Maple trees are associated with the maple syrup that they provide. Researchers have now found that the trees could provide us with more. The extract from maple leaves can actually prevent wrinkles, they found.
Image Credit: Anna Molcharenko / Shutterstock
The team of scientists from University of Rhode Island presenting their work at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Boston have found the benefits offered by the maple leaves. Their study is titled, “Inhibitory Effects of Glucitol-core Containing Gallotannins from a Proprietary Red Maple (Acer rubrum) Leaves Extract on Elastase Enzyme”. There have been historical records of the medicinal uses of maple leaves as used by the Native Americans explained Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., the project's principal investigator. He said that Native Americans used the red maple leaves in their traditional systems of medicine.
The team explains that the elasticity of the skin is maintained by special proteins called elastin. When the skin ages wrinkles are formed because an enzyme called elastase breaks down the elastin. Hang Ma, Ph.D. research associate in Seeram's lab, who is presenting the work at the meeting explained that they tried to find if the maple leaf extracts could stop the enzyme elastase.
Extracts from summer or fall red maple leaves are formulated into a powder that could be incorporated in skincare products to prevent wrinkles. Image Credit: Hang Ma
The team of researchers extracted the phenolic compounds in the leaves known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs) from red maple leaves (Acer rubrum). They looked at each of these compounds individually to see if it could inhibit elastase within a test tube. GCGs which contained multiple galloyl groups were found to be more effective in stopping elastase action than those with a single galloyl group. Sreeram has shown in earlier studies that these GCGs do not just prevent wrinkles but also protect the skin from inflammation and remove dark spots, freckles and age spots.
Seeram and Ma continued their testing after their initial findings and Sreeram calls this “a plant-based Botox” that could be applied over the skin and does not have to be injected like Botox. He added that consumers who wish to use plant based natural ingredients in their skin care products would appreciate this finding.
As of now they have extracted the phenolic compounds from the summer and fall maple leaves. The formulation is a proprietary product and is awaiting a patent. It is to be called MaplifaTM. It has been licensed to botanical extracts supplier Verdure Sciences based in Indiana. It could soon end up in the cosmetics shelves or in the shelves for dietary supplements say the researchers. Seeram added, “Many botanical ingredients traditionally come from China, India and the Mediterranean, but the sugar maple and the red maple only grow in eastern North America.” He said that the local farmers who tap the syrup would now be able to add to their source of income from collecting leaves during normal pruning or during fall. This time for collection makes the system sustainable and profitable he explained.