Your Battleplan To Combat Aging Skin: Hormone Therapy and Topical Interventions, Part 2/3
Arm yourself by learning the newest research about which hormones, nutrients and topical agents are proven therapies in the battle to combat aging skin.
IN PART 1 of this three-part series on how to combat aging skin, we examined skin anatomy and function, reviewed the various intrinsic and extrinsic factors behind skin deterioration, and examined dietary solutions.
Here in Part 2, we’ll dive into how to combat aging skin with hormone therapy, nutritional supplementation and topical therapies — all largely based on the Life Extension Foundation protocol.
Finally, next week in Part 3, we’ll check out the latest products, both topical and oral, that incorporate many of the therapies and nutrition reviewed in Parts 1 and 2.
Now that you’ve got the lay of the land, sorta speak, let’s learn how to keep our skin healthy and wrinkle-free.
Combat Aging Skin with Hormone Therapy
Age-related changes in hormone levels — especially those that occur during menopause for women – affect the skin dramatically. Many studies have examined how using natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy could maintain hormones in a youthful range.
But hormone therapy is provocative.
Like with many health matters, there are experts who passionately argue both sides of this issue – some saying that hormone depletion is a natural and acceptable part of aging, and others who maintain that there’s no reason we should not prolong attributes of a youthful life if this can be done safely.
One thing is clear – hormone therapy should be done with a medical expert in this field who will consistently monitor your hormone levels, typically with biannual blood tests.
Let’s take a look at three hormones that impact your skin.
Estradiol is a human sex hormone and steroid, and the primary female sex hormone. Several studies have examined the efficacy of estradiol therapy to combat aging skin in women.
The results have been promising.
In one study, conceived to assess the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on skin aging, 40 postmenopausal women received systemic estrogen replacement therapy for seven 28-day cycles. By the end of the trial, skin elasticity and hydration improved significantly, with no adverse effects reported.
In another trial, researchers aimed to assess the effects of systemic estrogen therapy on skin collagen in postmenopausal women. Researchers found that by 16 weeks of treatment, collagen content had significantly increased in facial skin, resulting in improved texture and firmness.
There are also some studies that have noted visual improvements in skin dispigmentation (age spots) and wrinkle reduction in peri- and post-menopausal women treated with systemic transdermal estradiol-based creams.
DHEA (“Dehydroepiandrosterone”) is a hormone that comes from the adrenal gland, and also made in the brain. It leads to the production of androgens and estrogens (male and female sex hormones).
DHEA levels in the body begin to decrease after age 30, and more quickly in women.
Low DHEA levels may lead to hormonal disorders, which then can have a cascade effect on many health issues such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, depression, diabetes, inflammation, immune disorders, and osteoporosis.
DHEA was part of my own testosterone-building protocol that I present in, Boost Your Testosterone Naturally.
Research on DHEA suggest that:
- DHEA itself has powerful skin protective effects, particularly in protecting the delicate skin vessels of skin when applied topically.
- It has antioxidant action against free radicals and can limit the bioactivation of some toxins.
- It can blunt chemical carcinogen-induced DNA damage.
- Topical DHEA may improve skin brightness and texture in postmenopausal women after 4 months of treatment.
Like DHEA, melatonin is also found in the skin and declines with age.
In low concentrations, melatonin can stimulate cell growth. This type of on-site, organ-specific production of hormones (remember that skin is an organ) is called intracrine biosynthesis.
Intracrine biosynthesis allows different organs to manufacture the substances they need without flooding the entire body with growth factors.
Research on melatonin suggests that:
- It has antioxidant effects that protects against UV radiation.
- Topical melatonin protects against sunburn if applied before sun exposure, and may repair skin burn.
- Melatonin may have a role in regulating blood circulation within the skin.
Nutritional Supplementation to Combat Aging Skin
In Asian and Europe, oral nutritional supplementation to support skin health and beauty is common and well established, but is relatively new in North America.
