Exploring natural Mediterranean fruit extracts to tackle the health challenges of ageing
Inspired by anti-ageing benefits of the Mediterranean diet, natural extracts of olive, pomegranate, fig and artichoke may address age-related health and cosmetic issues
Euromed: Pharmaceutical background
Euromed was founded in 1971 by the German pharmaceutical group Madaus, with the aim of supplying the best quality materials for their leading phytopharmaceutical products: the supply chain was integrated and verticalized. Since then, Euromed (Dermapharm Holding SE) has constantly improved to provide premium standardized botanical extracts with full traceability, identity, purity, safety and efficacy. The recently inaugurated Research & Innovation Center in Barcelona bolsters Euromed established leading position in producing premium botanical extracts.
Evidence-based health benefits
Commitment to provide evidence-based health benefits is reflected in multiple scientific studies, completed, ongoing and planned, in collaboration with prestigious organizations.
Most Euromed extracts have been extensively clinically tested, and international researchers are regularly requesting samples of our pharmaceutical-grade extracts.
A clinical study conducted at the University of Sydney evaluated the efficacy of Euromed ABAlife fig fruit extract on glucose metabolism parameters, indicating efficacy in reducing post-prandial glucose and insulin responses in healthy subjects1.
In 2019, two academic studies with Euromed flagship fruit extracts Pomanox and Mediteanox were published in the peer reviewed open-access journal Nutrients, showing impressive potential to support sport performance and healthy ageing2,3.
The healthy ageing challenge
Preparing for a longer, healthier life is particularly relevant as consumers prioritize health and wellness. Age is the major risk factor for CVD (cardiovascular disease). This is attributable, in part, to the development of vascular endothelial dysfunction (ED) and to high blood pressure. Hyperglycemia, associated with insulin resistance, also tends to increase with age, leading to several health issues. An altered gut-microbiota profile may have a negative impact on healthy ageing as well.
Inspired by the Mediterranean diet’s (MD) documented anti-ageing properties, Euromed has expanded its well-known portfolio of medicinal plants extracts to include Mediterranean natural fruit extracts (from olive, pomegranate, fig, artichoke) with high purity and potency, for healthy ageing and to tackle the issues mentioned above.
Fruits and vegetables
Plant-based foods as in the MD, promote better health, support longevity, healthier skin and hair, better cognitive functions, lower risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes and obesity4. Research indicates that polyphenols play a major role in the protective effects conferred by plant-derived foods and beverages5.
High dosages of polyphenols are essential to achieve significant health effects, but their inconsistent bioavailability in different commercial products, and food processing, confound the estimation of the amounts of food sources required. Besides, the calories associated with high intake of fruits may not be suitable for everyone.
While not substituting a healthy diet and lifestyle, identification, extraction and investigation of the most promising MD phytochemical compounds, and their preparation in standardized and practical formats, may offer significant healthy-ageing benefits.
Polyphenols and ageing
Senescent (ageing) cells are characterised by the production of inflammatory mediators, likely accelerating ageing and onset of age-related diseases (ARDs). Many dietary compounds, including polyphenols, can assist in the complex ageing process as they possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and have diverse effects on the mechanisms underlying gut health, skin ageing, diabetes and CVD. In-vitro and in-vivo studies have suggested that phenolic compounds from olives and pomegranates protect cells from ageing by modulating the activation of the major pro-inflammatory pathways, in addition to other biological activities6,7.
Health-promoting properties of pomegranate and olive extracts Pomanox and Mediteanox have been recently investigated: 67 middle-aged and seemingly healthy adults were administered Mediteanox and Pomanox or a placebo for 8 weeks. The combined extracts exerted healthy blood flow supporting effects by improving endothelial function, blood pressure and levels of circulating oxidized low-density lipoprotein (OxLDL), especially in subjects whose conditions fluctuated from the norm3. These results suggest interesting similarities with data from Mediterranean diet studies8. Pomanox and Mediteanox patented manufacturing process with a water-only extraction technology, the Pure-Hydro Process, avoids chemical solvents, risk of toxins and residual contaminants, protecting consumers’ health and the environment.
Olive oil is accountable for most of the MD’s beneficial effects and its consumption is associated with better cardiovascular health. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed olives’ hydroxytyrosol (HT) has beneficial cardiovascular properties9. Mediteanox provides significant healthy ageing effects as it delivers up to 40% of the powerful antioxidant HT. The ORAC coefficient of HT is 40,000 μmolTE /g, ten times higher than of green tea, and twice as high as that of coenzyme Q10. Published and proprietary studies indicate multiple rejuvenating properties3. The production process and health applications in functional foods, oils and dietary supplements, are patent protected.
