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First Love: Rediscovering Anti-Aging Plants for Cosmeceuticals

By Jeanette Jacknin Comments

More natural plant sources are being rediscovered and studied for their anti-aging cosmeceutical potential. The question is which ones have science and clinical results behind them? Among those that reduce the appearance of aging are Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng, peony and quercetin.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species and its leaves are among the most extensively studied botanicals in use today. In Europe and the United States, ginkgo supplements are among the best-selling herbal medications. It consistently ranks as a top medicine prescribed in France and Germany.1

Ginkgo has been used in traditional medicine to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory. Because Gingko biloba helps to increase circulation, prevent capillary fragility and boost collagen formation, it is ideal to use in rejuvenating skin-care products. Gingko is a vasodilator, increases circulation, improves sebaceous secretions, decreases capillary hyper-permeability, improves tissue irrigation and activates cell metabolism in the skin. It also increases the creation of fibroblast, collagen and extracellular fibronectin, all required if looking to achieve a smooth and healthy young-looking complexion. In addition, ginkgo exhibits good antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic properties.2

There have been at least eight studies documenting the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and photoprotective properties of ginkgo and eight skin care lines already incorporate ginkgo into their anti-aging topical formulations.

Peony root (Paeonia lactiflora) has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years for its tranquilizing effect on the nerves, pain-relieving effect on muscles and purifying effect on the blood. The peony is an extremely hardy and ornamental flower that is native to southern China, where dainty peony flowers line the hillsides. Peonies also grow wild in southern Europe and are cultivated for their beauty in gardens everywhere.  After the reddish root bark is stripped away, the silvery-white marrow is boiled and dried for use in herbal medicine, and has been for thousands of years.3

Peony Root is believed to possess antibacterial, antifungal and antiallergenic properties.  Therefore, when it is used topically, it is useful for acne, boils and other skin problems in addition to helping skin look smoother, younger and healthier.

Paeonol (2'-hydroxy-4'-methoxyacetophenone), the main active compound of white peony root, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cardiovascular protective activities.4 Many people use peony root to achieve healthier and younger looking skin. Generations of Chinese women have passed peony herbal secrets from mother to daughter, creating a time-honored legacy of health and beauty. The Taiwanese women regularly eat white peony root and its petals, which are thought to be responsible for their smooth beautiful skin.

Partially purified paeoniflorin (PF), a new cosmetic ingredient has been developed. Its paeoniflorin content is about 64 percent, far higher than the conventional cosmetic-grade peony root extracts of approximately 10 percent.

In 2006, Lee studied the effects of PF, one of the main components of Peony, on UV-induced DNA damage in both cultured human keratinocytes and hairless mouse skin. He also investigated the anti-wrinkle effects of PF-containing cosmetic preparations on human skin. From the in vitro and in vivo tests, PF protected cells from DNA damage induced by UVB irradiation in both cultured normal human keratinocytes (19-percent decrease) and hairless mouse skin keratinocytes (41-percent decrease ). An eight-week clinical trial using 0.5 percent PF-containing formulation with 20 volunteers resulted in a statistically significant reduction in facial wrinkles.5

In October of 2009, a randomized, controlled clinical trial reviewed the effectiveness of botanical extracts in reducing wrinkling and aging of the skin. Eleven trials met all the inclusion criteria on botanical extracts that reduced the appearance of aging, and a significant reduction in skin wrinkling was noted for peony extract.6 Currently, at least seven skin-care lines have discovered the anti-aging properties of peony.

To hear more about the history and scientific evidence behind the topical use of other plant-based ingredienst, such as Panax ginseng and quercetin, to help diminish the appearance of wrinkles, visit Jeanette Jacknin at SupplySide West in Las Vegas on Oct. 13, 2011 at 2 p.m. She'll be discussing the science behind using licorice, breadfruit, kojic acid, arbutin and Mitracarpus scaber extract for skin lightening and their application for new skin care solutions, and more.  

Jeanette Jacknin, M.D., ( and is a board-certified dermatologist. She is a well-respected physician, entrepreneur and author with a passion for nutricosmeceuticals and holistic dermatology. Dr. Jacknin’s is the author of, “Smart Medicine for Your Skin", published by Penguin Putnam. She is available for consultation. Contact her at [email protected]

References available on the next page.

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