Nutritional supplements work from the inside out — the opposite of topically applied ointments, which can be effective both on the skin and within the body as the active ingredients are absorbed.
Ideally, your protocol to combat aging skin will include both topical ointments and nutritional supplementation.
Nutritional Support for General Skin Health
Minerals such as selenium, copper, and molybdenum are required cofactors for the maintenance of antioxidant defense systems in the skin, which means that these minerals are required to enable the biological activity of those enzymes which help maintain and repair skin.
Natural ingredients such as curcumin, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10, and superoxidase dismutase (SOD)-enriched melon extract stimulate the production of these antioxidants. Carotenoids — a group of fat-soluble compounds found in orange and red fruits and vegetables – also provide antioxidant protection within the skin.
Research studies have shown that:
- Selenium and vitamin E can reduce the number of acne lesions and improve skin visually.
- Lycopene, found in tomatoes, protects skin from UV light damage, as well as inflammation, immunity and oxidative stress within the skin.
- Coenzyme Q10 suppresses the UV radiation– induced inflammatory response in skin cells.
- Vitamin D helps healthy skin cell renewal and repair, and supports the skin’s immune system — neutralizing free radicals within the epidermal layers.
Photoprotective Nutrients For Skin
Photoprotection is a group of mechanisms that nature in its infinite wisdom has developed to minimize the damage the human body suffers when exposed to UV radiation. Specific foods keep these “mechanisms” properly functioning.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds that are widely distributed in plant-based foods, and possess substantial skin photoprotective benefits.
These foods are quickly assimilated and utilized by the body when eaten, and should be part of your daily diet.
Dietary sources of polyphenols include:
- Flavonols – onions, apples, citrus fruit
- Proanthocyanidins – caco beans, grape seeds
- Catechins – tea, red wine
- Anthocyanidins – berries and cherries
- Isoflavones – soy
A certain type of fern, Polypodium Leucotomos (“PL”), is a natural mixture of phytochemicals endowed with powerful antioxidant properties. Its short-term effects include inhibition of reactive oxygen species production induced by UV radiation and DNA damage.
In clinical studies, PL taken orally has been shown to:
- Block UV-induced skin photoxicity when taken orally.
- Reduce skin reddining induced by ultraviolet radiation.
- Blunt skin allergic responses to sun exposure.
- Reduce the sun-induced expression of COX-2, which drives inflammation and contributes to skin cancer growth, while it simultaneously increase the expression of a major DNA repair proteins. (Source 1, 2, 3)
Natural Ingredients to Restore Skin
Ceramides make up the lipid-rich protective layer within the epidermis, the first layer of the skin. Since ceramides prevent dehydrated “thin”, wrinkled and sagging skin, they are important to maintain.
The bad news is that ceramide concentrations decrease with age. The almost good news is that we can nourish them through certain foods; mainly rice bran, wheat flour and wheat germ oil.
I say “almost” because, although rice bran and wheat contain ceramides, they are not high quality foods in general. As you’ll quickly discover in, What’s Making Us Fat and Sick, high-glycemic foods such as grains spike blood glucose levels, retard insulin sensitivity and… well… make us “fat and sick”. Rather than chowing down on even more grains to boost your ceramides, stick to supplementation, as we’ll get into later.
Soy isoflavones appears to render antioxidant and DNA protective effects in skin. Soy protein peptides have favorably stimulated collagen and hyaluronic acid production within the dermis in vitro.
But, men, the reason soy can do this is because it promulgates estrogenic activity. As we covered above, the hormone estrogen (estradiol) helps combat aging skin, particularly in post-menopausal women, but males do not want to pump up their estrogen, unless it’s unusually low in relation to testosterone
Most soy products are made from GMO-produced soybeans. If you want to eat soy, my recommendation for both men and women is to eat sprouted or fermented soy, and to make it a side dish, not the main dish of your meals.
[Read Dr. Mark Hyman’s take on soy here.]
