A Maple Leaf to Prevent Wrinkles

Story at-a-glance -

  • Maple leaf extracts have been tapped by researchers as containing compounds that provide one of the most sought-after beauty benefits: wrinkle prevention
  • Previous work by the same scientists had already revealed that specific compounds in maple leaves may help protect skin from inflammation, as well as lighten dark spots such as age spots and freckles
  • The lead researcher of the study says he was inspired to explore the makeup of maple leaves after learning that Indigenous healers used them for centuries to make traditional medicines
  • Applied topically as opposed to invasive, needle-injected treatments, maple leaf extracts are also completely natural and have none of the serious side effects of the most popular — but toxic — wrinkle relief

By Dr. Mercola

Scientists have long known that botanical extracts can provide a source for numerous healing and antiaging compounds — a compelling concept in the development of new beauty products. Bark, oils and roots of trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs often provide vitamins and powerful phytonutrients. Now, maple leaf extracts are touted as offering one of the most sought-after beauty benefits: wrinkle prevention.

Many people are reluctant to divulge their actual age, which is one major reason why men and women alike fret just a little when they see the first telltale lines and creases staring back at them from the mirror. That’s why a new study has captured the imagination of the medical world, as well as many in the cosmetic industry, Medicine Net1 reports.

A recent meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) explained research on a fibrous protein called elastin, which helps form the connective tissues in your body and helps maintain elasticity, particularly in your skin. Elastin breaks down as you age, but certain compounds in maple leaves, scientists say, may help prevent the release of the enzyme elastase, which causes elastin to break down. Here’s the scientists’ rationale:

  • Elastin helps maintain your skin’s elasticity
  • Elastase breaks down elastin
  • Compounds in maple leaves may block elastase enzymes

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island were already informed on their capabilities, but they examined the somewhat obscure group of phenolic compounds known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins, or GCGs, found in red maple leaf extracts.

The experiments were based on previously determined science showing that GCGs block the activity of elastase, but they wanted to see how it worked in a test tube. According to an ACS news release:

“The scientists also conducted computational studies to examine how the GCGs interact with elastase to block its activity, and how the molecules’ structures affect that blocking ability. GCGs containing multiple galloyl groups (a type of phenolic group) were more effective than those with a single galloyl group. But these compounds can do more than interfere with elastase.”2

In layman’s lingo, what maple leaf extract may be able to do is “nip skin wrinkles in the bud,” ACS quipped. It also may help protect skin from inflammation, as well as lighten dark spots such as age spots and freckles. Study leader Navindra P. Seeram allowed that the extract is a perfect remedy for aging baby boomers searching for natural products to help them look younger. He added:

“Native Americans used leaves from red maple trees in their traditional system of medicine, so why should we ignore the leaves? … We always hear there are exotic plants in the Amazon, (the) Mediterranean or India; well, I have news for you. There is an exotic plant in North America, and it’s the maple.”3

Red Maple Leaf Extract: ‘Plant-Based Botox’

Seeram compared maple leaf extracts’ ability to tighten skin with the way Botox injections do. The latter is an injection of a particular neurotoxin in the muscles under facial wrinkles, causing the muscles to relax, which smoothes the skin surface — however without the need for needle injection, as maple leaf extract is applied topically.

And, the maple leaf extract for use in skincare products is composed entirely from natural compounds, which is a growing demand among consumers. According to SELF.com:

“Botox is a neurotoxin … (It’s) a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin.”4

Basically, Botox is a toxin secreted by the C. botulinum bacteria, according to plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Rowe. Further, New York dermatologist Howard Sobel explains that the botulinum toxin is a “successful and valuable therapeutic protein when dosage, frequency of treatment and (a) variety of treated clinical conditions are considered.”5

Botox injections are only “successful” and “valuable” when they’re done right, because even experts acknowledge that “when it’s done wrong — like, really, really wrong — it can cause botulism-like symptoms.”6 Mayo Clinic adds that the side effects from Botox injections can cause everything from muscle weakness to loss of bladder control; vision problems to breathing, speaking or swallowing difficulties.7

Needless to say, maple leaf extract would be a much safer way to go about easing away wrinkles, and it’s more than just a faddish notion that’s a here-today-and-gone-tomorrow kind of thing; research associate Hang Ma, also from the University of Rhode Island, asserts that the effects from the GCGs in maple leaves are “absolutely amazing” as they’re able to convert from plant form to bio-acids to positively improve skin cells.

