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Succinic acid sources, health risks

Saturday, October 28, 2017 by

Succinic acid, also known as butanedioic acid, is a chemical present in nearly all animal and plant tissues. This colorless, crystalline acid was first discovered by pulverizing and distilling amber. Its name “succinic acid” is derived from the word “succinum” which is Latin for “amber”. Nowadays, succinic acid can be synthesized by hydrogenating maleic acid.

As a naturally occurring substance, succinic acid normally plays a role in normalizing metabolic processes. Apart from this, succinic acid has numerous other applications that range from regulating food acidity to acting as an excipient for pharmaceutical products to serving as the base for some biodegradable polymers.

Harmful effects that can be caused by succinic acid

Succinic acid can be taken as a supplement to improve one’s metabolism. Generally, succinic acid supplements are safe to use, though a multitude of side effects have been linked to them. These include:

  • Constipation
  • Dark or Green Stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Upset

Moreover, succinic acid has been said to increase the risk for many gastrointestinal conditions, such as:

  • Duodenal Ulcers
  • Ischemic Disease
  • Severe Renal Dysfunction
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Urolithiasis

These health problems are believed to be caused by succinic acid irritating the gastric mucosa and increasing the production of gastric juices. As such, it’s best to take succinic acid during or after a meal to minimize the chances of developing gastrointestinal issues.

Succinic acid is purportedly responsible for the so-called natural analgesic properties of amber teething necklaces. These popular alternative treatments to teething pain are said to release succinic acid that is then absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream of infants. This is not recommended as succinic acid is a skin irritant that can seriously harm the sensitive skin of young children.

In addition, succinic acid fume exposure can bring about skin, eye, mucous membrane, and respiratory tract irritation. In some cases, the fumes have been found to result in serious eye damage.

Body systems harmed by succinic acid

Since succinic acid can aggravate the stomach lining, this compound can be thought of as harmful to the digestive system. Furthermore, succinic acid is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant, and can therefore be considered harmful to the vision and respiratory system.

Where to learn more


Succinic acid is a compound that can irritate the stomach and make an individual more prone to a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea, stomach ulcers, nausea, and constipation.

As a known skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, succinic acid should be handled with care.

Succinic acid being a skin irritant means that amber teething necklaces, which contain succinic acid, should not be used on infants due to the risk of skin irritation.

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