Topical Interventions to Combat Aging Skin
Until I started to do some research for this article, I had never heard of “cosmeceuticals”.
Introduced to the world in the 1980s, cosmeceuticals are topical products designed to provide cosmetic and therapeutic benefits aimed to combat aging skin.
Sunscreens are the most important cosmeceutical, and the retinoids in them (Vitamin-A related chemical compounds) have proven their safety and effectiveness in reducing photodamaged skin.
The three most common cosmeceuticals are:
- Exfoliating and whitening agents,
- Antioxidants, and
- Regenerating products (peptides, and stem cell-based skincare).
Alpha-hydroxy acids (“AHAs”) are also a topical intervention to combat aging skin, as they improve skin texture and reduce the signs of aging by promoting cell shedding in the outer layers of the epidermis, and by restoring hydration.
The most common ingredients used in AHAs’ formulations and peels include:
- Citric acid
- Glycolic acid
- Lactic acid
- Malic acid
- Pyruvic acid
- Tartaric acid
Cutting-Edge Topical Ingredients
Unless you’ve been reading up on topical ingredients that improve skin youthfulness and quality, you’re going to be surprised by the number of useful peptides, compounds and vegetable spheres that can do the job.
Let’s begin with peptide-based creams.
Collagen deterioration inside the skin causes protein fragments called “peptides”. Collagen-producing cells recognize these peptides and respond by increasing collagen production that repairs the damaged skin.
Over time (aka with advancing age), the body’s production of new collagen formation becomes both insufficient and inefficient.
Alas, researchers have discovered that applying these protein fragment peptides directly to the skin bolsters the natural deterioration in collagen turnover.
This is a breakthrough in skin-care technology whereby you can effectively “trick” collagen-producing cells into ramping up collagen production.
One effective peptide is called “palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3”. This synthetic amino-peptide complex effectively stimulates collagen synthesis by interacting with receptors that turn on genes responsible for cell proliferation and renewal. The result is a significant enhancement of collagen production and elastin within the extracellular matrix of the skin.
The increased production of collagen production complements the capacity of hyaluronic acid to volumize skin, thereby resulting in visibly reduce the depth, density, and number of wrinkles.
One particular active peptid is argireline (“acetyl hexapeptide-3”), a relatively new topical anti-wrinkle ingredient that reduces pre-existing wrinkle depth by downregulating muscle contraction.
This interferes with the neurotransmitters that makes muscles contract, thereby preventing the formation of unwanted lines and wrinkles, particularily around the eyes and forehead.
Matrixyl ® Synthe’ 6 ™
The breakdown of skin scaffolding is a major cause of wrinkles. Think of “skin scaffolding as a…
“extracellular matrix (ECM) analog to guide cell adhesion, growth, and differentiation to form skin-functional and structural tissue”. (Source)
A compound known as Matrixyl ® Synthe’ 6 ™ has been found to complete the maturation and stabilization of fibers, thereby stimulating the scaffolding of skin molecules.
In controlled studies, scientists have observed that frown lines and crow’s feet of participants were substantially reduced after two months of consistent topical Matrixyl application.
Matrixyl actively promotes the synthesis of six skin matrix constituents— collagen I, III, and IV, hyaluronic acid, fibronectin, and laminin. These skin matrix constituents are found in the lower epidermis, where cells communicate with each other and with the cells in the dermal layer.
Hylasome ® EG10
When skin ages or is damaged, it gets dry and results in fine lines and weakened cells. This can result in lipids in the skin’s fatty layer to crystallize, causing dull-looking and flaking skin.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural skin constituent, volumizing agent and a good moisturizer given its ability to capture water molecules, which reduces the visibility of lines.
Unsurprisingly, hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in several skincare applications, and those clever scientists have now made a new and improved version called Hylasome ® EG10.
Basically, Hylasome ® EG10 is a aqueous gel of cross-linked hyaluronic acid. This gel forms a thin film on the skin and continuously delivers the larger amount of water bound by this new compound.
