Stem cells are the rage right now. You can get stem cells to treat joint pain, brain injury, hair loss, and even wrinkles. Stem cells really are an amazing healing therapy. But there’s a problem with stem cells – they’re expensive.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get stem cells for our skin at a fraction of the cost of most stem cell therapies? Well, keep reading. You might be surprised to learn how inexpensive and effective one type of stem cell is.
We all know that to have healthy looking skin, we ultimately have to have healthy skin cells. But few of us actually spend much time thinking about where cells come from – if we even remember that much from high school biology. You may vaguely remember something about cell division. And that’s important. But first, you have to remember where the various types of cells originate. That brings us back to stem cells.
You probably know that stem cells are important. Every organ in your body relies on stem cells because they are “master cells.” They regenerate damaged tissue and help the body repair itself. They have the ability to develop into many different types of cells.
When a stem cell divides, it can either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function – like a skin cell. Beyond that, it can even become a cell with a specialized role within the skin. And since our skin is our largest organ, stem cells are particularly important to it.
How Stem Cells Affect Your Skin
A few years ago, breakthrough research investigated the role of these cells in the skin.
Kim Jensen at the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Copenhagen conducted this research and published his results in the journal Cell Stem Cell. Jensen reported, “Until now, the belief was that the skin's stem cells were organized in a strict hierarchy with a primitive stem cell type at the top of the hierarchy, and that this cell gave rise to all other cell types of the skin. However, our results show that there are differentiated levels of stem cells and that it’s their close micro-environment that determines whether they make hair follicles, fat glands, or sweat glands.”
Through this research, Jensen and his team were better able to understand how stem cells work and how they affect skin maintenance. They've also been able to mark early stem cells so they can map the cells’ behavior and create a “family tree” of cells.
An interesting discovery they've made is that when tissue is damaged, different types of stem cells all rush in to help repair the damage as quickly as possible. But this can be dangerous because this repair can trigger stem cells’ genes to activate, which can give rise to cancer. This discovery helped the team have better direction in understanding the role of tissue damage in skin cancer – and gives all of us another reason not to damage our skin with sun exposure. It doesn’t mean we need to avoid stem cells altogether. We just don’t want to regularly put them in crisis mode.
Exciting New Type of Stem Cell – Without the Controversy
One of the reasons stem cells are such a hot topic isn’t just because of their effectiveness. In some research, stem cells are harvested from aborted babies. So you can see why they would be very controversial. But that’s why the discovery of plant stem cells was so exciting. They provide a new avenue for research – and for use in products. That’s possible because, believe it or not, plant stem cells can mimic what our own stem cells can do for our skin. No, they can’t actually turn into human stem cells or generate new skin. But they can offer a tremendous amount of anti-aging and renewal support.
When human stem cells are able to fulfill their roles slowly and methodically, they can transform and renew our skin. But we lose them as we age. Stem cells from various plants can offer a lot of benefit to our skin. For example, stem cells from grape seeds have anti-tumor effects. Lilac stem cells help wounds heal. And most stem cells can help protect your skin from UVA and UVB radiation.
That alone can make a big difference in the health of your skin. When you decrease skin damage, your own stem cells don’t have to rush to the rescue so often. This decreases your risk of skin cancer. And it means that you aren’t “wasting” your stem cells on damage repair when they could be focused on renewal.
Plant Stem Cells From Switzerland and Anti-Aging
Another key element of aging skin is telomere damage. We’ve talked quite a bit about telomeres in the past. Researchers have found that as these telomere “caps” shorten, epidermal stem cells don’t function as well. UV damage and inflammation can shorten telomeres. But researchers wondered if plant stem cells, with their powerful regenerative and antioxidant properties, could help protect them.
Back in 1958, researchers demonstrated the regenerative power of plant stem cells by re-growing a carrot from cultivated cells. Since then, further research indicates that plant cells produce hormones called auxins that help plants grow roots. Auxins also help regulate telomeres. So plant cells may help protect skin cells from a key component of the aging process.
So far, the research on stem cells and human skin is very promising. Researchers have been particularly interested in stem cells from a type of apple tree called the Uttwiler Spätlauber. This Swiss tree is very old and very rare. But its cells live a very long time. In fact, the tree was bred to have fruit that could stay in storage for a long time. So it’s got some powerful anti-aging stem cells.
Swiss researchers created signs of aging in human fibroblasts (skin cells) by damaging their DNA. Then they incubated the cells in a 2% stem cell extract from this apple tree. Sure enough, they found that the apple stem cells reversed the aging process in the fibroblasts. The stem cells told the skin cells to turn out certain genes related to proliferation and growth. They also increased the expression of an antioxidant enzyme and protected against inflammation.
Researchers have also tested these apple stem cells with human stem cells. The results were astonishing! In the first study on human stem cells, a concentration of 0.1% of Uttwiler Spätlauber stem cells promoted the proliferation of the human cells by 80%. In a second study, the researchers irradiated two groups of human stem cells with UV light. Nearly half of the cells in growth medium alone died, but the vast majority of the cells grown in a culture containing the apple cells survived.
This is great news if you want to protect your own stem cells from the toxins we face and fight every day. You won’t be surprised to hear that we’ve included these apple stem cells in the Système 41 Night Treatment. And I’m following the research on other plant stem cells closely. I can’t wait to see what the next breakthrough will be.
Will These Stem Cells Be the Next Big Breakthrough?
For example, it might come from the tomato plant. Researchers have found that stem cells from the tomato plant can help defend skin against heavy metal toxicity. Tomato stem cells have high levels of phytochelatins. These compounds trap metals and help flush them out of the skin. And these cells are chock-full of protective antioxidants too.
The ginger plant is already a superstar in the natural health world. So it won’t surprise you to hear that early research on ginger stem cells is promising too. One small study with 22 women got great results. The women reported a reduction of about 50% in the appearance of their pores. After six hours, their skin was 15% less shiny. And after they stuck with the stem cell product for 28 days, their sebum levels had dropped 19%. Studies in the lab also found that these cells can boost production of important structural elements like elastin.
Another group of researchers is focusing on the powerful antioxidants in edelweiss stem cells. And research on grape and lilac stem cells, which I mentioned above, is ongoing as well.
Stem cells are a cornerstone to the future of skincare. That’s why we’ve been including them in Système 41 for years. It’s true that plant stem cells will never be able to magically become human stem or skin cells. But the function of these cells means that they’re anti-aging powerhouses whether they come from a person or a plant.
They’re chock-full of antioxidants that every cell can benefit from. They supply healing and detoxifying compounds. These protect us from external sources of damage like UV rays. They won’t turn you into a plant. But they may leave you looking as fresh as a daisy.