The warm season begins and the desire to expose yourself to the sun returns, whether it's by the sea, in the mountains, in city parks or on the balcony of the house. But be careful, sunburns, rashes and inflammations are always lurking! Today we are talking about the sun, its benefits, the possible damage it can cause to our skin and what we can do to defend ourselves, analyzing in particular the action of a plant, Polypodium leucotomos, which is applying to become a precious ally against photoaging and UV damage.
The sun, the friend to pay attention to
The sun is life and, when we expose ourselves to its rays, always with the necessary precautions, we can obtain important benefits. First of all, the sun's rays stimulate the production of vitamin D in our body, a vitamin that protects the bones, the heart and the immune system.
Then, the sun helps reduce the risk of hypertension, improves mood and recharges energy (Mead et al, Environ Health Perspect., 2008). But, as mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, it is necessary to have respect for the sun. In fact, the sun emits a broad spectrum of electromagnetic waves, including ultraviolet, or UV, light. Well, UV light has shown an aggressive action on the skin. UV rays penetrate the skin, even deep into the dermal layers, where they stimulate the production of free radicals. Free radicals, in turn, can damage DNA. Not only that, UV rays can induce inflammation and skin changes that lead to a reduction in collagen production. From here it can be understood that exposure to the sun without precautions can cause damage to the skin, with photoaging, early appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, dry and dehydrated skin, rashes but also, in predisposed people and in the long term, cellular degeneration ( Calzari et al, J Clin Med, 2023). However, we have at our disposal several tools to protect the skin from the damage of UV rays. First of all, it is important to avoid prolonged exposure in the central hours of the day.
Then, it is important to use sunscreens, but also hats, clothes and glasses that offer physical protection. Apart from this, the intake of antioxidant-rich foods and supplements helps in strengthening the skin. Among the supplements there is a fern, called Polypodium leucotomos, which is attracting the attention of scientists for its protective properties for the skin. But let's try to better understand what the scientific research carried out on this topic says.
Polypodium leucotomos, a precious ally of the skin
Polypodium leucotomos is a fern native to Central and South America. An extract is obtained from the leaves of this plant which has shown important photoprotective properties (Calzari et al, J Clin Med, 2023). The beneficial action of this fern is due to its content in phenolic compounds, which counteract the damage of free radicals and inflammation, inhibit DNA mutations, restore the skin's defenses against cellular degeneration and stimulate the production of collagen (Calzari et al, J Clin Med, 2023). Studies have shown that taking Polypodium leucotomos extracts by mouth for three months reduced melasma, which is a condition characterized by areas with accumulations of dark pigment, or melanin.
Then, taking the remedy for six months, combined with photodynamic therapy, which is a dermatological treatment aimed at eliminating pathological epidermal cells, reduced actinic keratoses by 88% in the volunteers subjected to treatment, with a significantly greater action than that obtained with photodynamic therapy alone, which was around 70% (Miola et al, An Bras Dermatol, 2023). Oral intake of the remedy before sun exposure reduced the risk of developing erythema and burns (Segars et al, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 2021). Even the application of creams containing 0.1% Polypodium has been shown to act by reducing the risk of developing sunburn, as well as skin damage and photoaging (Parrado et al, Int J Mol, Sci, 2016).
Polypodium leucotomos also against pollution damage
Air pollution settles on the skin, where it is accumulated and can penetrate the skin through the hair follicles and stimulates the production of free radicals and inflammation. Because of this interaction, pollution is associated with a worsening or the onset of problems that can affect the skin, such as dark spots, wrinkles, acne, dermatitis and psoriasis. Well, the remedy given by Polypodium leucotomos acts with an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action also against the damage that pollution can cause on the skin (Gallego Rentero et al, Antioxidants, 202 2).
Polypodium leucotomos, how it is taken
Polypodium leucotomos extracts can be taken orally as supplements or applied externally as the active ingredient in creams and lotions.
As for oral intake, the recommendations are a 240 mg capsule to be taken one to two times a day, morning and/or evening. In case of prolonged exposure to the sun, it is recommended to take a 240 mg extract capsule one hour before and 3 hours after exposure (Calzari et al, J Clin Med, 2023). Polypodium can also be found in sprays, gels and creams applied to the skin topically, proving effective against inflammation and free radical damage induced by sun rays. It should be emphasized that an excellent synergy was found when Polypodium leucotomos extracts were included in sunscreen formulations. In fact, Polypodium increases the filtering capacity of the cream, reducing the UV rays that reach the skin, as well as increasing the skin's natural defense capacity and counteracting inflammation and free radicals (Aguilera et al, Front Med, 2021).
Polypodium leucotomos, warnings
Polypodium leucotomos, taken up to twice a day in a dose of 240 ml per capsule, is generally considered safe and without particular side effects, even in children (Nestor et al, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 2015). However, studies on its efficacy and safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding are currently lacking, therefore the advice is to avoid using the remedy in these phases (Calzari et al, J Clin Med, 2023). Be careful even if you are taking any medications. Polypodium leucotomos can interfere with the metabolism of drugs, increasing their presence in the blood, but only if the intake of the remedy is prolonged. Indeed, short-term intake, for one day, did not show any interference (Shinya et al, Int J Dermatol, 2022). In any case, always ask your doctor for advice.