Glissandrin: A superior antioxidant

In the October 2011 issue of InStyle, we learned what skin experts are prescribing to combat a number of common ailments. The first in the series shares tips on protecting skin from the elements. And while Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann recommends using antioxidants, there’s more to the story than what’s known by even the savviest experts and consumers.

Most antioxidants are free radical scavengers, but some are so large that they cannot penetrate skin cells. This presents a problem since the source of the issue lies within the cell walls.

Fortunately, some antioxidants are not only able to penetrate skin cells but also to up-regulate the antioxidant defense systems inherent in our body. In simpler terms, that means they actually enhance the body’s natural ability to combat free radicals.

Our skin is equipped with antioxidant defense systems to fight free radicals caused by harmful stimuli. One such stimulus is solar light radiation. Long-term exposure or over-exposure to the sun can overwhelm these antioxidant systems, resulting in damage to the skin cells and the depletion of essential components such as collagen and elastin.

The consequence is photoaging, chronic alterations in the skin’s structure that become visible on the surface. Many of us are all too familiar with the signs of photoaging, which include wrinkles, brown spots, inelasticity, coarse skin texture, and uneven pigmentation.

Glissandrin™, with Schisandrin B as its key compound, has been proven to enhance the antioxidant defense systems naturally found in our skin. This is in addition to its ability to scavenge free radicals. Readily absorbed by the skin, Glissandrin is a superior antioxidant.

Glissandrin is a natural ingredient derived from Schisandra berry. Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, led by Dr. Robert Ko, recently published a paper in the respected medical journal, Fitoterapia (2011), on the protective properties of Schisandrin B in preventing and restoring skin damage from solar radiation.

To learn more, please visit http://glissandra.com.

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What have scientists found to fight the leading cause of skin aging – mitochondrial decay?

Introduction

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on the quest by scientists to find effective ways to fight skin aging. In our previous article, entitled “What causes skin aging: Making sense of the latest research findings”, we discussed how oxidative damage is regarded in the scientific community as the primary cause of aging, and how mitochondria play a significant role in this by being a major source of free radicals.

Now, scientists have made a breakthrough in fighting the leading cause of skin aging: Schisandrins have been proven to effectively reverse mitochondrial decay.

A recap of our previous discussion

Mitochondrial decay in aging refers to a progressive disruption to mitochondrial structural integrity and functional ability over time. Consequently, cells experience impaired energy production, a decline in normal function, and accelerated free radical generation. This is the phenomenon of cellular aging, which makes the cell more prone to apoptosis, or programmed cell death – much like cell suicide.

Figure 1: Structure of a mitochondrion

Skin aging – the signs of which are commonly manifested in wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, loss of suppleness, and deterioration of skin tone – has been proven to involve mitochondrial dysfunction.

The mitochondria–free radical connection

Research has shown that mitochondria are a major source of free radicals. Deteriorating mitochondria instigate a vicious cycle of exacerbated oxidative stress. Consistent with these findings is the concept that “manipulating the signaling pathways that regulate cellular antioxidant defense” and “controlling the intracellular levels of free radicals” is preferred over “altering individual antioxidant components by extrinsic supplementation”.

In simpler terms, this means that it may be more effective to combat aging by treating the source of free radical production rather than by “cleaning up” free radicals after they are generated. This theory is supported by recent studies that have found that scavenging free radicals through the supplementation of certain antioxidants could be ineffective or even harmful in the long run.[i] [ii]

The role of Schisandrin B in skin-related mitochondrial decay

There has been a substantial amount of research on remedies to combat mitochondrial decay as an effective means of mitigating the aging process. Particularly noteworthy is the research conducted by Dr. Bruce Ames (UC Berkeley) and Dr. Tory Hagen (Oregon State University), who investigated the effects of acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid on improving the functional capability of mitochondria.

Over the past few decades, the pharmacological activities of Schisandrin B, an active ingredient isolated from Fructus Schisandrae (commonly known as the Schisandra berry), have been studied extensively. Research conducted at RK-Lab at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have demonstrated the protective effect of Schisandrin B on free radical-induced damage in various vital organs, including the heart, liver, kidney, and brain.

Figure 2: Fresh Schisandra berries

Research has shown that Schisandrin B is able to simultaneously:

  1. enhance mitochondrial functional ability, and
  2. increase natural mitochondrial antioxidant capacity.

These are clear indications that this natural compound is effective in mitigating further mitochondrial decay, successfully defeating this leading cause of skin aging.

