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The Role and Efficacy of Anhydrous Citric Acid in Human Medicine
Anhydrous Citric Acid


Anhydrous citric acid is a naturally occurring compound found in various fruits, particularly citrus fruits. It has been widely used in the food and beverage industry as an acidulant and flavor enhancer. However, anhydrous citric acid also has potential applications in human medicine beyond its culinary uses. This article aims to provide a comprehensive review of the role and efficacy of anhydrous citric acid in human medicine, exploring its mechanisms of action, clinical applications, potential benefits, and safety considerations.

Mechanisms of Action

  1. Acidifying Properties: Anhydrous citric acid acts as an acidifier due to its low pH. In medicine, it can be utilized to adjust the acidity of certain formulations, enhancing their efficacy or stability.

  2. Chelating Agent: Anhydrous citric acid possesses chelating properties, meaning it can bind to and form complexes with metal ions. This characteristic is relevant in the formulation of certain medications or intravenous solutions to prevent the precipitation of metal salts.

Clinical Applications

  1. Kidney Stone Prevention: Anhydrous citric acid has been utilized as a preventive measure for certain types of kidney stones, such as calcium oxalate stones. It achieves this by increasing urinary citrate levels, which inhibits the formation of kidney stones. Supplementation with anhydrous citric acid can help promote urinary citrate excretion and reduce the risk of stone formation.

  2. Alkalinization of Urine: Anhydrous citric acid can be used to increase the pH of urine. This property is beneficial in the management of certain urinary tract conditions, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) caused by bacteria that thrive in an acidic environment. By alkalinizing the urine, anhydrous citric acid helps create an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth and can assist in the treatment of UTIs.

  3. Iron Chelation Therapy: Anhydrous citric acid's chelating properties make it useful in iron chelation therapy, a treatment employed in conditions of iron overload, such as hereditary hemochromatosis or transfusion-dependent thalassemia. By binding to excess iron, anhydrous citric acid helps facilitate its removal from the body and prevents iron-related complications.

  4. Gastrointestinal Disorders: Anhydrous citric acid may play a role in the management of certain gastrointestinal disorders. It can be utilized as an adjunctive treatment in conditions characterized by inadequate gastric acid secretion, such as achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria, to promote better digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Safety and Considerations

Anhydrous citric acid is generally recognized as safe for consumption and use in human medicine when used appropriately. However, certain considerations should be kept in mind:

  1. Allergic Reactions: While rare, allergic reactions to anhydrous citric acid have been reported. Individuals with a known hypersensitivity to citric acid should avoid its use.

  2. Renal Impairment: Patients with severe renal impairment or a history of kidney stones should exercise caution when using anhydrous citric acid. Close monitoring and appropriate dosage adjustments may be necessary to prevent any adverse effects.

  3. Drug Interactions: Anhydrous citric acid's chelating properties may interfere with the absorption or efficacy of certain medications, particularly those that rely on metal ions for their actions. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to assess potential interactions and adjust medication regimens accordingly.

  4. Dental Health: Citric acid, in high concentrations or frequent exposure, can erode tooth enamel. Proper oral hygiene practices, including rinsing the mouth after consuming acidic substances, are essential to maintain dental health.


Anhydrous citric acid, beyond its culinary applications, has demonstrated potential in various aspects of human medicine. From kidney stone prevention to urinary alkalinization, iron chelation therapy, and gastrointestinal disorders, anhydrous citric acid showcases diverse clinical applications. Its acidifying and chelating properties contribute to its efficacy in these areas. However, careful consideration of safety, potential allergies, renal impairment, drug interactions, and dental health is crucial. Consulting with healthcare professionals is essential for appropriate usage and monitoring. As further research unfolds, anhydrous citric acid may continue to find innovative applications in the realm of human medicine.

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