Punicalagins are the main phenolic compounds in pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) husk. Taken orally, they release ellagic acid. Punicalagins partially pass to plasma and reach the colon where they are metabolized by the gut microbiota to yield urolithins A and B, powerful anti-inflammatory compounds with high bioavailability. Pomanox has a phenolic profile comparable to that of pomegranate juice, but more concentrated and without the juice calories. Concentrated formats are standardized for punicalagins content (up to 30%), available as organic certified - and supported by toxicological, pre-clinical and clinical studies.
Health-promoting effects of Pomanox are corroborated by eight published studies2,3,10-15 and several proprietary reports, suggesting multiple properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, cardiovascular support, sport performance, prebiotic, antimicrobial, mood and cognition, cosmetic.
Normalization of blood pressure (BP) is reported in five studies12-16. Pomanox improvement of the endothelium, the inner layer of the arteries, is the key: Pomanox activates the Akt/endothelial nitric oxide-synthase pathway and counteracts vascular inflammation and oxidative damage as observed in endothelial dysfunction (ED)10. ED is greatly underdiagnosed in the general ageing population, but plays a major role in early stages of circulatory problems, leading to health and cosmetic issues related to poor blood circulation.
Pomegranate and skin ageing
Figure 1: Studies indicating modulation of BP by Pomanox
Oxidative stress and inflammation are closely related to pathophysiological processes involved with ageing, such as skin and other connective tissues - progressive deterioration. Excess production of free radicals and reduced antioxidant activity significantly contribute to accelerated chronological ageing. Pomegranate helps the regeneration of cells in the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin, alleviates hyperpigmentation and blotchiness and extends the life of fibroblasts producing collagen and elastin, which tightens the skin and alleviates wrinkle formation. It has also the capacity to protect the skin from sunburn.
In vitro and in-vivo studies17,18 with pomegranate extracts support the use of pomegranate polyphenols in topical and oral cosmetic applications and indicate three major positive effects on skin health:
Stimulation of type I procollagen synthesis by dermal fibroblasts and of hyaluronic acid synthesis
Protection against UVB-induced photoageing
Inhibited expression and activities of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), of inflammatory enzymes, as well as hyaluronidase, elastase, collagenase, tyrosinase enzymes, and reduction of melanin production.
The pathogenesis of skin photoageing induced by solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) involves reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated inflammation, keratinocyte apoptosis, degradation of matrix macromolecules by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), protein oxidation and DNA damage. If not repaired, DNA damage leads to skin ageing, or photoageing, characterized by wrinkling and hyperpigmentation. Pomanox administration demonstrated protection from DNA-oxidative damage and significantly higher antioxidant activity against LDL oxidation as compared to placebo10. Recent animal studies with a pomegranate juice concentrated powder suggest protective effects against UVB-induced photoageing19,20. A reported skin brightening effect appears related to tyrosinase inhibition by punicalagins, with anti-melanogenesis (skin whitening) properties21.
Pomegranate and hair health
Hair has a connective tissue component, and hair health is related to the appropriate function of hair follicles, requiring endothelial capillary microcirculation delivery of nutrients to scalp and oxidative - inflammatory homeostasis.
A clinical study prepared for publication indicated that Pomanox may promote hair care and hair growth:
✓ Improved test score in the pull test
✓ Increased hair density and thickness
✓ Increased the ratio of hair in the anagen / telogen phase (anagen = growth phase, telogen = fall phase)
✓ Improved hair growth speed
Ageing, cognition and mood
Brain ageing is the result of several factors, such as inflammation, oxidation, genetic make-up and, loss of synaptic functions. Natural compounds with pleiotropic activity such as pomegranate’s punicalagins can target this multifactorial etiology.
Urolithins appear to be capable to cross the blood brain barrier, exerting neuroprotective functions. Additionally, pomegranate’s polyphenols may increase cerebral blood flow, as a result of enhanced endothelial function and increased bioavailability of nitric oxide10.
Several clinical studies indicate Pomanox may assist mood and general well-being, as it improved average overall PANAS-X stress and mood questionnaires, as well as showing significant drop in salivary cortisol levels and better acute cognitive performance12-15,21,22.
Ageing and digestive health
Ageing is a factor in several digestive system disorders, such as diverticulosis, peptic ulcer, gastritis, food intolerances and reduced nutrients absorption by the gut. Age-associated changes in intestinal microbiota and intestinal pro- and anti-inflammatory balance are proving increasingly important for healthy ageing.
Euromed’s artichoke extract Cynamed combines the well-known digestive properties of artichoke with the prebiotic properties of the inulin naturally present in the artichoke bud, to propose a total care of digestive tract. In a pilot in-vitro study using SHIME (Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem) model, Cynamed exerted bifidogenic actions, co-related with gut microbial metabolites23.
In conclusion, Mediterranean fruit extracts are well positioned as safe and effective ingredients that may promote healthy ageing and reduce the signs of premature ageing, with interesting cardiovascular, neurological, digestive and cosmetic plausible applications.
References available on request