In addition, Schisandrin B has been proven to be able to induce the expression of heat shock proteins, endogenous protein molecules essential in cellular protection against various stressful stimuli. The expression of heat shock proteins is believed by many in the scientific community to be another crucial biochemical mechanism for fighting aging.

The latest research

Recent research has found a stereoisomer of Schisandrin B, (−)Schisandrin B, to be even more potent in enhancing mitochondrial functional ability and in boosting the innate antioxidant capacity of mitochondria.

Figure 3: Comparison of a cell treated with (−)Schisandrin B vs. a cell with no treatment

(−)Schisandrin B protects cells against oxidative stress, thereby preventing disease and enabling a healthier and longer lifespan.  Without (−)Schisandrin B, cells are vulnerable to oxidative stress. This results in the loss of structural and functional integrity and cyto c release, and ultimately leads to cell death.

Implications for anti-aging skincare

The pharmacological properties of Schisandrin B and (−)Schisandrin B have significant implications for anti-aging skincare, since skin is the largest organ of the human body, and oxidative damage has been recognized as one of the major factors that contribute to skin aging. Wrinkles, fine line, age spots, sagginess, loss of radiance, and many other signs of skin aging are all attributed to oxidative damage.

Studies at RK-Lab at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology[iii] have validated the beneficial effects of Schisandrin B and (−)Schisandrin B on skin cells and skin tissues. Furthermore, topical formulations using Schisandrin B and (−)Schisandrin B have been clinically tested on human subjects with remarkable anti-aging results.

Schisandrin B and (−)Schisandrin B are the key compounds in Glissandrin™, an active ingredient in anti-aging skincare consisting of natural compounds extracted from the Schisandra berry. This active ingredient has been incorporated into the most advanced anti-aging skincare products, now available from Glissandra™ Skincare Inc.

As the first active ingredient to holistically:

  1. address mitochondrial decay,
  2. increase natural cellular antioxidant capability, and
  3. target other causes of aging,

Glissandrin™ is a breakthrough in the anti-aging skincare industry.

To be continued…

In the next article, the powerful anti-aging properties of Glissandrin™ will be explored in further detail.

For more information

More information on Schisandrin B, (−)Schisandrin B, mitochondrial decay, and theories of aging can be found at these independent websites:


[i] Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention – Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Bjelakovic et al; Journal of the American Medical Association 2007; 297(8):842-857 (doi:10.1001/jama.297.8.842).

[ii] Vitamins in Aging, Health, and Longevity, David R Thomas; The Division of Geriatric Medicine, Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, Saint Louis, MO, USA.

[iii] The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was ranked 35th among research universities worldwide by Times Higher Education in 2009.

What causes skin aging: Making sense of the latest research findings

Introduction

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on the quest by scientists to find effective ways to fight skin aging. By understanding the leading cause of aging, mitochondrial decay, we can develop comprehensive solutions for long-term skin health.

Theories of aging

Aging is a consequence of changes that are harmful, progressive, and thus far irreversible in most living organisms, including humans. Age-associated damage occurs to biomolecules, cells, and organs. Diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, heart diseases, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease occur more frequently with old age.

The biochemical mechanism of aging has long been an area of intensive research, and a number of theories of aging have been proposed, including the neuro-endocrine theory, which links aging to hormonal changes; immunological theory, which attributes aging to immune system dysfunction; telomerase theory, which relates to the shortening of chromosomes during cell division; and oxidative stress theory, which refers to free radical damage to cells.

Among these theories, it is reasonable to distinguish those that attempt to establish primary causes of aging from those that are secondary. For example, the telomerase theory may be secondary since the decrease in telomerase activity can be caused by the increase in cellular oxidative stress.

In gerontology, the study of aging, oxidative stress is increasingly recognized as the primary cause of aging.

The role of mitochondrial decay in aging

If oxidative stress is indeed the primary factor in skin aging, it is important to understand its roots. Scientists now believe that oxidative stress may be caused by mitochondrial decay. Mitochondria, the chief producers of both energy and oxidants inside the cell, play a critical role in the process of aging.

As energy producers, mitochondria convert unusable forms of energy into a usable chemical form known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is required for all vital cellular chemical reactions throughout the body. During the metabolic cycle of ATP production, oxidants are released from the mitochondria as harmful by-products that can damage important biomolecules, such as DNA, lipids, and proteins. At the same time, the mitochondria themselves are also victims of this metabolic cycle of ATP production as they are highly susceptible to damage by the oxidants thus released.

