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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Supplementation with Essential Fats Improves Skin Health

Essential oils in blends with carrier oils have long been used to improve skin health, heal wounds and reduce the signs of aging. When seeking to improve skin health, in addition to topical formulas, it is VERY important to consider nutrition and internal supplementation with certain nutrients. One of the nutrients that most consistently improves skin health markers is essential fatty acids (or simply 'essential fats').

Essential fats are oils typically pressed from seeds that the body needs, but cannot make from other fats in the diet. These 'essential fats' are just oils with unique molecular arrangements ~ different configurations of carbon and hydrogen atoms than found in 'non-essential' fats, or fats that the body CAN in-fact make on its own from other nutrient sources. Our 'Western' diets are typically low in essential fats, and supplementing can not only improve the health of the skin, but have a significant positive impact on many other systems in the body.

Evening Primrose Oil and Hemp Oil are two oils cold-pressed (in order to best retain their healthful properties) from seeds. These oils are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and each have other unique fatty acids within them that are very beneficial to skin health, brain health, emotional and mental health, and hormonal balance. These oils are often found in capsules for dietary supplementation, though we tend to just 'swig' a tablespoon or so from the bottle every so often, as the cost relative to capsules is significantly lower.

Here are a couple of studies that note the improvement of skin health with the consumption of essential fatty acids as supplements. Note that the supplement size is fairly small (1-2 grams, which is less than a teaspoon per day ~ we generally use a tablespoon, which is 3 teaspoons), and the time for the users to show improvements seems relatively long. Maybe with larger amounts, the time would be less, but that is yet to be part of the experiments.

The first study describes the use of Evening Primrose in improving general skin health ~ the second describes Hemp Oil as beneficial in atopic dermatitis (irritated skin that is not the result of allergens in direct contact of the area). Other studies describe Evening Primrose also useful for this condition, and it is also likely the case that Hemp Oil supplementation will improve skin health overall. Both of these oils can be used topically as well, with or without the addition of low concentrations of essential oils (1-3%) for therapeutic effects.

Study: Systemic evening primrose oil improves the biophysical skin parameters of healthy adults.

Muggli R. AdviServ Consulting, Rotbergstrasse 11, CH-4114 Hofstetten, Switzerland.

Biophysical skin parameters are indicators of age-related structural and functional changes in skin tissues. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy adults tested the effect of Efamol evening primrose oil [EPO, a gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) containing vegetable oil] on skin moisture, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), redness, firmness, elasticity, fatigue resistance and roughness. Efamol EPO was administered orally in soft gel capsules, 3 x 500 mg b.i.d. for 12 weeks. Measurements were taken at baseline and at weeks 4 and 12. The two treatment groups did not differ at baseline and at week 4. At week 12, however, all measured variables, with the exception of skin redness, were significantly different in the EPO group compared with placebo. Skin moisture, TEWL, elasticity, firmness, fatigue resistance and roughness had significantly improved by 12.9, 7.7, 4.7, 16.7, 14.2 and 21.7%, respectively. The two-sided levels of significance in favor of the EPO treatment ranged between 0.034 and 0.001. These findings lend further support to the notion that GLA is a conditionally essential fatty acid for the skin, i.e. it is unable to synthesize GLA, and therefore depends on preformed GLA for optimal structure and function.

Study: Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.

Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, Järvinen T.
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kuopio, Finland.

BACKGROUND: Hempseed oil is a rich and balanced source of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Anecdotal evidence indicated that dietary hempseed oil might be useful in treating symptoms of atopic dermatitis. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Dietary hempseed oil and olive oil were compared in a 20-week randomized, single-blind crossover study with atopic patients. Fatty acid profiles were measured in plasma triglyceride, cholesteryl and phospholipid fractions. A patient questionnaire provided additional information on skin dryness, itchiness and usage of dermal medications. Skin transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was also measured. RESULTS: Levels of both essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (18:2n6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n3), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA; 18:3n6) increased in all lipid fractions after hempseed oil, with no significant increases of arachidonic acid (20:4n6) in any lipid fractions after either oil. Intra-group TEWL values decreased (p=0.074), qualities of both skin dryness and itchiness improved (p=0.027) and dermal medication usage decreased (p=0.024) after hempseed oil intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary hempseed oil caused significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles and improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis. It is suggested that these improvements resulted from the balanced and abundant supply of PUFAs in this hempseed oil.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

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