Could seaweed slow down the effects of ageing? Aussie researchers seem to think so

Oct 01, 2023
This humble marine plant may hold the key to significantly boosting collagen levels in the skin and safeguarding it against the ravages of time. Source: Getty Images.

Scientists from Flinders University have seemingly unearthed the fountain of youth hidden in South Australian brown seaweed of all places.

This humble marine plant, abundant in the pristine waters of the region, holds the key to significantly boosting collagen levels in the skin and safeguarding it against the ravages of time.

As part of the Anti-skin glycation and collagen level stimulation of brown seaweed extracts and their compositional characteristics study,  researchers evaluated the anti-aging qualities of extracts from three South Australian seaweeds – Ecklonia radiataCystophora moniliformis, and Cystophora siliquosa – that were collected from freshly deposited beach-cast seaweeds in Rivoli Bay, Beachport, South Australia.

“We found that extracts from South Australian brown seaweed have huge potential to be used to help slow the effects of aging on our skin,” Professor Wei Zhang, College of Medicine and Public Health said regarding the findings.

“Collagen acts as a building block for bones, teeth, muscles, skin, joints and connective tissue, while elastin gives skin its elasticity and strength – and both these proteins are popularly promoted by the beauty industry as essential for the appearance of healthy skin.”

What makes this discovery truly groundbreaking is that extracts from South Australia’s brown seaweed not only stimulate collagen growth but also inhibit glycation – a process known to accelerate the deterioration of collagen and elastin.

“So far anti-glycation agents haven’t been strong enough to have a major impact on anti-aging, so our discovery is really exciting as we can see the potential to develop stronger anti-glycation extracts from brown seaweed,” Zhang explained.

South Australia proudly boasts a global record in seaweed diversity, harboring a staggering array of up to 1,500 documented species. Remarkably, nearly 62 per cent of these seaweed species are found exclusively within the region’s boundaries.

“Seaweed is a great source of multiple bioactive ingredients with potential applications in natural health and skincare products,” Zhang said.

“Our findings will help to fill knowledge gaps and sustainably develop brown seaweed advancement in topical and supplement skincare products. A patent has been filed and the team is looking for investors and industry partners to collaborate for further commercialisation.”

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