What is Collagen?
Among all the proteins found in our bodies, collagen is the most common one. Collagen may be regarded as the building block of our bodies, as it is found throughout our skeleton ranging from bones, ligaments, and tendons.
It is collagen that helps our skin maintain its strength and elasticity while continuously replenishing the dead skin cells with new ones. In other words, it can be regarded as the glue which holds our bodies together.
What are the signs of collagen deficiency?
The first and foremost signs of collagen deficiency are visible in the dense connective tissue of the body. Aside from the skeletal elements, collagen depletion signs are also clearly visible in the blood vessels.
The generalized symptoms include general body fatigue due to weak muscle and bone structure and joint pain after a moderate excursion.
The deficiency also affects the skin as it becomes increasingly inelastic. Along with these symptoms, the subject may also experience skin rash and intermittent fevers.
The best possible prophylaxis against collagen deficiency is maintaining a diet that consists of essential herbs that boost collagen production in our bodies.
One of the interesting facts about collagen in human bodies is that it is associated with a domino effect, i.e., the more we boost the collagen production in our bodies, the more collagen our bodies can produce and maintain, thereby strengthening the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments throughout our bodies.
Fighting Collagen Deficiency
There are two ways to avoid deficiency of collagen. One relies on conventional pharmaceutical therapy using suitable drugs to boost collagen production in the body. However, like with any pharmaceutical drug, this treatment is susceptible to myriads of side effects.
On the other hand, boosting the natural collagen production in the body using natural herbs is preferred, owing to its little to no side effects.
Our bodies react to almost any artificial chemical we put into them, thereby taking effective measures to reduce the resultant effects. This is not the case with using natural herbs.
The biggest advantage in using herbs to strengthen the body naturally is the fascinating energetic and protein-boosting properties these herbs carry along with them.
The biggest reason behind recurring bone and tendon fractures is collagen deficiency. These collagen-boosting herbs that are naturally high in minerals and amino acids, which help the body increase bone and tissue strength, can efficiently provide an effective strategy against fighting weak skeletal formations.
Herbs that Boost Collagen Production
The naturally occurring herbs that help fight skeletal weaknesses due to collagen deficiency carry two important properties. First, these herbs are naturally astringent – that means they help cleanse the skin.Astringent herbs serve to tighten the pores in the skin, thus helping to dry out excess oil.
Another important property of these herbs is that they are demulcent – meaning that they help form a loose, soothing film over the inflamed mucous membranes of the body. This provides relief from minor pains due to inflamed membranes and tissues.
Panax ginseng, more widely known as ginseng, is a widely used herb throughout Asia for centuries. It is an oval-shaped root herb that has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Ginseng also has shown efficacy in lowering blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. However, the most highlighted effect of using Ginseng is its ability to strengthen skeletal elements through collagen improvement.
There are different types of ginseng based on the type of production process. They include fresh ginseng, red ginseng, and white ginseng. Another type is known as 'sun ginseng,' prepared by steaming fresh and undried ginseng roots at temperatures higher than 100 degrees Celsius.
The production process of sun ginseng increases the concentration of less polar ginsenosides (chemicals found in ginseng), thereby resulting in increased herb efficacy.
Independent research published on PubMed investigated the role of sun ginseng in boosting collagen levels. Collagen is an important component of the extracellular matrix, so it is susceptible to enzymes that degrade the extracellular matrix.
These enzymes include Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs). This is a whole family of enzymes having different functions in the breakdown process of the extracellular matrix. Matrix Metalloproteinase -1 (MMP-1), also known as collagenase-1, is secreted from the fibroblasts. As the name collagenase-1 indicates, this enzyme is responsible for initiating fibrillar collagen molecules' degradation process.
The MMPs are inhibited by naturally occurring factors in the body known as tissue inhibitors of MMPs, or simply TIMPs. A good balance between MMPs and TIMPs is necessary to maintain the homeostasis between tissue remodeling and degradation.
However, due to aging or reasons unknown, a reduction in the levels of TIMPs can cause overactivity of MMPs. This causes collagen degradation faster than it can be replenished, leading to different symptoms such as skin inelasticity, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
In this research, experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of sun ginseng on the TIMP-1/MMP-1 ratio. A TIMP-1 immunoassay kit to measure the levels of TIMP-1 was used after administering sun ginseng. It was observed that sun ginseng had a marked effect on the cells that secreted TIMP factors. Depending on the dose, it was observed that the cell secretion of the TIMP-1 factor was enhanced by up to 50 percent as compared to the cells not treated with sun ginseng.
Sun ginseng also had a marked effect on the levels of ECM degrading enzymes such as MMP-1. Sun ginseng had a double way effect in boosting collagen naturally without any side effects; it simultaneously reduced the expression and secretion of MMP-1 ECM degrading enzyme and increasing TIMP-1 levels, which served to inhibit the degrading enzymes in the extracellular matrix.
Coriandrum sativum, more commonly known as cilantro or coriander leaf, is an annual herb that has been grown all over the world in temperate climates of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Both the leaves and seeds of coriander find culinary uses. The leaves can be used for flavoring prepared foods, while the seeds can be used as spices.
The prime chemicals in coriander seeds are essential oils and a class of lipids called terpenoids. These terpenoids include linalool, which was isolated from coriander seeds.
