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Plants and the chemicals they make. Why I love apocynin, tonic for our skin stem cells. You will love it too!

Updated 10/8/2019: SAS line with apocynin is now available!

Let me tell you all the reasons why I love apocynin.

First of all, I like it because it is old. Apocynin is as old as the plants that make it, and they are many of them. Even its  health promoting properties have been known for quite a while. Old means that we know more of its tricks, its benefits and that it is OK for humans to use it.

Second, I like it because it has anti-inflammatory activity. Extracts containing apocynin have been used for centuries to help with asthma and heart problems.

Purified by Schmiedeberg in 1883 from Canadian hemp, its chemical structure has been known since 1891 when it was synthesized by Otto. That’s a long time!

It smells nice, faintly like vanilla (apocynin is one of the many chemicals in the natural vanilla extract we love to have in our cakes).

Apocynin is the dream of the phytochemist/biochemist/skin care specialist. It has a beautiful mechanism of action and it promotes the health of our skin (and other tissues). How?

Let me tell you how it will benefit your skin and your hair.

It inhibits an enzyme, NADPH oxidase, that has the unfortunate effect of increasing oxidative stress by producing ROS* (reactive oxygen species). Use apocynin and decrease oxidative stress, and prolong the life of your valuable telomeres.

Apocynin promotes the synthesis of a protein, collagen 17, crucial for the anchoring of newly formed stem cells, and its end effect will be to accelerate healing, delay aging and promote skin health. When it comes to hair,  stem cells that make collagen 17 will keep producing hair, rather than becoming just one more skin cell (and there goes your hair!) that is shed before its time. We can expect that apocynin, by promoting collagen 17, will also prevent hair loss; and we know that it should decrease oxidative stress and slow hair greying.

One of the most significant research papers to come out in recent years is the one by Liu et al. (2019), named “Stem cell competition orchestrates skin homeostasis and ageing”. In this paper, the authors show, by using a variety of methods (another plus) that the presence of a “good” collagen 17 protein is very important for the chances of stem cells when it comes to succeeding in the competition for space and survival. A cell that is expressing collagen 17 will multiply and prosper, and one that does not express this protein will divide in the wrong way and disappear from our skin rapidly. Why does apocynin give an advantage in this tough competition? It promotes the synthesis of collagen 17 and by doing this it increases the survival  of the mother cells derived from your stem cells, preventing skin thinning and  aging.

But apocynin  does even more: it also decreases inflammation, an enemy of our skin and hair, by decreasing oxidative stress through the inhibition of NADP(H) oxidase and oxidative stress. If you have to face a polluted environment when you are stuck in traffic, apocynin will help your SAS ROS* terminator to protect you. Because telomeres shortening is accelerated by oxidative stress, apocynin and ROS BioNet will act in concert to extend the life of your stem cells and the daughter cells they produce.

So, what are we waiting to use apocynin on our skin and hair? At Skin Actives, we already have it in hand and are selling seven products with it.

Excited? You should be!


Liu et al (2019)  Stem cell competition orchestrates skin homeostasis and ageing, Nature, 568:1-7.

Lafeber, FPJG; Beukelman, CJ; van den Worm, E; et al.(1999)  Apocynin, a plant-derived, cartilage-saving drug, might be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis . Rheumatology, 38 : 1088-1093


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