Astragalus root has been well-known in Chinese medicine for centuries for its ability to invigorate vital energy (qi). It enjoys exalted status as one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. More recently it has attracted the attention of scientists who are interested in the chemistry and properties of the root extracts for herbal skin care.
The medicinal herb, known as Radix Astragali (‘root of Astragalus’) in western herbal medicine, produces several classes of plant constituents. The main active ingredients are its antioxidant flavonoids and a number of sterol derivatives called astragalosides. Currently one of the most exciting areas of research on Radix Astragali involves the potential of astragalosides for slowing down aging.
One of the astragalosides, called astragaloside IV, gives rise to a substance called cycloastragenol. This compound has a protective effect on chromosomes during cellular reproduction. Such effects comprise one of the hottest topics in anti-aging research at this time. In fact, pharmaceutical companies are racing to find synthetic analogues to cycloastragenol that will serve as the first patented anti-aging drugs.
Two research studies on cycloastragenol published in 2014 already show its potential health benefits. One study, from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, demonstrated how cycloastragenol suppresses the formation of new fat cells. This may be of benefit for treating obesity.
The other study, from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, discovered that cycloastragenol stimulates a key anti-aging enzyme in cell cultures of human keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are the most abundant cells in our epidermis, constituting about 90% of the outermost layer of skin.
Scientists in the College of Oriental Medicine at Kyung Hee University in South Korea have been studying the potential for Radix Astragali extracts for protecting skin against damage by UV light. In 2013 they reported on the beneficial effects of these root extracts when skin cells called fibroblasts are exposed to UV light. UV damage, called photoaging, is characterized by the destruction of pre-collagen and the stimulation of an enzyme, collagenase, that breaks down existing collagen. Collagen is essential for healthy skin since it is the main structural component between skin cells.
Collagen in UV-exposed fibroblasts cells was protected by astragalus root extracts by stopping the loss of pre-collagen and by inhibiting the collagenase enzyme.
Astragalus in Herbal Skin Care Products
Just this little bit of science shows how modern research continues to confirm ancient knowledge about astragalus root. It is clearly one of the most important ingredients to look for in natural skin care products. Astragalus root is particularly important when it is combined with other ingredients that are known to help smooth away fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes and other areas that are more susceptible to damage by UV light.
Indeed, it one of the key ingredients used in many of Jadience’s Skin Care products