The New Antioxidants – Part 1: Ginkgo Nut Extract

Written by Craig Kraffert, board certified dermatologist and president of Amarte

Antioxidants help prevent premature skin aging by nullifying the harmful effects of free radical activity and are found across a broad array of skin care products. The antioxidant story that started with vitamin E now spans a wide array of compounds and continues to expand. Some of the more new, interesting antioxidants consist primarily of plant extracts containing bioactive molecules that often extend beyond antioxidant benefits to include anti-inflammatory and even potential anti-cancer effects.

Koreans have long been fascinated with the Ginkgo tree. The Donguibogam medical text of 1613 specifically calls out the consumption of Ginkgo nuts for the treatment of respiratory ailments. As an International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) ingredient, Ginkgo nut extract is an extract from Korea and, while a few skin care products feature Ginkgo leaf extract, incorporation of Ginkgo nut extract within skin care products is exceptionally rare. Ginkgo nuts are small and separating the outer fruit (for extraction) from the seed (discarded) by hand is a very slow process and does not provide ideal material from which to initiate an extraction. The extraction process is technically difficult and takes approximately four months. The fruity part of the Ginkgo nut provides the most beneficial extract. This portion of the nut has a strong odor so proper extraction techniques are essential for a commercially valuable result. The smell of Ginkgo nut extract is remarkably pleasant.
Both Ginkgo nut and Ginkgo leaf extracts possess concentrated antioxidant activity and are rich in vitamins C and E. Ginkgo also appears to exhibit anti-
inflammatory properties and aid fibroblast production of collagen and elastin thus, exerting protective effects on blood vessels. Its beneficial properties are attributed to various flavonoids, including quercetin, kaemphferol and ginkgetin. Other key bioactive molecules include ginkgolide and bilobalide, catechin, tannin and luteolin.

References
Svobodová A., Psotová J., Walterová D. “Natural Phenolics in the Prevention of UV Induced Skin Damage, a Review.” Biomed. Papers 147(2), 137–145 (2003).
Di Mambro VM1, Fonseca MJ. “Assays of physical stability and antioxidant activity of a topical formulation added with different plant extracts.” J Pharm Biomed Analysis. 2005 Feb 23;37(2):287-95.
Bridi R1, Crossetti FP, Steffen VM, Henriques AT. “The antioxidant activity of standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) in rats.” Phytother Res. 2001 Aug;15(5):449-51.

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