When Rutgers University scientists tested this unique gel on human skin, they found that skin cells treated with Hylasome ® EG10 held six times more moisture in total, and five times more moisture in the stratum corneum (extreme outer) layer, than cells treated with hyaluronic acid.
This greater moisturizing effect was observed even 24 hours after application. Moreover, Hylasome ® EG10 exhibited an ability to combat oxidation and free radical attack, which can damage skin structure and cause wrinkles.
Vegetal Filling Spheres
Indentations and wrinkles in the skin results, in part, from deterioration of the skin matrix, combined with moisture loss. “Vegetal filling spheres” are new compounds that attack this problem from deep inside skin indentations.
Derived from wheat protein, vegetal filling spheres is a biopolymer known for its capacity to hydrate skin. In just an hour after application, a substantial decrease in total wrinkle surface and length can be measured.
Researchers found the “spheres” settle inside the wrinkle indentations deep within the lower epidermis. Once there, they acted like microscopic sponges, trapping moisture that would normally be lost through the skin surface.
The observed result was a physicochemical effect: the spheres expanded with moisture and physically plumped wrinkles— transforming the skin surface from wrinkled to smooth.
The plumping effect occurs immediately after application— and is long-lasting. There is also a durable increase in hydration of the middle and upper layers of the epidermis.
Skin cell proliferation and collagen synthesis both slow down as we age. One result is visible lines etched into our skin. As with other interventions presented here, the solution is to augment an already occurring, natural mechanism within our bodies.
In this case, the inorganic phosphates found in almost all cells inhibit this skin deterioration. Called “Poly P”, these phosphates promote tissue remodeling by interacting with skin cells at the dermal layer where fibroblasts— responsible for cell renewal— are produced. Scientists believe this interaction increases production of skin cells, which surface to replace old cells.
Poly P is also thought to increase the production of collagen. Boosting production of both collagen and dermal cells improves skin volume and tone, making Poly P a key compound in any modern skincare product.
In this article, we examined the importance of hormonal balance, nutrition and topical interventions to combat aging skin.
You can begin doing these three things to make your skin vibrant and healthy straight away:
- Get a blood test to determine your hormone levels via Life Extension Foundation blood tests (see below).
- Begin to add the minerals and plant polyphenols reviewed in this article, such as selenium, curcumin, onions, apples, citris fruit, caco beans, grape seeds, tea, berries and cherries.
- Use high quality sun screen and lotions that contain cosmeceuticals, alpha-hydroxy acids, argireline, and other peptides.
Next week in Part 3, I’ll dive into how to combat aging skin with specific supplements, many that are mostly unknown, cutting-edge topical and oral interventions to help us combat our (inevitably) aging skin.
Continue to Part 3 >>
Disclaimer and Safety Information
Joe Garma is not a medical doctor, and neither he nor the information in this article — or anywhere on this website — can or should replace the attention or advice of a physician or other qualified health care professional. Anyone who wishes to embark on any dietary, drug, exercise, or other lifestyle change intended to prevent or treat a specific disease or condition should first consult with and seek clearance from a physician or other qualified health care professional.
Pregnant women in particular should seek the advice of a physician before using any protocol listed on this website. The information and protocols described on this website are for adults only, unless otherwise specified. Product labels may contain important safety information and the most recent product information provided by the product manufacturers should be carefully reviewed prior to use to verify the dose, administration, and contraindications. National, state, and local laws may vary regarding the use and application of many of the treatments discussed.
The reader assumes the risk of any injuries. The authors and publishers, their affiliates and assigns are not liable for any injury and/or damage to persons arising from this protocol and expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from the use of the information container herein.
The information and protocols on this website raise many issues that are subject to change as new data emerge. No information or suggested protocol regimens can guarantee health benefits. Joe Garma has not performed independent verification of the data contained herein, and expressly disclaim responsibility for any error in literature.