Study supports health, skin benefits of plant extracts

London — Some centuries-old organic remedies — specifically white tea, witch hazel and rose — have scientifically supportable qualities that are beneficial to health and skin appearance, according to a collaborative study by researchers at London’s Kingston University and British skincare brand Neal’s Yard Remedies.

In a Kingston University press statement, study author Declan Naughton, professor of biomolecular science, said, “For thousands of years people used natural remedies to try — and sometimes succeed — in curing their ailments and preserving their youth. Now the latest research we have carried out suggests a number of naturally occurring substances may offer the hope of new treatments to block the progression of inflammation.” The statement notes that inflammation plays a major role in the development of serious diseases and in premature aging.

According to the study abstract, the researchers’ objective was to assess the efficacies of three plant extracts — white tea, witch hazel and rose — for their potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in primary human skin fibroblasts. Three different concentrations of white tea (freeze-dried powder), witch hazel (dried herb) and rose extract (in medicinal tincture form) were subjected to assays to measure anti-collagenase, anti-elastase, trolox equivalent and catalase activities. Skin fibroblast cells were employed to determine the effect of each extract formulation on interleukin 8 (IL-8) release induced by the addition of hydrogen peroxide. Microscopic examination and Neutral Red viability testing were used to ascertain the effects of hydrogen peroxide directly on cell viability.

Investigators found substantial anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and antioxidant activities were measured for all extracts except the witch hazel distillate, which showed no activity in the collagenase assay or in the trolox equivalence assay. None of the test samples exhibited catalase activity or had a significant effect on the spontaneous secretion of IL-8 in the control cells.

The authors wrote, “These data show that the extracts and products tested have a protective effect on fibroblast cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced damage. This approach provides a potential method to evaluate the claims made for plant extracts and the products in which these extracts are found.”

The study was published in the Journal of Inflammation.

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