants, and water with HFAs. Titanium dioxide induced oxidative stress was shown to be reduced, and even iron-induced cardiotoxicity was alleviated by humic acid. HFAs were also shown to be a natural antidote for the recent industrial toxin graphene oxide, when studied in living organisms.

Here at Brilliance Tactics, brain power is a primary focus, which is why the results of the Hungarian Study are so compelling. After initially hearing about the research, I couldn’t find the study with the exception of a brief citation, which is a first, and it seems a little suspicious. Thankfully, another website,, had published a detailed summary. Mercury was the subject of this study, which many people are exposed to through fish consumption or through their mercury amalgam dental fillings.

In the study, researchers gave radioactive mercury to pigs in their feed, in combination with different levels of humic acid, and found that those given the highest dose of humic acid excreted 21% more mercury than the control subjects. Most impressive, however, was that they found less mercury in all organs examined from the pigs given humic acid, with the brains showing a whopping 87% reduction in mercury, compared to the controls.

As I mentioned earlier, quality is absolutely key with humic acid, fulvic acid, or shilajit when buying as a supplement, or as an organic garden amendment for that matter. Do your best to find out the geographical source of the material, avoiding potentially contaminated places of origin such as China. Also, ask the company about the purification methods used, and for lab results to confirm the purity of the finished product. And do be sure to start this supplement slowly, as detoxification reactions can certainly be an issue.

Source Links:

1)      Peat humic acid properties and factors influencing their variability in a temperate bog ecosystem:

2)      Leonardite layered image -

3)      Leonardite: A mined source of humic acid

4)      Coal map of the United States:

5)      Map and minerals of Alberta:

6)      Shilajit: a review

7)      Humic acid from Shilajit: A physico-chemical and spectroscopic characterization:

8)      Safety and efficacy of shilajit (mumie, moomiyo)

9)      The effect of humic acid in chronic deoxynivalenol intoxication:

10)   Prophylactic effects of humic acid-glucan combination against experimental liver injury:

11)   Humic acid and glucan: protection against liver injury induced by carbon tetrachloride:

12)   Applications of humic acids in the treatment of heavy metal contamination:

13)   Extraction and purification of humic acids from lignite wastes using alkaline treatment and membrane ultrafiltration:

14)   Fulvic and humic acids decrease the absorption of cadmium in the rat intestine:

15)   The favorable effect of humic acid based complex micro-element preparations in cadmium exposure: 

16)   Cadmium in tobacco smokers: a neglected link to lung disease?

17)   Humic acid promotes arsenopyrite bio-oxidation and arsenic immobilization:

18)   Wood vinegar enhances humic acid-based remediation material to solidify Pb(II) for metal-contaminated soil:

19)   Influence of inorganic ions and humic acid on the removal of Pb(II) and Hg(II) in water by zero-valent iron: 

20)   Enhancement Effect of Humic Acid on Removal of Lead from Soil by Electrokinetic Process

21)   Regulation mechanisms of humic acid on Pb stress in tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.):

22)   Effects of humic acid and ionic strength on TiO₂ nanoparticles sublethal toxicity to zebrafish:

23)   The Acute Effect of Humic Acid on Iron Accumulation in Rats:

24)   Humic acid acts as a natural antidote of graphene by regulating nanomaterial translocation and metabolic fluxes in vivo:

25)   Mitigation in Multiple Effects of Graphene Oxide Toxicity in Zebrafish Embryogenesis Driven by Humic Acid:

26)   Mercury amalgam dental fillings: an epidemiologic assessment:

27) (Hungarian study detailed summary)

28) (Hungarian study reference)