Maple Leaves Could Hold The Secret To Anti-aging, Research Suggests

Maple leaves could one day help people hold onto youthful skin as they age, new research suggests.

University of Rhode Island researchers found that people might one day be able to stop wrinkles from forming by applying a topical cream made from maple leaves. The researchers presented their results on Monday in Boston at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Wrinkles form as part of the natural aging process when the enzyme elastase breaks down elastin, which maintains skin elasticity. This can also happen with exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, Navindra Seeram, principal investigator of the experiment from the University of Rhode Island, told Newsweek.

A cure for aging? Clinical trials will begin in humans

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The scientist found that the maple plant extract could block elastase activity in a test tube. If proven effective in humans, this could one day slow the formation of crows feet and worry lines, but it is too early to say for sure how humans will react to such treatment, Seeram cautioned.

"There is no human clinical data yet to support what we saw," he said.

Still, the research is promising. Seeram said that previous findings showed that chemical compounds in maple extract, known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs), prevent skin inflammation and lighten age spots.

"You could imagine that these extracts might tighten up human skin like a plant-based Botox, though they would be a topical application, not an injected toxin," Seeram said.

The researchers are patenting a formula called Maplifa, pronounced "mape-LEAF-uh," that they hope to eventually market as cosmetics or dietary supplements, which they hope could help the economy of those who farm maple trees.

"Many botanical ingredients traditionally come from China, India and the Mediterranean, but the sugar maple and the red maple only grow in eastern North America," Seeram said.

Clinical trials in humans could begin in a year. It's too early to tell when consumer products will be available.