When most people think about skin protection the immediately think of topical creams, lotions, and other supplements. The truth is that over the last few decades researchers have found that internal factors are just as important for skin protection and rejuvenation.
Did you know?
Despite the general awareness of the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun…
One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 52 minutes). ¹
An estimated 10,130 people will die of melanoma in 2016. ¹
An estimated 76,380 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016. ¹
The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. ²
Skin Quality & Protection
In 2004, researchers from Harvard studied the protective effects of polypodium leucotomos in 9 healthy subjects with fair to light skin. The participants were exposed to varying doses of artificial UV radiation with and without the oral administration of PL (7.5 mg/kg body weight daily, about 675 mg for a 200-pound person). 24 hours after exposure, skin biopsies samples were taken from both PL-treated and untreated skin.
The results not only showed that PL-treated samples were significantly less sunburned, it also protected Langerhans cells, which are important cancer-fighting cells found in the epidermis.
The Harvard research concluded with this “Oral administration of PL is an effective systemic chemo-photoprotective agent leading to significant protection of skin against UV radiation”. ³
Another study in Spain found that PLE can be used to reduced or prevent the risk of infectious diseases in high performing athletes.
The researchers compared a group of athletes that took 240 mg twice daily (480 mg/daily) for 3 months with a control group. The athletes who took PLE showed a resilience to infectious process compared to the control group (14% vs 56%). Relapse on the PLE group was seen in only one athlete (14.2%), compared to 10 athletes (37.5%) in the control group. 4
Multiple studies have also shown the enhancement of p53 expressions (a well-known tumor suppressor gene) in skin cells following a combination of UV radiation and PL ingestion (300mg/Kg) compared to UV radiation alone.
A 1996 study found that PL stimulates collagen expression (type I, III & V) at 1% concentration as well as promote type I collagen. These effects occurred in control cells and continued during UV radiation.
The same study found that the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and photo-protective properties of PL involving its interaction with free radicals appear to have potential clinical usefulness in preventing sunburn and inhibiting the photo-toxic reaction. 5
Dermatitis, Eczema, Vitiligo and Psoriasis
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial with the aim to investigate whether daily treatment with Polypodium leucotomos extract would reduce the use of topical corticosteroids in children and adolescents with atopic dermatitis.
While the study did not find a reduction in the percentage of days on which topical corticosteroids were used (11% [12%] vs 12% [11%] for placebo), it did find a significant reduction in oral histamine use (4.5% vs 13.6% in the placebo group).6
The study concluded that Long-term treatment with Polypodium leucotomos extract has benefits for children and adolescents with atopic dermatitis who require pharmacologic treatment to reduce inflammation and relieve itching. 6
A study in 1974 first isolated a triterpenoid glycoside from the mashed and dried rhizomes and was named Calagualine in honor of the common name of Polypodium Leucotomos, Calaguala.
The extract (20 capsules with a concentration not specified) and a placebo were given to 36 patients (age 6-63) suffering from Psoriasis for as long as 24 years and as short as one month.
The results showed a significant improvement in clinical signs of Psoriasis. 7
One study found that using 0.25mg/kg of Polypodium Leukotomos (PL) hydro soluble extract (intramuscular injections) for 7 days prior to surgery, the PL was able to normalize a trauma-induced shift in T-cell morphology and attenuate changes in select cytokines (IL-6 and IL-12, but not IL-1, 2, or 4). that are seen as indicative of this shift of T-cell morphology 9
The same effects have also been noted in response to Fasciola hepatica antigen, which triggers a similar Th2 immune response.10
In 2007 a study investigated if PLE improves NB-UVB-induced re-pigmentation in Vitiligo patients.
50 patients suffering from Vitiligo randomly received 250mg of PLE or a placebo three times daily, combined with NB-UVB twice a week for 25-26 weeks.
As a result, re-pigmentation was higher in the PLE group than the placebo in the head and neck area (44% vs 27%) for the trunk it was 6%, hand, and feet 5% and extremities 4%. Patients attending more than 80% of NB-UVB sessions, showed increased re-pigmentation in the head and neck areas (50% vs 19% of the placebo group). 7
Parkin DM, Mesher D, Sasieni P. 13. Cancers attributable to solar (ultraviolet) radiation exposure in the UK in 2010. British Journal of Cancer. 2011;105(Suppl 2):S66-S69. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.486. [PMC]
Middelkamp-Hup M, Pathak MA, Parrado C, et.al. Oral Polypodium leucotomos extract decreases ultraviolet-induced damage of human skin. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Dec;51(6):910-8. [PubMed]
Solivellas BM, Martín TC Polypodium leucotomos Extract use to prevent and reduce the risk of infectious diseases in high performance athletes . Infect Drug Resist. (2012) [PubMed]
Rodríguez-Yanes E, et al Polypodium leucotomos decreases UV-induced epidermal cell proliferation and enhances p53 expression and plasma antioxidant capacity in hairless mice . Exp Dermatol. (2012) [PubMed]
Zattra E, Coleman C, Arad S, et al. Polypodium leucotomos Extract Decreases UV-Induced Cox-2 Expression and Inflammation, Enhances DNA Repair, and Decreases Mutagenesis in Hairless Mice. The American Journal of Pathology. 2009;175(5):1952-1961. doi:10.2353/ajpath.2009.090351. [PMC]
Ramírez-Bosca A1, Zapater P, Betlloch I, Albero F, Martínez A, Díaz-Alperi J, Horga JFActas Dermosifiliogr. 2012 Sep;103(7):599-607. Epub 2012 May 3. Polypodium leucotomos extract in atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. [PubMed]
Padilla, H. C., Héctor, L. N. and Pacheco, J. A. (1974), A NEW AGENT [HYDROPHILIC FRACTION OF POLYPODIUM LEUCOTOMOS] FOR MANAGEMENT OF PSORIASIS. International Journal of Dermatology, 13: 276–282. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4362.1974.tb05081.x [PubMed]
Middelkamp-Hup MA, et al Treatment of vitiligo vulgaris with narrow-band UVB and oral Polypodium leucotomos extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study . J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. (2007) [PubMed]
Navarro-Zorraquino M, et al Pharmacological immunomodulation of surgical trauma . J Invest Surg. (2007) [PubMed]
López-Abán J, et al Immunomodulation of the response to excretory/secretory antigens of Fasciola hepatica by Anapsos in Balb/C mice and rat alveolar macrophages . J Parasitol. (2007). [PubMed]
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