As our body ages, the signs of aging manifest in our skin. Most of these are attributed to the depletion of the collagen level.
To remedy the situation and lessen the effects of aging, people lean on different approaches to restoring collagen. Vitamins, collagen supplements, light therapy and topical creams are the most popular. But, did you know that you can also get collagen naturally with the help of plants?
Technically, plants and herbs do not contain collagen. What they do is help the body produce more of it. A variety of fruits and vegetables that contain a high number of vitamins and antioxidants are the best choice. Amino acids are also essential in the production of collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein that plays a role in building the structures of the bone, skin and blood vessels. It is the one responsible for supporting bone health and skin elasticity.
As we age, the collagen present in the body breaks down. It also becomes harder for the body to produce more of it. Thus, people often resort to different practices to remedy the situation.
Collagen is naturally occurring in animal meat and fish with connective tissues. Plants do not contain collagen. Instead, they support the body’s ability in producing it. Taking food rich in Vitamin C, amino acids and antioxidants is important in promoting collagen production.
Skin fillers, guided tissue regeneration and skin revitalization are just a few medical uses of collagen. Doctors also use it to dress wounds to facilitate proper healing. Collagen is also beneficial in treating osteoarthritis by improving bone and joint health.
Plants That Serve the Same Purpose as Collagen
Food and some herbs are useful to the body since they help stimulate collagen production. It is by far the safest natural remedy that does not only target the skin but also overall health.
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), or Indian Pennywort, is a traditional herb used for treating dermatological disorders. It is effective in increasing Type I Collagen production to speed up wound healing and ward off sagging skin and wrinkles. It also contains a strong antioxidant that protects the skin from UV damage.
Gotu Kola is available in herbal extracts, creams, ointments and capsules. It can also be taken as a tea or infusion and used as a poultice for skin problems.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a rich source of silica, the mineral that helps bind collagen together. Silica carries the calcium into the bones and builds, absorbs and glues the collagen together.
Horsetail was used traditionally in treating osteoporosis for its effectiveness in strengthening the bones and joints. It also aids in improving the skin’s elasticity for smoother-looking and glowing skin.
Horsetail can be taken as an infusion, tea, tincture or capsule.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a cure-all spice with many therapeutic benefits, especially in promoting good skin health. It aids in the increased production of collagen and speeds up its ability to produce new tissues. The strong anti-inflammatory property of turmeric is also useful in relieving joint pain and inflammation.
The best way of taking turmeric is by adding a tsp of it in a warm glass of milk and a sprinkle of black pepper to improve its absorption.
Moringa (Moringa oleifera), or Horseradish tree, is a haven of vital nutrients critical in collagen production. It has Vitamins A, C and E which are essential in collagen production and synthesis. It contains antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in the body and flushes them away.
The leaves of moringa are very effective in blocking elastase, the enzyme that delimits collagen production. Taking moringa enables the body to produce high-quality collagen and increase the amino acids in it.
Moringa is available in capsule or tincture form. It is also available in powdered form to be mixed in any liquid of choice and taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries contain high amounts of Vitamin C needed for collagen production. Berries, especially wild ones, are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanin which reduces collagen breakdown. They support wound healing and inflammatory skin problems too.
Vitamin C in berries can be added to the diet in different forms. They can be eaten fresh, added to dishes, and blended into juices to get the most out of them.
When it comes to aging problems, Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is the herb of choice. It was touted as the “Fountain of Youth” for its amazing health benefits that reflect on skin health. Ginkgo is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids which prevent cell damage. It increases the production of collagen and restores skin elasticity lost to constant UV exposure.
You may find Gingko in ointment or serum for skin applications. It is also consumed as a capsule or tincture, often as the most preferred way of taking Ginkgo. However, it is more potent when taken in its raw form by infusing it fresh or preparing a tea from its ground dried leaves.
Gynostemma (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), or Jiaogulan or Southern ginseng, is a climbing vine native to southern China. It is a tonic herb with names almost synonymous with anti-aging and longevity. Its antioxidant properties are very effective in detoxifying the body and removing free radicals.
Gynostemma is beneficial in cardiovascular and digestive health. It also helps in balancing hormones and helping the body absorb essential nutrients.
Its leaves are used as anti-inflammatory tea or processed into concoctions for promoting overall health.
Purple mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is an exotic fruit growing in tropical regions that is gaining popularity in alternative medicine. The fruit contains strong antioxidant properties and Vitamin C.
Mangosteen rind and peel have an anti-glycation effect. It prevents the formation of glycation products that affect the collagen structure. Therefore, the skin can retain the moisture that it needs to keep supple-looking and healthy skin.
Tomatoes are widely available fruits (yes, botanically) that boast high amounts of lycopene and Vitamin C. Lycopene is a natural antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body. It helps promote collagen and elastin production and aids in their synthesis.
Tomato is one of the most popular foods when it comes to promoting heart health and skin health. It is also the easiest to include in the diet, either consumed raw, cooked or dried.
Thyme is another useful herb that works better than synthetic collagen treatment. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is rich in amino acids that make up collagen. It also contains a high amount of Vitamin C when taken in appropriate therapeutic amounts.
Thyme is one of the best herbs you can take if you are looking to increase Vitamin C intake and collagen production. Its main preparation is using it as fresh flavoring, dried herb or ground culinary spice. An infusion of its leaves and stem also releases its medicinal properties.
As an herbal remedy, thyme is also available as a liquid extract, essential oil or in capsule form.
Aging is an inevitable and natural process the body has to go through. Over time, many of the body’s functions diminish, including the natural production of collagen. Encouraging the body to produce more collagen starts by making healthy diet choices and taking supportive herbs.
Collagen is also available and marketed in cosmetic products. However, these products are not always as effective as advertised. To get high-quality collagen, what you need is to jumpstart its production from the inside.
Increasing collagen is not only useful in masking the signs of aging, but it is also important in bringing overall wellness as a whole.