Maple leaf extract could be used to prevent wrinkles, according to the findings of a research presented at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. Researchers have used maple leaf extract to innovate a skincare product that may help prevent wrinkles in the same way Botox does but without injections.
The scientists had previously studied the chemistry and health benefits of sap and syrup obtained from sugar maple and red maple trees. Historical records suggested that other parts of the trees could also be useful. According to the researchers, maple food products, could relieve conditions such as metabolic syndrome and liver disease, as well as benefit brain health and help maintain a healthy gut.
“Native Americans used leaves from red maple trees in their traditional system of medicine, “so why should we ignore the leaves?”,said Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., the lead author of the study.
Skin elasticity is maintained by proteins such as elastin. Wrinkles form when the enzyme elastase breaks down elastin in the skin as part of the aging process. “We wanted to see whether leaf extracts from red maple trees could block the activity of elastase,” says Hang Ma, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting and is a research associate in Seeram’s lab.
The researchers investigated the phenolic compounds in the leaves known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs) and examined each compound’s ability to inhibit elastase activity in a test tube. The scientists also conducted computational studies to examine how the GCGs interact with elastase to block its activity, and how the molecules’ structures affect that blocking ability. GCGs containing multiple galloyl groups (a type of phenolic group) were more effective than those with a single galloyl group. But these compounds can do more than interfere with elastase. In prior work, Seeram’s group showed that these same GCGs might be able to protect skin from inflammation and lighten dark spots, such as unwanted freckles or age spots.
“You could imagine that these extracts might tighten up human skin like a plant-based Botox®, though they would be a topical application, not an injected toxin,” Seeram says. “And the fact that the extracts are derived from trees would be appreciated by consumers who are looking for natural, plant-based ingredients in their skincare products, ”he added.
The researchers are interested to transform the botanical extracts into marketable skincare products. They have already developed a formula that contains GCGs, which the researchers named “Maplifa.”