October 2018

Skin treatment

Researchers chose red maple for anti-aging skin treatment

Could an extract of red maple leaves turn back time? New research indicates a possible way to fight aging using Vermont’s staple food, but does it actually work?

Ask a lot of people and they’ll tell you that the first and last thing they do every day is put some kind of skin care product on their face.

“Twice a day I cleanse, which in the morning a few times a week, is followed by a vitamin C serum,” said Jude Stevens, describing his skin care routine.

“I actually use soap and water at night, believe it or not. But then I use Rodan and Fields, ”said Julie Edwards.

There is a multibillion dollar market for this. Countless products claim to rejuvenate your skin, but not everyone is convinced of their benefits.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: Do you think this actually works?

Jude Stevens: I think most of it is marketing stuff, quite frankly.

“I don’t buy into that at all,” Edwards said.

But a lot of people swear by them. And new research wants to exploit this money market with maple.

“Maple is exotic. It’s exotic to me,” said Navindra Seeram, professor at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island. For the past nine years, his lab has studied red maples in an attempt to turn a new leaf in the skin care industry. “It was very clear that the native people used various parts of the maple trees as sources of medicine.”

They started with syrup, then sap, then leaves and bark, eventually isolating maplifa, a leaf extract that blocks elastase. It’s the enzyme that breaks down elastin, the protein that keeps your skin firm. The goal of his laboratory is to transform this extract into a cream that could prevent wrinkles. Their research has so far only been carried out in test tubes. But in two or three years, they hope to try a test product on people.

“Nothing dramatic like ‘Boom, tomorrow I look younger’, but definitely human clinical trials that we’re looking to use over time to see what the effects are,” Seeram said.

But dermatologist Dr Melanie Bui cautions that there is still a long way to go.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: So this is early stage research, which means that people who see a headline like “Maple Could Heal Wrinkles” – what should they understand?

Dr Melanie Bui: It hasn’t been shown in any form yet. There is some evidence that it might work, but until they check on a person, they won’t know … we just don’t know if it will work at all, let alone how well it will work. . But if I had to guess, with creams they are low risk, but they are also low reward.

Here’s why: Your skin is designed to protect you from the outside, and that includes any creams you put on your face.

“A lot of them work, but not a lot. Whatever you’re going to get at the counter, your expectations really have to be managed because it’s not going to go back much. You could take three years off. You don’t. not going to take 15 years off, ”Bui said.

She says to get it you have to put yourself under the skin with Botox or fillers. She says that in most cases, with topical creams, you would need a side-by-side photo to tell the difference. “Things like the retinols you can buy – vitamin C – work. They are very safe, but you don’t get what you pay for,” Bui said.

And she says the best way to fight fine lines, wrinkles, and discolorations isn’t that expensive and is probably already on most people’s shelves. “Use sunscreen because 90% of photoaging, or what we notice as skin aging, is the effects of sun exposure,” Bui said.

Back to research on maple. This is for red maples only, not sugar maples. The researchers hope their discovery, if successful, will provide Northeastern maple syrup producers with a new way to earn money. And they say the bright side is you don’t have to cut trees. You can collect the extract from the leaves after they drop.

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