The Problem -Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) & Free Radicals
The paradox in metabolism for most all living things is that the vast majority of complex life requires oxygen for its existence, but also, unfortunately, oxygen is a highly reactive molecule that can damage living organisms by producing reactive oxygen species (ROS). Commonly called oxidative stress, it negatively impacts all of our body tissues by causing damage to DNA which can cause mutations and possibly cancer, if not reversed by DNA repair mechanisms. Many studies have shown the negative effects of premature aging of tissues due to ROS damage. Free radicals are a particular type of ROS that do harm to your cells. It is impossible for us to avoid damage by free radicals. They can be created from conditions both inside (endogenous) and outside (exogenous) our bodies. Free radicals that develop from processes within our bodies form as a result of normal aerobic respiration, cell metabolism, hormonal changes, stress, and inflammation. Exogenous generated free radicals are created by environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, types of radiation, smoking and alcohol. We have internal antioxidant systems that help, but are not perfect, so as we age, cells damaged by free radical oxidation accumulate.
Our skin is especially subject to free radical damage due to its role as our protector from the external environment. Often, free radicals are at the very beginning of damaging reactive cascades that are responsible for accelerated skin aging. The main cause of free radical creation in skin is UV radiation which greatly contributes to photo-aging, wrinkling, pigmentation issues, and, even worse, malignant melanoma. Reduction of UV radiation can be accomplished with various sunscreen products, but these do not totally prevent free radical damage, and obviously, do not address dealing with free radicals from causes other than sunlight exposure. Thus, there is great need for additional means to neutralize free radicals in the skin. Nature has provided us with a solution – antioxidants.
Antioxidants: The Solution
An antioxidant is a unique type of molecule that acts like a little Pacman and “gobbles up” dangerous free radicals before they can do damage. Some antioxidants are produced within the human body such as alpha lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10. Each of these has special functions in quenching and repairing ROS damage. With age our production of these substances within the body slows down and supplementation is often necessary; so we turn to the wonderful world of plants for help.
Over vast ages of survival adaptation, plants have developed complex antioxidant protective systems to help them survive and even thrive in harsh external environments. Thus, many botanical sources are rich in antioxidant protection. Usually, the harsher the environment a plant has learned to thrive in, the more powerful the antioxidants it has intrinsically built up over time. Stemology® products use these powerful plants to provide natural sources of Vitamins A, C & E, Carotenoids, Polyphenols, and Flavonoids, along with many other antioxidant compounds. Fortunately, though the antioxidants were developed by plants, they are effective across genetic boundaries and are usable as antioxidants for our human body as well. When these botanical antioxidants are orally consumed, those that survive the digestive process are delivered to all tissues, and our skin only receives a limited amount. For skin protection, applying antioxidants topically is the most effective. Our skin receives much more when delivered directly, provided that good techniques are employed in the topical formulation to effectively protect the antioxidants from destruction and carry them into the skin.
Since UV exposure from sunlight is a major contributor to the generation of damaging free radicals in our skin, it is important to protect ourselves with antioxidants to stop the damage and thus the premature aging. Recent studies in the role of antioxidants in skin cancer prevention show that it is important to pretreat the skin with antioxidants before sun exposure. Animal and human studies have convincingly demonstrated pronounced photoprotective effects of natural antioxidants when applied topically before UV exposure. This is one of the reasons why all Stemology® leave-on products have a rich suite of antioxidants … COQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Flavonoids, Carotenoids, Polyphenols … to help pretreat and protect the skin from exposure damage which can bring on premature aging. If you apply Stemology® in the morning, you will have antioxidant protection as you go about your day. So, protect your skin from potential damage with Stemology® products and put on a healthy face!
Dr. Hal Simeroth, PhD
Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Stemology
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