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Maple Leaf Products: Natural, Chemical-Free and Plant-Based

While their research is considered preliminary until it’s published in a journal with peer approval, the scientists involved in the study plan to continue their exploration into possible uses and the formulation of a patent-pending product for maple leaf extract.

Their formulation, which contains GCGs from maple sap as well as summer and fall maple leaves, is called MaplifaTM (pronounced mape-LEAF-uh), which is licensed to botanical extracts supplier Verdure Sciences, based in Noblesville, Indiana.

The scientists hope to tap the cosmetics market initially and possibly dietary supplements later. SlashGear8 notes that Maplifa could be used in lotions and creams that can be applied anywhere on your skin, not just on your face.

According to one study, 45 percent of Maplifa, formulated into a powder to incorporate into skincare products, is made up of ginnalin A, or GA, as well as other GCGs. They showed antityrosinase activity and were found to bring about the inhibition of melanogenesis (the formation of melanin).9

Maple leaf extract may also have a positive impact on the economy of both Canada and the U.S., as nearly everywhere you turn, many of the most sought-after skin-care and cosmetic products come from India, China and the Mediterranean, but maple leaves grow only in the eastern portions of North America, Seeram says.

In addition, woodlot owners and farmers may be able to use maple leaves and not just the wood of the trees to grow their profit margins, and collecting the leaves already fallen, with no need for removing them from the branches, would be a relatively easy proposition.

At Canada’s Federation of Maple Syrup Producers of Quebec, Nathalie Langlois, director of the company’s promotion, innovation and market development, says the research is “very promising” because, “If the maple leaf extract can indeed reduce wrinkles in humans then this could represent the potential development of value added products from the maple industry.”10

What Foods Promote Healthy Skin?

Aging is inevitable. It’s the nature of things, but nature also has a way of providing parts of itself to offset some of the worst of the effects of aging if you know where to look.

That said, collagen is another factor that can influence how your skin appears. In fact, collagen, the most abundant of your body’s proteins, is also found in your connective tissues and muscles, as well as your bones, tendons, blood vessels and digestive system. It also comprises 70 percent of your skin’s protein.

A number of things in today’s world fight against you when it comes to visible aging. Some of them are hard to do anything about, such as hormonal changes, trauma, pollution and stress. Others are easier to offset, including poor gut health, nutritional deficiencies, eating processed foods and getting too much sun, especially on the delicate skin on your face.

If you’re looking for foods that can help you in your quest for better skin, especially in regard to increasing your collagen intake, bone broth is one of the best things you can do for your diet. Some of the benefits of drinking bone broth include soothing your aching bones and muscles, naturally increasing your energy levels and fighting both infection and inflammation. A list of foods to give you younger-looking skin includes:

  • Foods with high vitamin C, such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, as the vitamin C content helps the amino acids lysine and proline convert to collagen
  • Dark green veggies like beet greens, spinach and kale speed up collagen production, as well as shield you against free radicals
  • Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is jam-packed with omega-3s, so your body is supplied with extra support that builds your immunity and overall health
  • Sulfur-containing foods such as arugula, eggs, garlic and cruciferous vegetables provide lipoic acid and taurine to repair damaged collagen fibers
  • Berries, including blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, are tasty ways to help protect you against the damage done by free radicals, but they also help increase collagen production

I’ll reiterate that wild Alaskan salmon and other low-mercury fish that are high in omega-3, such as sardines, are your healthiest seafood choices, but you can also take a high-quality supplement like krill oil, which also contains a small amount of astaxanthin, which in turn acts as an internal sunscreen.

Healthy fats also help promote healthy skin, which explains one reason why wild Alaskan salmon is so good for you, as well as any food that ups your omega-3s, especially in relation to balancing omega-6 intake. Vegetables are essential for maintaining healthy skin, especially ones that are orange or red, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash.

There are many avenues you can take to get the clear, smooth skin you want, but one of the most crucial may be making sure your gut health is where it should be. For one thing, a healthy large intestine helps prevent acne, and eating lots of high-fiber foods and fermented foods while limiting your sugar intake can certainly help in that regard.