Aside from essential oils and terpenoids, chemicals such as caffeic acid and glycosides are also found in coriander leaves.
Coriander has been found to enhance skin health, particularly by stopping the effects of collagen degrading enzymes such as collagenases. Premature aging of the skin is called photoaging.
Photoaging is caused by excessive exposure to sun rays, including dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays. The UV rays induce the matrix metalloproteinases, including MMP-1, also known as collagenase. These enzymes then break the extracellular matrix down, which includes collagen and other ECM proteins.
Photoaging exerts marked effects on the skin. Due to photoaging, the degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins occurs. These proteins also include type I collagen along with others such as proteoglycans, elastin, and fibronectin.
The effects of these proteins' degradation are characterized by skin inelasticity due to degraded collagen, wrinkled skin with thickness in specific patterns along with roughness, and altered pigmentation in different areas of the body.
Research conducted by professionals at Kyung Hee University in Korea examined the effects of coriander on photoaging. They used chemicals extracted from coriander using ethanol. The effects of these extracts were then studied on fibroblasts obtained from human sources.
Fibroblasts are cells responsible for secreting collagen, thereby playing an effective role in maintaining dermal health. They also play an important role in wound healing.
In this clinical study, the effects of chemicals extracted from coriander leaves and seeds using ethanol were examined on procollagen type I and MMP-1 secretion expression.
Procollagen type 1 is the precursor of type 1 collagen that is found in the skin. This precursor is then modified to produce the existing collagen. The effects were studied by using cultured human skin fibroblasts in the laboratory.
It was found that coriander extracts dose-dependently affected the secretion of procollagen type 1 from these cultured cells. It was found that at higher doses, the extracts strongly increased the expression of procollagen type 1 from these cultured fibroblasts, thereby proving the positive effects of coriander in boosting collagen production naturally in the body.
Horsetail, bearing the scientific name Equisetum arvense, is one of the oldest plants on our planet. The advantages of this plant lie in its stems and shoots. They are a rich, natural source of many minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other valuable nutrients.
A specific highlight of horsetail is the high silica content it contains. This attribute enables the plant to be used widely for medicinal purposes, as the high silica content it contains can be easily absorbed and used by our bodies.
Research published in PubMed has found the silicon mechanism by which it affects collagen production in the body. The study conducted to examine the effects of silica on skin found that silicon carries a large significance for the natural and optimal collagen synthesis in the skin.
Silicon is also found to activate the hydroxylation enzymes, which play an important role in forming meshed collagen networks in the skin, thereby improving the strength, elasticity, and overall pigmentation of the skin.
Aside from these effects, the silica found in horsetail is also associated with the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans, which are the integral parts of the extracellular matrix in the body. Therefore, this plant surely does have benefits in boosting the natural production of collagen in our bodies.
Gynostemma, or more commonly known as "The Immortality Herb," is a herbaceous vine. The name immortality herb comes from ancient Chinese origins, where people who regularly drank gynostemma tea were observed to live longer than the others.
Gynostemma is known to contain a powerful antioxidant called Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). This enzyme acts to counter the effects of harmful free radicals that enter our bodies or are produced endogenously through various chemical reactions occurring in the body.
Superoxide dismutase is produced naturally in our bodies. As the person ages, the levels of this enzyme decline gradually. Therefore, the harmful effects of free radicals such as aged skin, wrinkles, altered pigmentation, joint pain, etc., start becoming visible as these radicals slowly take a toll on the body's collagen networks.
The superoxide dismutase in gynostemma stabilizes the whole collagen network in the body while simultaneously increasing the elastin levels that keep the skin looking healthy and young.
Moreover, contrary to artificially produced medications, gynostemma is considered extremely safe and has no known toxigenic or other side effects.
Urtica dioica, also known as common nettle, is a herbaceous flowering plant. This herb has been used by people worldwide as a potent multivitamin for a long time. Due to the wide range of multivitamins contained in it, such as vitamin A, B1, B5, C, D, and E, this herb has also been used for hair due to its antioxidant properties care since ancient times.
Nettles, due to their high silica and calcium content, are known to help the body boost its collagen receptors. This herb also prevents the effects of the body's endocrine system on the collagen receptors, thereby boosting the overall collagen uptake in the body.
Nettle can be used with horsetail to prevent joint pain, bone disorders, enhance skin health, and hair care due to these herbs' high silica content.
Calendula officinalis, commonly known as the pot marigold, is a very widely occurring flowering plant. The anti-bacterial effects of calendula are well established over centuries of usage. However, modern research indicates that this flowering plant can also help the body boost its collagen levels naturally.
The chemicals in calendula have been found to inhibit the collagen degrading enzymes in the body, which include various classes of matrix metalloproteinases.
The research found that the use of calendula inhibits not only the activity of MMP-2 (a collagen degrading enzyme) and decreases HGF-mediated collagen degradation in the body. This helps the body boost its collagen naturally, thereby maintaining the radiant glow of the skin.
The natural treatment bestowed upon us by these herbs is a blessing. These herbs provide a safe way of keeping the bones, muscles, and tendons healthy while simultaneously granting the skin a radiant glow by boosting the collagen levels naturally in our bodies.