Aging Skin and Ellagic Acid

April 23, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

The foods we eat contain a multitude of chemicals that we’re often not aware of. Some of these substances tend to promote health while others are associated with an increased risk of disease. Ellagic acid is an example of a regularly consumed phytochemical (plant chemical) that may very well contribute to the betterment of our health.

The question many people have is, “How do we really know if something is healthy for us?”. In the case of ellagic acid the answer is found in the condition of the skin. But this is a unique substance, in that it helps whether you consume it in a food/supplement form or apply it directly to the skin.

Excessive UV Radiation Promotes Skin Aging

Berry Powerful Wrinkle Fighter

Ellagic acid (EA) is a type of antioxidant referred to as a “polyphenol”. The most plentiful food sources of EA are blackberries, cranberries, pecans, pomegranates, purple/red grapes, raspberries, strawberries and walnuts. Some of the benefits of all of these fruits and nuts may be directly attributable to their EA content.

A brand new Korean study reported at the April 2009 Experimental Biology Meeting discusses the potential of a topical form of ellagic acid in the management of wrinkles. The study was set up in two separate parts:

  1. The scientists first tested the effects of EA on human skin cells that were exposed to ultraviolet damage (a “sunburn” model).
  2. A group of hairless mice, with skin characteristics similar to humans, were also exposed to excessive UV radiation over the course of 8 weeks. Half of the mice had EA applied to their skin daily.

The results of these experiments offer hope in the battle against premature skin aging. Here are the primary findings that were reported:

  • The human skin cells treated with EA showed signs of reduced inflammation. In particular there was a reduction in MMP (matrix metalloproteinase), a substance that contributes to the breakdown of collagen and leads to the coarsening of skin.
  • The mice who received high exposure to UV radiation developed thicker skin and wrinkles. The group of mice that had EA applied to their skin, while exposed to the same amount of UV radiation, exhibited fewer wrinkles.

Collectively, this evidence reveals that ellagic acid may combat wrinkles by protecting the collagen in skin tissue and reducing inflammation. In addition, it appears that EA also confers some protection against the harmful rays of the sun.

This adds to some promising research that was published in 2006 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. In that investigation, it was determined that ellagic acid may encourage more elasticity and suppleness in an aged skin model. The researchers of that paper suggested that EA could be used as a preventive measure against the “normal” changes that occur in aging skin.

Blackberries Contain Ellagic Acid
Ellagic Acid Occurs Naturally in Many Berries

Youthful looking skin may be one benefit of topical ellagic acid. But a more serious concern is that of skin cancer. A 1992 laboratory trial offers hope that ellagic acid’s benefits are more than just skin deep.

The study, published in the journal Basic Life Science found that ellagic acid (and other polyphenols found in similar foods) may inhibit skin tumors at various stages of their typical life cycle. This led the authors of the experiment to conclude that EA, “might be valuable in cancer therapy and/or prevention.”

There’s also some documentation about the dermatological benefits of orally administered ellagic acid. In 2006, a trial showed that an EA-rich pomegranate extract protected the skin of women exposed to slight sunburning conditions. The dosages used were 100mg, 200mg of ellagic acid a day or a placebo. During the course of the 4 week study, female volunteers using the EA all demonstrated evidence of UV protection. Similar results were also shown in an animal experiment from 2005.

Currently there are not a lot of ellagic acid creams and lotions on the market. In the future it’s likely that they’ll become more widely available. But it’s important to remember that virtually every aspect of health is impacted by diet. Incorporating foods and supplements that contain EA into a wellness routine may support the skin from the inside out.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements

2 Comments & Updates to “Aging Skin and Ellagic Acid”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Dietary supplement improves appearance, health of aging skin …

    Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology; Volume 144, March 2015

    A dietary supplement improves facial photoaging and skin sebum, hydration and tonicity modulating serum fibronectin, neutrophil elastase 2, hyaluronic acid and carbonylated proteins

