What are antioxidants that everyone keeps talking about? There seems to be a general consensus that they are good for your skin but just how do they work and what do they do?
In simple terms, oxygen (aka oxidation) has a damaging and ageing effect on the body and skin cells. An antioxidant is a substance such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene or polyphenol that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism. Antioxidants protect the body and skin cells from oxidation. In more technical terms an antioxidant is related to free radicals.
WHAT ARE FREE RADICALS?
Exposure to oxygen (aka oxidation) can “break” atoms, so they end up with unpaired electrons, which make them chemical loose cannons. These bad boys, called free radicals, are constantly on the hunt for spare electrons to stabilize their mixed-up atoms. Free radicals latch onto electrons from other cells, which can create a chain reaction of free radical-ness. Stealing nearby electrons means that the cell next door loses some of its electrons, therefore becoming a free radical in its own right. The constant battle sounds tiring.
WHAT ARE POLYPHENOLS?
Honey is a rich antioxidant source because of its polyphenols content which are powerful antixoidants. This rich source of phenolic compounds exert significant antioxidant activity. Polyphenols contain anti-inflammatory qualities and can be found in some herbal teas, such as green tea or rooibos tea.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN E IN NATURAL SKINCARE TREATMENTS?
Vitamin E aka tocopherols have many significant functions. For example it acts as an antioxidant, which protects cell membranes which helps maintain healthy skin. Oregan State University’s says that vitamin E “as an antioxidant, vitamin E primarily reacts with reactive oxygen species. In addition, vitamin E can also absorb the energy from ultraviolet (UV) light. Thus, it plays important roles in photoprotection, preventing UV-induced free radical damage to skin. Vitamin E may also have related anti-inflammatory roles in the skin.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN C IN NATURAL SKINCARE TREATMENTS?
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can be used topically in dermatology to treat and prevent changes associated with photoageing. It can also be used for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Because it is unstable and difficult to deliver into the dermis in the optimum dosage, research is being directed to find stable compounds of Vitamin C and newer methods of delivery of Vitamin C into the dermis.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BETA-CAROTENE IN NATURAL SKINCARE TREATMENTS?
Honey contains beta-carotene which has an orange-red pigment. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, also known at retinol. Honey has a plethora of vitamins, minerals and trace amounts of amino acids and antioxidands. Retinols work actively within the body and have been used in topical skin treatments since the 1970s. Vitamin A was the first retinol to be used in the therapeutic treatment for skin disorders, according to the editors of "Pediatric Dermatology." Cosmetic companies use various forms of topical retinols to improve tone and elasticity of the skin.
HONEY & ANTIOXIDANTS
Honey is an antioxidant and excellent as a natural skincare treatment as I am sure if she was around Cleopatra would testify to. The vitamin and mineral content of honey is:
Vitamin A - Betacarotene - B-complex vitamins (complete) - Vitamin C, D, E, K - Magnesium - Sulfur - Phosphorus - Iron - Calcium - Chlorine - Potassium - Iodine - Sodium - Copper - Manganese
Raw honey also contains a rich supply of live enzymes and like the other bee products, some substances in honey cannot be identified. Honey may contain other medicinal compounds, depending on the type of plant from which the pollen was taken. Scientists in Istanbul have experimented with Honey in an effort to reveal potential benefits in the operating theatre. They have established that honey applied to wounds post surgery can prevent the formation of tumors and prevent the growth of cancerous cells.
Work is underway at the Mayo clinic into discovering potential uses for bee products in the medical field. This and other ongoing research into the medicinal uses of bee products is extremely encouraging. The only surprise is just how long it has taken the medical community in the USA to show serious interest, whereas the rest of the world it seems has known for years.