Over time, largely due to cumulated damage by the oxidants, the functional capabilities of mitochondria deteriorate; the production of ATP declines; and the release of oxidants increases. The latter inflicts greater damage to the mitochondria, which in turn results in accelerated oxidant production. This is the vicious cycle of mitochondrial decay. If left unchecked, mitochondrial decay leads to cumulative damage in cellular biomolecules, resulting in a host of age-related diseases.

Effects of mitochondrial decay on the skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ. The consequence of cumulative damage in skin cell biomolecules is a corresponding increase in the depletion of important extracellular components, such as collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, among others. The loss of these significant components is manifested in the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, droopiness, pigmentation, puffiness, skin inelasticity, enlarged pores, dryness, and a dull skin tone.

Conclusion

An increasing amount of scientific evidence confirms that mitochondrial decay is the fundamental cause of aging; therefore, scientists are endeavoring to find remedies to reverse the declining functional capabilities of mitochondria due to aging. In Parts 2 and 3 of this series, we will explore what scientists have accomplished in this direction.

More information on mitochondrial decay and theories of aging can be found at these independent websites:

Nature’s contribution to advanced skincare: the Schisandra berry

By now, you’ve likely heard the growing buzz about the Schisandra berry, which is finally beginning to get the widespread attention it deserves, outside the scientific community. It is not just the next disposable “superberry”; Schisandra has been proven to have a significant, positive effect on aging skin.

The Schisandra berry has long been recognized as one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese medicine, and as the key to maintaining youth and radiance. It is now regarded as a vital adaptogen that helps the body achieve a balanced state and adapt to physical, mental, environmental and other stresses.

The Schisandra berry has exciting qualities and applications relating to its status as an adaptogen. It helps the body’s cells maintain and normalize the optimum conditions for their vital functioning. The Schisandra berry is naturally rich in antioxidants, and research suggests that it acts as an antioxidant-site stimulator. In this role, it has been seen to increase antioxidant activity throughout the body, helping fight free radical damage not only by providing its own antioxidants, but also by helping to stimulate antioxidants already present in the body – unlike other, supposed “superberries”.

So how does this affect our skin as we age?

Aging is a phenomenon that occurs in the body’s cells. Its effects are more apparent on the skin, body’s largest organ, and especially noticeable on the face. Aging brings about the depletion of cellular components (such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, etc.), oxidative damage, and inflammation – causing a loss of elasticity, pigmentation, radiance, and other visible signs of aging.

According to extensive research, Schisandra has been found to be “a safe and effective ingredient for the prevention and treatment of hyperproliferative and inflammatory skin conditions and offers a new concept for personal care cosmetics” (Quirin et al.).

However, concentrations of the key compounds, (-) Schisandrin B and Schisandrin A, in the original berries are minute. Ground Schisandra berries, berry juice, or Schisandra extracts collected by ordinary methods contain insignificant amounts of the potent compounds, thereby limiting the benefits to the skin. It is only through a proprietary extraction process that the anti-aging properties of the Schisandra berry can be absorbed by the skin.

Consumer Reports rates anti-wrinkle serums

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports released the findings of their recent anti-wrinkle serum tests. The verdict: that the products they evaluated fell short on their claims. Citing inconsistent results and only minor improvements to the wrinkles of their research subjects, the organization all but dismissed anti-aging products entirely. If readers caught only the headlines, they’d find themselves considerably misinformed about the efficacy of certain products available on the market today.

It’s difficult to argue with some of the points brought up in the report, which suggests that consumers focus on moisturizing and sun protection. However, Consumer Reports neglects to investigate the reason why the serums they tested failed: the products don’t necessarily address anti-aging holistically. It is a stretch to imply that anti-wrinkle serums don’t work; after all, Consumer Reports tested only nine well-known brands, none of which take a comprehensive approach by targeting all accepted causes of skin aging.

Scientific research in the area of gerontology has found that a number of factors contribute to skin aging, including inflammation, external adverse environmental factors, and the depletion of cellular components, such as collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Oxidative (free radical-induced) damage is often cited as a culprit, and products are loaded with antioxidants accordingly, despite their limited ability to produce results.

Scientists have now discovered the fundamental cause of skin aging: mitochondrial decay. For that reason, an effective anti-aging serum must include ingredients to address all causes of skin aging, but particularly mitochondrial decay. Fortunately for consumers, potent extracts from the schisandra berry have been proven to be effective in reversing age-related mitochondrial deterioration – so a real anti-wrinkle serum, one that lives up to its promises, does indeed exist.