Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Safer, more effective skin-whitening creams from ancient Chinese herbal medicine

Date:
March 30, 2011
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists have reported the discovery of the active ingredients in an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for skin whitening, changing skin color to a lighter shade. The ingredients are poised for clinical trials as a safer, more effective alternative to skin whitening creams and lotions that millions of women and some men use in Asia and elsewhere, they said.

Scientists have reported discovery of the active ingredients in an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for skin whitening, changing skin color to a lighter shade. The ingredients are poised for clinical trials as a safer, more effective alternative to skin whitening creams and lotions that millions of women and some men use in Asia and elsewhere, they said. The report was among more than 9,500 presentations the week of March 28 at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The finding, which caps an intense search for these natural skin lightening substances, could be a boon to women in Asian countries, said study leader Hui-Min Wang, Ph.D. He explained that skin whitening products are all the rage there, but too-often accompanied by itching, redness, inflammation, and other side effects.

"Toxic skin whitening creams are a growing threat to women's health, especially in Asia," Wang said. "We hope that our product will improve lives and provide a safer, more natural way to lighten skin. A cream based on these herbal ingredients could be available on store shelves in as little as a year."

Skin-whitening is big business in countries like China, Japan, Korea, and India, where many women view whiter skin as a symbol of beauty, good health, and high social status. One study estimates that half the women in Asian countries use skin lightening creams, spending the equivalent of several billion dollars annually. People also use such products to fade unsightly age spots, freckles, and scars that have collected pigment.

Dozens of skin whitening creams, lotions, and other products are on sale throughout Asia. Some products contain toxic mercury, hydroquinone, and other potentially toxic substances that can cause redness, itching, inflammation and other skin problems. Some whitening ingredients could increase the risk of skin cancer when used frequently and at high doses, Wang said, citing the need for safer, more effective alternatives.

Wang and colleagues say that they have found a promising alternative in the form of an herbal "cure-all" used in traditional Chinese medicine in the form of soup or tea. The evergreen bush, Cinnamomum subavenium, is a close relative of the trees whose inner bark is the source of cinnamon. The scientists isolated two chemicals from the plant that have the ability to block tyrosinase, an enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin, a dark pigment responsible for coloring skin, hair, and eyes. Inhibiting tyrosinase is one of the major strategies for skin-whitening, Wang said.

They tested these so-called "melanogenesis inhibitors" on the embryos of zebrafish, which are widely used as stand-ins for people and other animals in biomedical research. The embryos contain a highly visible band of black pigment. Exposure to low levels of the two chemicals reduced melanin production in the fish embryos by almost 50 percent within just four days, turning the embryos snowy white, the scientists said.

"When we saw the results, we were amazed," said Wang, who is with Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. "My first thought was, well, 'If these herbal whiteners can transform zebrafish embryos from black to white, maybe they can also lighten women's skin.'"

He estimated that the chemicals are 100 times more effective in reducing melanin pigmentation than the common skin whitening agents kojic acid and arbutin, which have been used in cosmetics for more than 30 years. The substances did not appear to be toxic when tested in low doses on both cultured human skin cells and zebrafish embryos, Wang noted.

Wang is looking forward to clinical trials of a new beauty product based on the ingredients. Just a one percent solution of the chemicals could achieve dramatic skin whitening, Wang said, adding that several cosmetic companies are working with his group. Wang and his colleagues have applied for patents in the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan.

The scientists acknowledge funding from the National Science Council of Taiwan, Ministry of Economic Affairs (Taiwan), and the Kaohsiung Medical University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Safer, more effective skin-whitening creams from ancient Chinese herbal medicine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329225156.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2011, March 30). Safer, more effective skin-whitening creams from ancient Chinese herbal medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329225156.htm
American Chemical Society. "Safer, more effective skin-whitening creams from ancient Chinese herbal medicine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329225156.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins