Ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and gotu kola are common ingredients in homeopathic medicine, but are their benefits for skin scientifically verifiable? Thankfully, the answer is yes!
Ginseng (from the genus Panax) is an root common to Korea, China, and Siberia, and has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. The Chinese mainly used the root as an herb to promote energy and a long lifespan, and modern medicine has demonstrated that ginseng does indeed have health benefits - particularly for the skin!
Like ginseng, Ginkgo biloba (pictured above) has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, mainly in Asia, to treat a multitude of health issues. Unlike ginseng, Gingko biloba isn’t a root, it’s a tree. Amazingly, it is the only remaining species of its genus, as all of the other species are now extinct! The fossil record dates it to over 270 million years ago, making this the oldest tree species on earth.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica, commonly called centella) is an herbaceous plant native to Asia, and was traditionally used to treat leprosy. It has been shown to have very high levels of antioxidants, making it fantastic for reducing free radicals in the skin and preventing the aging effects of oxidation and sun damage.
Ginseng has long been touted as one of the ultimate anti-aging ingredients, due to its antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, and metabolic properties. Not only does ginseng deactivate free radicals (the molecules that cause oxidation and skin cell death), it also boosts the metabolism of skin cells and increases cell turnover. It can even increase the production of collagen, which is an essential structural component of the skin - without it, your skin lacks its firmness and youthful vitality.
Similarly, ginkgo biloba and gotu kola are also powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and metabolic boosters - making them excellent anti-aging and anti-acne ingredients.
An increase in the metabolism of skin can have dramatic effects in a short period of time. Skin that is dull, flat, or overly textured often indicates the need to eliminate dead skin cells - a process that ginseng and ginkgo biloba can help speed up.
An increase in cell turnover can also help the skin reduce hyperpigmentation, scarring, and inflammation. The “newer” your skin cells are, the younger and fresher you look!
Traditional homeopaths have long claimed that ginseng has regenerative and healing properties, and recent studies have shown that ginseng does indeed promote the healing of wounds, particularly burns. For those suffering from inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and some types of acne, ginseng extracts can be extremely beneficial to healing!
Because of ginseng and ginkgo biloba’s anti-inflammatory properties, they can help reduce redness and inflammation caused by acne while also decreasing the healing time of acne lesions - a win-win for acne sufferers!
When used as a toner or as part of a skincare product, ginseng gently increases skin’s ability to heal itself (by increasing the immune response) while simultaneously remaining gentle enough not to irritate sensitive, damaged skin. Likewise, ginkgo biloba is a vasodilator, allowing it to increase circulation within the skin (an important component of healing).
It’s no secret that overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be extremely damaging to skin, and can even result in some types of cancer. UV exposure can cause moisture loss and collagen damage within the skin which often results in severe wrinkling, and sun exposure can also cause hyperpigmentation and a mottled appearance.
Ginseng can prevent many of those damaging signs of photoaging, and in studies on mice it even helped treat UV-based cancer. A study also showed a marked reduction in wrinkles and an improvement in skin’s overall appearance after introducing ginseng to the participants’ diets.
Ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and gotu kola are all excellent and valuable additions to skincare routines - and have similar properties beyond their names all starting with G! Whether you want to reduce inflammation, slow down the effects of aging, or treat acne, a combination of these three ingredients is sure to help.