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Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Plant Oils

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Natural plant oils have been used for a variety of purposes throughout time, from incorporating them into diets to using them as pharmaceuticals. Today, they have gained recognition for their therapeutic, anti-aging, and restorative effects on the health of our skin. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, select plant oils are capable of preserving, regenerating and repairing the skin.

You’ll find various plant oils (coconut, olive, jojoba, sunflower, etc.) in most natural skin care products. Plant oils provide the perfect base for lotions, creams, nourishing skin oils, and moisturizers. In our eyes, and according to most scientists/researchers, these are the true powerhouse ingredients that make skin healthy, dewy, and problem-free.

Plant Oils are Anti-Inflammatory

Plant oils that are rich in vitamin E, like jojoba, possess incredible anti-inflammatory effects. They not only protect the skin from cellular damage but have been shown to also reverse the damage and regenerate the skin. 1

The skin encounters a daily onslaught of exogenous stressors including environmental pollutants, irritating light, pathogens, and toxins. These sometimes result in injury or infection, leading to inflammatory conditions and therefore skin aging. When inflammation to the skin barrier occurs in response to these injuries, the inflammatory response ignites your innate immune response on a molecular level. This triggers the release of immune cells such as leukocytes, macrophages, mast cells, and dendritic cells. 2,3 

Additionally, various inflammatory mediators called cytokines are attracted to the infection to help contribute to injury prevention, control, and tissue repair. However, the chemokines and cytokines are also able to damage the skin tissue in proximity to the injured site of the inflammatory response. This means that depending on the intensity and duration of the inflammation, damage can be done, resulting in aged skin. That said, reducing inflammation is one of the most important goals in maintaining skin health and balance.

girl applying natural plant oils to her skin

Plant Oils are Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Cancerous

The aging of the skin can be split into two categories: chronological and environmentally-induced. Both of these factors create common changes in the physiology of the skin. The changes include thinning of the skin, loss of elasticity, impairment of the skin barrier, and increase of skin roughness, wrinkling, and dryness.

On a basic level, chronological skin aging happens due to a decrease in the cellular functioning of the skin. Environmental factors in skin aging are brought about by more controllable factors such as exposure to radiation, air pollution, smoking, metabolic changes, environmental toxins, diet and other external stressors that affect the skin.  

Photoaging by chronic exposure to UV radiation is the most common. However different these factors may be in appearance, their biological effect is usually quite similar, which is the cellular damage to the skin, mainly by high levels of “reactive oxygen species” or free radicals. ROS or free radicals age or damage the skin as a result of collagen degradation and oxidative stress.

However, ROS levels can be regulated by various antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione (GSH). When the skin becomes unhealthy, really what happens is its antioxidant capacity is being overwhelmed by stressors. This is what causes oxidative stress, which damages skin cells and alters their gene expression, leading to aging, disease and cancerous cells. 6,7,8.

Luckily, we can supplement antioxidants in times of stress when the naturally occurring antioxidants in the skin are overwhelmed. Of the many antioxidants, vitamin E (tocopherol), which is found exclusively in plant oils, possesses some of the most potent antioxidant activities.

Vitamin E has a dual effect, it is both anti-inflammatory and thereby antioxidative. It acts within the cellular regulatory systems, to prevent inflammation and inappropriate excitation to cells. Vitamin E is a powerful scavenger of hydroxyl radicals and other anti-inflammatory activities in tissues. In one study, an inflammatory induced response via acetic acid, which increased levels of inflammatory tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, myeloperoxidase and malondialdehyde, and decreased levels of antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase was reversed by vitamin E. This suggests a powerful anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect by vitamin E. 9

measuring cup full of natural plant oil

Selecting the Best Natural Plant Oils

Topical applications of plant oils may have different effects on the skin depending on their composition extraction methods. From our understanding and research, cold-pressed oils will possess the most therapeutic action. Considering that plant oils are unsaturated and therefore more sensitive to oxidation, it is important to get fresh, cold-pressed oils that are protected from the air, light, and heat. This is why we selectively use cold-pressed extracts of our plant oils and store our products in dark, Miron glass.

In conclusion, plant oils like jojoba, olive oil, sunflower, almond, coconut, and others improve the health of the skin synergistically by several mechanisms. There is extensive research showing that these oils can promote skin barrier homeostasis, protect the skin from oxidative stress, inflammation, have antimicrobial and anti-cancerous properties, and even promote skin regeneration. With the science in mind, we strongly feel that quality, cold-pressed plant oils are an essential part of any natural skin care regime.

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