Scientists discovered an anti-aging potential of an invasive weed

April 25, 2023 |

Researchers from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology detected compounds from cocklebur plants that reduce the damage from UVB exposure and speeds up the wound healing on their laboratory tests on cells and tissues. The extract influences the production of collagen, the protein that gives elasticity to the skin and wards off wrinkles.  

 With this discovery, cocklebur extract is a desirable ingredient for creams and other cosmetics, and will exhibit a synergistic effect if it is mixed with other effective ingredients, including hyaluronic acid or retinoic acid.

Native to Southern Europe, Central Asia, and China and has spread worldwide, cocklebur is found on moist or sandy areas. For centuries, its fruits have been used in traditional medicines such as disorders in skin pigmentation. This study examined the cocklebur fruit extract’s wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties by studying its molecular structure and isolating specific compounds. Using cell cultures and a 3D tissue model that are characteristic of human skin, they observed how these compounds affected collagen production, wound healing, and damage from UVB radiation. Results suggested that the extract induced collagen production and exerted a protective effect against UVB radiation.

Odoo image and text block
Odoo image and text block

Moreover, they found out that cocklebur fruits grown in South Korea had slightly better bioactivity in terms of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, and greater wound-healing capacity compared to those grown in China. However, researchers cautioned that high doses of the fruit extract can be harmful and that further research is required to determine the exact amount needed for cosmetic or pharmaceutical applications. This is due to the toxic constituent, carboxyatractyloside, which damages the liver. This meant that identifying the proper concentrations is key in commercializing cocklebur extract in cosmetics.

The researchers furthered their study on the biological mechanisms involved by conducting experiments in animal alternatives to explore ways to safely adapt the extract for use in various cosmetic products.

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