We have a strong interest in managing the aging of the skin considering it is the most visible and exposed organ. Not only is our skin the most vulnerable to environmental stressors but it is the organ we observe the changes of daily. The skin, like any other organ in the human body, is susceptible to aging, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Intrinsic & Extrinsic Aging
There are two main types of aging that apply to the skin and body as a whole: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic aging refers to the more or less natural process of aging and physiological changes that occur with time. Examples being the general slowing of the metabolism and inefficient energy production otherwise necessary for skin regeneration.
Extrinsic aging refers to epigenetic or environmental factors that can negatively affect the physiology, contributing to aging. Some examples are chronic sun exposure, environmental toxins, and air pollution.
Of the two, the skin is perhaps the most vulnerable to the extrinsic factors that accelerate aging. In fact, the quality of one's environment and extrinsic stressors can directly accelerate the intrinsic aging of the skin by increasing oxidative damage via free radicals.
At the end of the day, it is oxidative stress that ages the skin. The skin is made up of cells, and reactive oxygen species or free radicals can steal electrons from the cells. This weakens the cell membrane leading to cellular damage and skin aging.
Intrinsically speaking, the stress of aging results in an accumulation of reactive oxygen species and a decrease in antioxidant capacity. This leads to increased oxidative stress that results in organ and tissue damage.
For example, if your skin is regularly exposed to environmental toxins like radiation, smoke, and other pollutants, these substances will increase the number of free radicals, causing accelerated skin aging. 1
Ultimately, an imbalance of reactive oxygen species to antioxidants can directly decrease collagen synthesis and stimulate collagen breakdown leading to wrinkles. 2
With this in mind, the real secret to slowing both intrinsic and extrinsic skin aging to keep skin cells strong and resilient against free radicals. This is where powerful antioxidants like methylene blue come into the picture. 3
What is Methylene Blue?
Methylene blue is a century-old drug that was first produced in 1876. It was originally used as clinical medicine to treat various illnesses including malaria, septic shock, cancer chemotherapy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Methylene blue is what is known as a diaminophenothiazine with a low redox potential. This property makes it capable of facilitating electron transport in the mitochondria, which increases ATP production while reducing mitochondrial superoxide production.
Anti-Aging Benefits of Methylene Blue
In other words, it promotes mitochondrial function and the production of ATP, which is essential for the health of every cell. Something else wonderful about methylene blue is that it is both water and organic soluble, making it highly permeable in cell membranes. It enters the cell at the level of mitochondria, lysosomes and the nucleus with ease. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Because of its pro-mitochondrial effect, methylene blue can be beneficial for all aspects of cellular health, but it is specifically recognized for its anti-aging effects on the skin. 11, 12, 13
According to various studies, methylene blue has been found to increase cellular lifespan, improve cell proliferation and reduce biomarkers of physiological aging in skin cells. 14 It has also been found to extend the lifespan of female mice by 6% when added to food. 15
Additional studies have found that through its antioxidant or free radical scavenging effects, it can successfully treat many signs of skin aging. These include wrinkles, pigmentation, and weakened wound healing ability.
The Bottom Line
Altogether, the numerous studies and known physiological mechanisms of methylene blue suggest that it has great potential for skin care. The topical application of it in skin care is a well-accepted therapy that can positively modulate gene expression to delay skin aging.
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