The Paul Penders e-Newsletter: July 2007

In This Issue:
Expert Herbalist Joins Paul Penders
25,000 Products Unmasked
American Botanical Council Publishes New Book
How Stress Affects the Skin

Expert Herbalist Joins Paul Penders

In July 2007, expert herbalist Dr. Abdul Ghani Hussain, MBChB, joined Paul Penders’ board of advisors. Dr. Hussain is a highly respected physician, researcher and instructor who lives on Langkawi Geopark in Malaysia.

His extensive knowledge of herbal ingredients will be invaluable to Paul Penders as the company continues to develop new, naturally-based products that provide highly efficacious results. Dr. Ghani will also work with the company to incorporate flower essences and natural perfumes from Langkawi Geopark as well as his own private cultivate into Paul Penders products.

Trained in Western-style medicine then expanding into Malay, Islamic, Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines, Dr. Ghani started collecting medicinal plants as a means to treat common ailments like headaches and flu. Although his wife, Dayang, was allergic to most of the modern medications in his clinic, Dr. Ghani found that she responded well to herbal medicines.

Dr. Ghani now regularly conducts Herbwalks in Langkawi, explaining the local flora to visitors through two-hour tours of the island’s swamps and rainforests as well as his own herb gardens. These gardens contain more than 500 different species of plants with known medicinal values. After each tour, traditional Malay refreshments are served.

Since conducting the first Herbwalk in January 2007 with Malaysia's fourth Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Herbwalks have become popular with visitors from around the world. Leading Malaysia from 1981 through 2003, Dr. Mohamad is credited with having put in the place the infrastructure that would lead to Langkawi’s being elected a UNESCO Geopark in early 2007.

For more details about Herbwalk, or to read Dr. Ghani’s blog describing various species of plants indigenous to Langkawi, please click here.

25,000 Products Unmasked

It’s now possible to fully understand the composition of about 25,000 cosmetic and makeup products, thanks to a new online database launched by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Skin Deep 3.0, which was introduced in May, is the largest public, product-safety database in existence. It couples an extensive collection of cosmetics and personal care product ingredient listings compiled by the EWG with more than 50 integrated toxicity and regulatory databases.  This third version of the original Skin Deep database, which was first launched three years ago by the EWG, dramatically upgrades the earlier version both in the number of products assessed and the sophistication of its safety reviews.

Many people think that the ingredients in personal care and cosmetic products are safety tested before they are sold. But there is no such requirement, either in the United States or in most other countries. In fact, safety studies of cosmetics products or their ingredients cannot be mandated by law, and only 13% of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been reviewed for safety by the cosmetic industry's own review panel.

EWG is a not-for-profit group that is also a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC). An advocacy group lobbying for healthier personal care products, the CSC drafted the Compact for Safe Cosmetics in early 2004 and by mid 2007, more than 500 companies, including Paul Penders, have signed.

For more information about the Compact, please click here. To view the database, please click here.

American Botanical Council Publishes New Book

The American Botanical Council (ABC), a leading global organization that educates consumers, healthcare professionals, researchers, educators and industry on the safe and effective use of herbs and medicinal plants, has recently published a comprehensive new herbal handbook.

Entitled, “The Identification of Medicinal Plants,” the book features 113 botanical entries covering more than 150 different species of botanicals, plus 87 detailed drawings. It also contains a review of basic plant structure, practical advice on identification, botanical nomenclature, glossary, reference list, and an index. It was written by Wendy Applequist, PhD, a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

This latest book adds to a long list of books and other publications that ABC has produced on the subject of herbs, herbal medicine and herbal products. Each quarter, the non-profit group publishes HerbalGram, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Every two weeks, it puts out HerbalClip, a series of summaries and critical reviews of recently published herbal literature; and every month, ABC sends out HerbalEGram to its online subscribers.

ABC’s website is also a wealth of information about herbs, offering several online herbal databases as well as a virtual herb garden tour.  

For more details, please click here.

How Stress Affects the Skin

Stress isn’t just an unpleasant emotion: it’s the cause of a complex set of physiological changes in the body that can result in everything from dull, lifeless skin to acne flares, premature wrinkling and an increased risk of heart disease.

The effects of stress on the skin begin with adrenaline. When confronted with a stressful situation, the body produces this “fight or flight” hormone. Adrenaline prepares the body for action in emergency situations, boosting the supply of oxygen and energy-giving glucose to the brain and muscles. At the same time, however, adrenaline re-directs blood flow away from the skin, thereby decreasing the skin’s supply of oxygen.

When this happens repeatedly, such as through the chronic stress induced by ongoing tension at home or at work, the skin doesn’t receive the nourishment it needs. This can result in dull skin tone, loss of elasticity and overactive sebaceous (oil) glands, leading to acne breakouts. Over prolonged periods, stressed skin often shows signs of early wrinkling and discoloration when internal regenerative processes break down. Stress also slows the skin’s rate of cellular turnover, so it takes longer for fresh, new skin cells to reach the skin’s surface.

Aside from eliminating the source of stress, easy ways to mitigate its effects include reducing caffeine intake, increasing consumption of antioxidants and supplementing skin care regimens.

Like stress, caffeine elevates adrenaline levels by altering the chemistry of the brain. It does this by inhibiting the action of adenosine.

Stress can also weaken the immune system and inhibit the important work of antioxidants, which slow the creation of damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules responsible for everything from killing harmful bacteria to increasing the risk of cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and skin problems. Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help boost the body’s ability to prevent free radical damage, countering the effects of stress.

Perhaps the easiest way, though, to reduce the effects of stress on the skin is to boost the skin’s nutrient levels from the outside in. Topical products containing antioxidants enhance the skin’s ability to produce collagen and elastin. Two of the most important of the skin’s building blocks, collagen and elastin are necessary to help prevent the development of wrinkles. As levels of these substances decline with age and stress, skin develops wrinkles and other imperfections more quickly.

While wrinkle-filling injections can temporarily supplement collagen levels, some researchers believe that topically applying collagen to the skin might help it make more collagen on its own. This would have a "filling" effect similar to the wrinkle injections – but without the needle.

To read more about skin care products that can help counteract the effects of stress, please click here.