Forget expensive moisturisers and cosmetic surgery, a compound found in the humble elderberry could give a natural boost to skin.
In the first study of its kind, a team of researchers led by Prof Aedin Cassidy at the University of East Anglia and Dr Paul Kroon at the Institute of Food Research, will explore whether the skin's condition is improved by a compound which gives berries their vibrant colour (called 'anthocyanin').
In a 12-week trial starting in September, post-menopausal women will consume either extracts from elderberries or placebo capsules, and will have their skin's structure and appearance measured with state-of-the-art equipment used by experts in skin science. At the same time, researchers will also test whether the elderberry extract can reduce risk factors for heart disease.
"We already know that a healthy diet can help protect against heart disease and skin damage, and that a mixture of similar food components have been shown to improve the skin's structure. There is also evidence that the active components have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be important in helping people stay healthy," said UEA's Dr Peter Curtis who is leading the project.
"If the results of our study are positive, it may lead to innovations in skin health products and may also give us vital information about diets which promote healthier hearts."
Dr Curtis is asking for generally healthy post-menopausal women to take part in the trial. They must be aged between 45 and 70, non-smokers and not on HRT. The volunteers will take four capsules each day for 12-weeks, while maintaining their normal skin health regimes. Volunteers will also be asked to avoid eating anthocyanin rich foods such as berries, and limit the intake of some other foods which may affect the results of the study. During the trial volunteers will be required to give blood, urine and skin samples and measurements will be taken of their skin condition and appearance.
Travel and parking expenses will be reimbursed and those completing the study will also receive an inconvenience payment of £100.
If you, or someone you know, would like to take part or find out more, please contact the study's research nurses on 01603 288570 or e-mail Dr Curtis at [email protected].