According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, arctium lappa fruit extract helps protect against chronic tissue inflammation and stimulates collagen synthesis:

"...Our data show that topical treatment with an A. lappa fruit extract offers an effective skin care regimen for mature skin. Matrix metabolism is significantly stimulated in vivo and wrinkles are visibly reduced. Together with our finding of reduced inflammatory markers following Arctiin treatment, we hypothesize that Arctiin counteracts the chronic inflammation in aging skin offering the first cosmetic treatment option that targets these subclinical processes in aging skin."

Interesting, wouldn't you say? I first came across this plant in a sushi roll, listed as burdock — a root vegetable.

According to the NIH, traditional uses target such diverse ailments as: abscesses, acne, arthritis, back pain, bacterial infections, boils, burns, canker sores, dandruff, detoxification, eczema, fungal infections, gout, hair loss, hemorrhoids, HIV, hives, ichthyosis (skin disorder), inflammation, psoriasis, ringworm, scurvy, seborrhea (over-activity of sebaceous skin glands), ulcers, urinary tract infections, venereal diseases, warts, wound healing and even cancer (among others).

Most research shows, however, that burdock is primarily used for its anti-scorbutic (scurvy) properties and is used to treat any number of ailments that come about from a deficiency of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Nevertheless, it looks like its anti-inflammation properties are gaining in popularity.

As written about earlier in my post, Is chronic inflammation behind skin aging?, 'inflamm-aging' theorists hypothesize that the chronic damage caused by inflammation is the primary culprit behind dermal elasticity loss and the wrinkled appearance of aging skin.

In this study, researchers reported that in vitro applications 1) inhibited the release of TNF-alpha and IL-6 (two cytokines actively involved in the inflammatory response), and 2) significantly increased collagen neogenesis (tissue regeneration).

What's more, in vivo tests revealed that a 1.2 percent burdock fruit extract formulation applied twice daily to the forearm over a 12 week period resulted in a 1.3 increased fold of procollagen content plus increased hyaluronan levels. In addition, when applied to the face, facial wrinkles were significantly reduced. (For more on this study...)

I've been seeing this ingredient turn up in a number of different cosmetic preparations, most notably in Orovo's product line, which I am hoping to review in the coming months. It seems like there's some potential to this ingredient, although it should be noted that those of you with allergies to the asteraceae/compositae family (which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies) may be prone to skin irritation and so should exercise the appropriate caution.

Readers: take a quick look at the ingredient lists on the back of a few of your products. Is burdock listed there? I'd be interested in finding out a few more formulas that are using this ingredient. Let me know, and if you like the product.