There is increasing interest in the use of natural substances to prevent or treat diseases and to relieve the effects of traumas. This includes the search for the best natural treatments for conditions and trauma to the largest organ of the human body, the skin. Many skin abnormalities are associated with the effects of biochemical imbalances within the skin’s cells. A very important example is the effect of oxidative stress on the skin. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS, such as free radicals) and the cells’ ability to neutralize these ROS or repair damage that is caused by them.
An active substance that has been extensively researched for its ability to prevent and relieve oxidative stress is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a natural pigment derived from marine species (e.g., shrimp, fish, algae, and crayfish) that has strong antioxidant properties and has been found to alleviate the effects of physical traumatic injury. The US FDA has designated astaxanthin as a substance that is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Yet, it has been found to have powerful properties that can prevent early burn-wound progression (conversion of a superficial partial-thickness burn wound to a deep partial- or full-thickness burn wound).
Clinical studies have demonstrated the ability of astaxanthin to protect organs from oxidative damage. For example, a study in soccer players showed that astaxanthin can increase the levels of an enzyme (paraoxonase 1) that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity but is decreased with oxidative stress (1). The astaxanthin treatment in the soccer players may, therefore, protect paraoxonase 1 from break-down allowing it to provide its antioxidant effects.
Another study in men and women given topical and oral astaxanthin showed that the treatment lead to substantial improvement in the appearance of crow’s feet, skin elasticity and texture, and in skin moisture levels (2). These and other clinical studies indicate that astaxanthin acts as an antioxidant, blocks the damage that oxidative stress can cause, and prevents mediators of inflammation. It is a very effective natural substance with application as a topical and oral substance to relieve the effects of injury and aging.
1. Baralic, I., Djordjevic, B., Dikic, N., Kotur-Stevuljevic, J., Spasic, S., Jelic-Ivanovic, Z., Radivojevic, N., Andjelkovic, M. and Pejic, S. Effect of astaxanthin supplementation on paraoxonase 1 activities and oxidative stress status in young soccer players. Phytotherapy Research 27:1536-1542, 2013.
2. Tominaga K, Hongo N, Karato M, Yamashita E. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43-7.