Aging Skin and Ellagic AcidApril 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.
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:
- The scientists first tested the effects of EA on human skin cells that were exposed to ultraviolet damage (a “sunburn” model).
- 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.
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!
Tags: Berries, Pomegranate, Skin Care
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements