I’ve been looking at the latest anti-aging supplement to hit the headlines: phytoceramides. These plant-derived supplements, borne of rice, sweet potato or wheat, have been recommended by Dr Oz as a natural alternative to the facelift or other surgical procedures, effectively plumping the skin from the lowest dermal layer through to the top epidermis and keeping us looking younger and healthier.
In my article entitled Phytoceramides: How These Anti-Aging Tablets Work, I outlined how the supplements:
- Contain lipids that are the same as those found naturally in our skin, mimicking their actions
- Penetrate each of the four layers of our skin (known as dermal layers)
- Boost our natural production of collagen, which plumps the skin and increases elasticity
- Form a protective layer against infections and inflammation
- Keep our skin hydrated, locking in moisture
- Slow the aging process and can even reverse existing signs of aging such as wrinkles and crow’s feet, from the inside out
But is there any clinical evidence to support these claims?
I found just four clinical trials studying the effects of phytoceramides, with just two focused on skin issues and improvement. But the remaining studies are incredibly interesting, and have enough potential beyond simply aesthetics for me to give these supplements a thumbs-up.
51 women aged between 20 and 63 were prescribed a wheat-based phytoceramide or wheat-extract oil (WEO) with the following findings:
- “Skin hydration was significantly increased.”
- “Skin dryness and redness tended to be reduced in the WEO group.”
- “The WEO capsules were perceived by participants as being more effective than placebo on all skin dryness signs.”
- “After 3 months’ treatment, a significant increase in skin hydration and an improvement in associated clinical signs were observed in women with dry skin.”
Imokawa et al were researching the causes of ‘atopic’ dry skin, and concluded that “an insufficiency of ceramides in the stratum corneum is an etiologic factor in atopic dry skin”, linking dry skin to a lack of ceramides.
Jung et al were researching how phytoceramides could positively improve brain function, and concluded that phytoceramides “could be a potential new therapeutic agent for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
Just 3 years ago, Sekiya et alwere researching immunity and they discovered that certain phytoceramides could stimulate a natural increase of our immunity against viruses.
Is this enough to say, categorically, that phytoceramides are clinically proven to help us in the battle against aging?
No, unfortunately not. Are the findings very encouraging? Yes, certainly. Should we be supplementing with phytoceramides for anti-aging? Yes, I believe so, particularly if there are additional benefits such as increased immunity and protection from neurodegenerative diseases.
For more information about what to look for if you want to try phytoceramides for yourself, please check out my Phytoceramides: Dosage and What To Look For article.