    “In the present study, administration of a dietary supplement containing Pycnogenol®, low-molecular-weight HA, collagen, glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate and coenzyme Q10 significantly improved facial photoaging, as assessed 2 weeks after the end of a 4-week treatment period. This finding coupled with a significant increase in sebum, hydration and tonicity, if compared with placebo. The improvement in facial photoaging also coupled with an increase in serum fibronectin and HA and a decrease in serum carbonylated proteins and neutrophil elastase 2. Our findings suggest a systemic modulation of these parameters that may represent biomarkers of photoaging pathology and could be used to monitor progression or improvement in this condition. The results from this study are in agreement with a previous investigation where a dietary formulation (BioCell Collagen®) administered for 12 weeks improved skin dryness/scaling and global lines/wrinkles with a significant increase in hemoglobin and collagen in skin dermis at 6 weeks and hemoglobin at the end of the study [16]. In summary, our dietary compound shows a synergistic efficacy of its individual ingredients in improving facial photoaging 2 weeks after the end of a 4-week treatment period. Pycnogenol®, HA, collagen, glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate and coenzyme Q10, which all possess a rationale of efficacy in modulating the ECM, can be put together in a dietary compound that produces an improvement in skin photoaging also modulating serum HA, carbonylated proteins, fibronectin and neutrophil elastase 2 levels. The clinical meaning of these parameters and their involvement in the photoaging pathophysiology at the systemic level warrant further investigation. Future studies will also address the long-term effects of the formulation used in this investigation in patients affected by photoaging. A limitation of our study is that the ELISAs we used do not allow to discriminate among different forms of some of the analytes that have been the object of our investigation.”

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 06/26/16:

    J Cosmet Dermatol. 2016 Jun 17.

    Zeaxanthin-based dietary supplement and topical serum improve hydration and reduce wrinkle count in female subjects.

    BACKGROUND: Dietary modification, through supplementation and elimination diets, has become an area of interest to help slow skin aging, reduce symptom severity or prevent reoccurrence of certain dermatologic conditions [Clinical Dermatology vol. 31 (2013) 677-700]. Free radical components (reactive oxygen species or ROS) or lipid peroxide (LPO) is involved in the pathogenesis and progression of accelerated skin aging when prolonged oxidative stress occurs. The use of antioxidant-related therapies such as nutraceuticals is of particular interest in restoring skin homeostasis. Antioxidant carotenoid zeaxanthin is concentrated in the eye and skin tissue and believed to decrease the formation of ROS associated with UV light exposure. With zeaxanthin, phytoceramides, and botanical extracts an oral and topical test product (with zeaxanthin, algae extracts, peptides, hyaluronate) have been developed to improve the appearance and condition of skin when used as directed.

    METHODS: Subjects were divided into three groups: two tests (skin formula 1 – oral product alone (ZO-1), skin formula 2- oral product with topical product (ZO-2 + ZT)), and one placebo control. The study consisted of a washout visit, baseline (randomization), week two (2), week four (4), week six (6), week eight (8), and week twelve (12). Key parameters measured were as follows: fine lines, deep lines, total wrinkles, wrinkle severity, radiance/skin color (L, a*, b*), discolorations, and skin pigment homogeneity.

    RESULTS: Thirty-one subjects completed the twelve-week study; no adverse events were recorded during the study. Statistically significant improvements from baseline mean hydration score were observed in active groups at weeks 2, 6, and 8. A statistically significant difference was observed between mean differences from baseline scores for total wrinkle count at week 4 for the combination active groups compared to placebo. A statistically significant difference from baseline scores for fine lines count was also observed at the week 4 visit compared to placebo for both active groups. Statistically significant differences from baseline scores for average wrinkles severity were seen for week 12 visit for both active groups compared to placebo.

    CONCLUSION: We have shown that the combination of zeaxanthin-based dietary supplement plus a topical formulation produces superior hydration to that of placebo. Additionally, we have shown that the combination of oral and topical combination vs. oral alone has superior abilities to improve parameters associated with facial lines and wrinkles compared to placebo, although the dietary supplement alone proved most effective in reducing wrinkle count and severity.

    Be well!


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