Think you have heard everything there is to know about inflammation? It is true that conjecture, pop science and emerging research on inflammation seem ubiquitous. There are more than 700,000 publications on inflammation dating back to 1791, but even before these publications, the ancient Greeks had identified certain types of inflammatory conditions. There are very few other health-related subjects that have been studied for such a broad spectrum of health conditions and span such an extended period of history.
The good, the bad, the ugly
We now understand inflammation can be both a normal, protective, self-limiting process and an aberrant, destructive, vicious cycle. Inflammation is a complex cascade of interactions that can lead to either injury or repair. Inflammation that is not properly targeted and contained can result in a variety of age-related and chronic illnesses. It is well established that even low levels of long-term inflammation are linked to metabolic, joint and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, an unbalanced immune response has a negative impact on brain, eye and gut health.1
Although research on inflammation has been ongoing for more than 200 years, we are still discovering the intricacies of this sophisticated alarm and response system.2 New research is expanding our opportunities for meaningful intervention and modulation of the inflammatory process. Since some inflammation is appropriate, mediating the inflammatory response is about achieving balance and controlling the upstream “checkpoints” that govern the flow of messenger molecules.3 The bottom line is that being in a non-inflammatory state is not the lack of inflammatory stimulus, but the positive control of gene expression that modulates both pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules.
Inflammatory support ingredients
Beyond commoditized antioxidant ingredients, a new wave of proprietary ingredients—with more targeted mechanisms of action and novel health benefits—is emerging on the market.4 Their health applications range from beauty within, exercise recovery, vision health, anti-aging, normal allergic response, healthy metabolism and many more. Diets high in phytonutrients like polyphenolic compounds have been linked to a lower risk of many degenerative and chronic diseases.5,6
Novel ingredients are more targeted than general antioxidants and include specialized polyphenol extracts from Aloysia citriodora leaf or lemon verbena, such as in Recoverben (from Vital Solutions). This patented extract has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects related to the inhibition of two cyclooxygenase (COX) isozymes, ovine COX-1 isozyme and human recombinant COX-2 isozyme. Furthermore, it was shown in a randomized, placebo controlled, clinical study of healthy, moderately active adults to significantly reduce muscle damage and the loss of strength due to exercise. Additionally, these same mechanisms, which strengthen the antioxidative defense system and counteract oxidative stress, may also slow or protect subjects from age-related muscle loss.7
Environmental and lifestyle impacts on inflammation
Another promising application for novel anti-inflammatory compounds is combating extrinsic aging, driven primarily by environmental and lifestyle inputs, like smoking, stress, diet, UV exposure and pollution. While the beauty and anti-aging market has historically been dominated by topical preparations, research is demonstrating the powerful impact of mediating the mechanisms that slow the aging process and enhance beauty parameters from within or via oral dosage forms.
SkinAx² (from Seppic) has been shown in clinical trials to improve skin radiance, preserve elasticity and suppleness and decrease dark circles. SkinAx² is a low dose, patent-pending formulation containing grape seed extract, especially rich in flavanol monomers, and a melon concentrate that provides both primary and secondary antioxidant activity to improve skin vascularization and protect elastin and collagen fibers.8
Even areas with previously limited opportunities to provide natural, meaningful options for consumers are being better elucidated by research on their underlying inflammatory mechanisms. For instance, stabilizing the cellular membrane of mast and basophil cells may inhibit the early release of histamine, which in turn positively influences a healthy response to allergens and pathogens.
Bionap’s proprietary combination of five high polyphenol extracts, Pantescal, has been shown in clinical study to act by these mechanisms to reduce important inflammatory markers and normalize allergic response.9,10
Many more exciting ingredients, including proprietary extracts for specific polyphenols, are available or soon to be available for a widening span of indications, from reducing or balancing the body’s natural inflammatory response. As we continue to discover more about the physiological tapestry that is inflammation, we are also finding nature already has many chemistries that are potent modulators of this critical process.
Jennifer Cooper has spent over 25 years in consumer health care and is currently the chief scientific officer at Savant Science. She has held senior R&D and quality positions in OTC and supplement companies in the U.S. and EU. Jennifer has directed the development of supplements, over-the-counter drugs, homeopathics, functional foods, traditional herbal medicines, medical devices and dermocosmetics. She has developed and brought to market over 300 new products in more than 20 different countries.
1 Soory M. “Nutritional Antioxidants and Their Applications in Cardiometabolic Diseases.” Infect Disord Drug Targets. 2012;12(5):388-401.
2 Leyva-Jiménez FJ et al. “Functional Ingredients based on Nutritional Phenolics. A Case Study against Inflammation: Lippia Genus.” Nutrients. 2019:11(7):1646.
3 Nathan C. “Points of control in inflammation.” Nature. 2002;420:846–852.
4 Attaq A et al. “Raging the War Against Inflammation With Natural Products.” Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:976.
5 Zhang H, Tsau R. “Dietary polyphenols, oxidative stress and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.” Curr Opin Food Sci. 2016;8:33-42.
6 Hussain T et al. “Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: What Polyphenols Can Do for Us?” Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;doi:10.1155.
7 Buchwald-Werner S et al. “Effects of lemon verbena extract (Recoverben) supplementation on muscle strength and recovery after exhaustive exercise: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15:5.
8 Dumoulin M, Gaudout D, Lemaire B. “Clinical effects of an oral supplement rich in antioxidants on skin radiance in women.” Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016;9:315-324.
9 Caruso M et al. “Effects of a new nutraceutical ingredient on allergen-induced sulphidoleukotrienes production and CD63 expression in allergic subjects.” Int Immunopharmacol. 2008;8(13-14):1781-1786.
10 Trombetta D et al. “Antiallergic and antihistaminic effect of two extracts of Capparis spinosa L. flowering buds.” Phytother Res. 2015:19(1):29-33.