Scientists See Anti-Aging Potential in This Invasive Weed



Researchers have found that the cocklebur plant may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components. These components may help protect the skin or even help increase collagen production.

The plant also contains a toxic compound so researchers say more studies will be needed to see if the plant can be beneficial overall.

Research presented on Tuesday reports that the fruit of the cocklebur plant – considered by many to be a weed – might have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components that could be used to protect skin.

The study also found that the spiky plant could influence the production of collagen, a protein helping skin elasticity, and preventing wrinkles.

Researchers from Myongji University in South Korea say compounds in the plant’s fruit reduced damage from UVB exposure and sped healing in tests using cells and tissues.

The study’s findings were presented March 25-28 at Discover BMB, the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in Seattle. The results of this study have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“We found that cocklebur fruit has the potential to protect the skin and help enhance production of collagen,” said Eunsu Song, a doctoral candidate who did the research with Myongji professsor Jinah Hwang, in a statement.“In this regard, it could be an attractive ingredient for creams or other cosmetic forms,” Song said. “It will likely show a synergistic effect if it is mixed with other effective compounds, such as hyaluronic acid or retinoic acid, against aging.” What is the cocklebur? Cocklebur is a plant native to China, Central Asia, and Southern Europe that eventually spread worldwide. It’s often found in moist or sandy areas such as riverbanks and roadside ditches. Its distinctive fruit is covered in stiff husks and burrs, which people have used for centuries in medicines for headache, stuffy nose, skin pigmentation disorders, and tuberculosis-related illness. In recent years, scientists have explored its possible use in treatments for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. The authors of the new study say their work is the first examining the fruit’s abilities as a skin protectant and wound-healing agent.