The treasures of the silver birch September 27, 2015 18:53
Betulin and betulinic acid are the skin great helpers. We will find them in the external layer of birch bark (‘Betula alba’ is the Latin name for the silver birch). They give the birch trunks their white colour and, just as they protect the tree, they help the skin to remain healthy. They achieve this in two ways: by strengthening the protective barrier of the skin and by reducing the loss of collagen.
We already know that the epidermis is protected by a layer of the ‘cement’ and ‘bricks’. Some studies suggest that betulin increases the moisture of skin, helps it to retain water and reduces the skin redness (Casetti et al., 2011). It also helps to soothe inflammation.
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
But the beneficial effects of the birch bark extract is not limited to the epidermis. Deeper, in the dermis, there are fibers of collagen and elastin. They are responsible for the firmness and elasticity of the skin. As we age, these fibers are gradually destroyed by the proteolytic enzyme MMP_1, also referred to as collagenase. This causes the skin to wrinkle and slacken. Betulinic acid reduces MMP_1 (Lee et al., 2012), thus helping the skin to regenerate and dminishing lines.
It seems then that the extract from the birch bark could be a panaceum for the main problems of ageing: dry skin and wrinkles. Does it really work? We have to see for ourselves :-)
Casetti, F., U. Wolfle, W. Gehring, and C. M. Schempp, 2011, Dermocosmetics for Dry Skin: A New Role for Botanical Extracts: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, v. 24, p. 289-293.
Lee, C. W., N. H. Park, J. W. Kim, B. H. Um, A. V. Shpatov, E. E. Shults, I. V. Sorokina, and S. A. Popov, 2012, Study of skin anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory effects of dihydroquercetin, natural triterpenoinds, and their synthetic derivatives: Russian Journal of Bioorganic Chemistry, v. 38, p. 328-334.