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There is no magic wand for turning back the hands of time. But there are natural solutions for slowing the effects of aging and the wrinkles that come with it
The beauty industry has big marketing budgets. They've spent fortunes trying to convince women that injections, chemical peels or $300 creams and serums will smooth wrinkles and restore youthful skin.
But harsh treatments and chemicals can actually make things worse.
The beauty industry focuses almost exclusively on external issues. But skin reflects the health of your entire body from the inside out. It tells the story of chronic stress, the toxins in your food, chemicals in your environment, and lifestyle choices. There is no magic bullet to repair the skin from all that.
But there are natural alternatives for slowing the effects of aging and the wrinkles that come with it. Here are five natural ways to reduce wrinkles that are proven effective.
1. Stop Smoking
In a 2010 study a team of dermatologists, psychologists, and nutritionists followed 64 Italian women who smoked. At the beginning of the study each woman received a score based on the condition of her skin. The researchers took into account the presence of lines, vascular and pigmentation signs, elasticity, brightness and texture.
Initial scores found that on average the smokers had a biological age that was 9 years older than their actual age.
The women then participated in a smoking cessation program. After 9 months of not smoking they were scored again. The average reduction in their biological age was an amazing 13 years.[i]
Trying to quit? Read: Lime Juice and 8 Other Natural Ways to Quit Smoking.
2. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe is an established topical remedy for skin. But a 2009 study found taking aloe orally reduces facial wrinkles.
In the study, 30 healthy women over the age of 45 took aloe vera gel as a supplement. One group took a low dose (1,200 mg/day) and a second group took a high-dose (3,600 mg/day). [ii]
The researchers measured signs of skin aging at the beginning and end of the study. After just 90 days, the researchers found that facial wrinkles improved significantly in both groups. But in the lower dose group facial elasticity also improved.
How does it work? The researchers found that the aloe increased collagen production leading to better structural support of the skin and fewer wrinkles.
They also found aloe decreased gene activity that causes collagen to become damaged in the first place.
Aloe gel contains over 200 healing phytonutrients. If you have access to an aloe plant you can get the gel from the leaves. Just make sure to drain the red "latex." It can cause diarrhea.
Add the gel to fruit juice or your favorite smoothie. When buying aloe vera juice make sure you avoid products with added sugars or preservatives. It should be at least 85% aloe vera juice.
3. Red Ginseng Extract
Red ginseng contains many bioactive compounds including antioxidants, immune boosters, and anti-aging agents.
In Korea, 82 healthy women volunteers over 40 years of age participated in a double-blind, placebo controlled study. Every day the women received either a placebo or 3 grams of an herbal mixture containing red ginseng extract. The researchers measured facial wrinkles, skin elasticity, water content, erythema (red patches), and pigmentation before and after the trial. Facial skin samples were taken before and after treatment, and wrinkle-related biochemical markers were also measured.
At the end of 6 months, the researchers found facial wrinkles were significantly improved in the women taking the red ginseng extract. In addition, several biochemical markers of wrinkle damage also improved.[iii]
How does it work? The researchers found that the red ginseng increased collagen synthesis in the dermis. They called red ginseng an effective "beauty food."
Red ginseng is a form of unpeeled and steamed Panax ginseng (also known as Asian or Korean ginseng). It is said to have "heating" properties that improve circulation. Don't confuse it with American or Siberian ginseng.
Red ginseng is available in tinctures, liquid extracts, powders and capsules.
4. Pine Bark Extract
Japanese researchers divided the women into two groups. One group received 100 mg of pine bark extract every day while the other group received only 40 mg. After 12 weeks both groups had a significant decrease in signs of photoaging.
In the study, women took the standardized pine bark extract marketed as Pycnogenol®. The researchers found the Pycnogenol significantly improved hydration and elasticity of the women's skin. It also significantly increased the activity of an enzyme that's critically involved in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid increases skin moisture and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles.
The Pycnogenol also affected genes involved in the creation of new collagen.
The researchers believe that supplementing with Pycnogenol may help counteract the clinical signs of skin aging. Supplements are available in health food stores and online.
But pine bark extract doesn't just help your skin. The supplements support heart and arterial health as well as brain function. They've also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and arthritis.
5. Dietary Fat and Vegetables
What you eat can have a big impact on wrinkles.
In one Japanese study of 716 women, researchers measured skin hydration, surface oil, and elasticity. They also measured facial wrinkles in the crow's feet area around the eyes.
The women also reported on their usual diet habits. The researchers found that women who ate more total fat, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fats had significantly better skin elasticity.
Women who ate more green and yellow vegetables also had significantly fewer wrinkles.[v]
Don't forget there are good fats and bad fats. Avoid vegetable oils. They can make skin worse. Good dietary sources of fats include:
- grass-fed meat and dairy products like butter and yogurt
- wild caught salmon
- pastured poultry and eggs
- coconut oil
- olive oil
Green and yellow vegetables are rich in antioxidants and beta carotene which promote clear skin. Healthy choices include:
- kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, collards, mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula.
- Yellow bell peppers, winter squash, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Visit the GreenMedInfo database on Skin Aging well over 100 studies on natural ways to keep your skin youthful.
[i] Riccarda Serri, Maria Concetta Romano, Adele Sparavigna. "Quitting smoking rejuvenates the skin": results of a pilot project on smoking cessation conducted in Milan, Italy. Skinmed. 2010 Jan-Feb;8(1):23-9. PMID: 20839421
[ii] Soyun Cho, Serah Lee, Min-Jung Lee, Dong Hun Lee, Chong-Hyun Won, Sang Min Kim, Jin Ho Chung. Dietary Aloe Vera Supplementation Improves Facial Wrinkles and Elasticity and It Increases the Type I Procollagen Gene Expression in Human Skin in vivo. Ann Dermatol. 2009 Feb;21(1):6-11. Epub 2009 Feb 28. PMID: 20548848
[iii] Soyun Cho, Chong-Hyun Won, Dong Hun Lee, Min-Jung Lee, Serah Lee, Seung-Ho So, Seong-Kye Lee, Bon-Suk Koo, Na-Mi Kim, Jin Ho Chung. Red ginseng root extract mixed with Torilus fructus and Corni fructus improves facial wrinkles and increases type I procollagen synthesis in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Med Food. 2009 Dec;12(6):1252-9. PMID: 20041778
[iv] Minao Furumura, Noriko Sato, Nobutaka Kusaba, Kinya Takagaki, Juichiro Nakayama. Oral administration of French maritime pine bark extract (Flavangenol(®)) improves clinical symptoms in photoaged facial skin. Clin Interv Aging. 2012 ;7:275-86. Epub 2012 Jul 27. PMID: 22956863
[v] Chisato Nagata, Kozue Nakamura, Keiko Wada, Shino Oba, Makoto Hayashi, Noriyuki Takeda, Keigo Yasuda. Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women. Br J Nutr. 2010 May;103(10):1493-8. Epub 2010 Jan 20. PMID: 20085665