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Selected Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Topically Applied Sunflower Oil

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This paper aims to summarize the outcomes of in vivo and in vitro studies relating to cosmeceutical and phytopharmaceutical potency of sunflower seed oil based on the epidemiological evidence published in the last 13 years. Study design of the reviewed literature included 25 selected scientific articles, as follows: randomized human studies (11), animal studies (6), reviews (5), and in vitro studies (3). Topical applied product consisted in raw sunflower seed oil, mixtures with other oils or herbs, and trade cosmetic or medicinal products. Fatty acids from this vegetable oil were shown to alleviate symptoms associated with skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin disorders, as well as to protect skin from photodamage and photoaging. Health benefits of sunflower oil were also found when applying on gingival, respectively on gastric mucosa. In conclusion, topical administration has proven certain positive skin effects but further research may be warranted in order to design more potent and safe phytopharmaceuticals.
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App. Sci. Report.
10 (1), 2015: 45-49
© PSCI Publications
Applied Science Reports
www.pscipub.com/ASR
E-ISSN: 2310-9440 / P-ISSN: 2311-0139
DOI: 10.15192/PSCP.ASR.2015.10.1.4549
Selected Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Topically Applied
Sunflower Oil
Mihaela Stoia1*, Simona Oancea2
1. Faculty of Medicine, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
2. Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Food Industry and Environmental Protection, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
*Corresponding author email: medmuncii@dspsibiu.ro
Paper Information
A B S T R A C T
Received: 18 February, 2015
Accepted: 27 March, 2015
Published: 20 April, 2015
Citation
Stoia M, Oancea S. 2015. Selected Evidence-Based Health
Benefits of Topically Applied Sunflower Oil. Applied
Science Reports, 10(1), 45-49. Retrieved from
www.pscipub.com
(DOI:10.15192/PSCP.ASR.2015.10.1.4549)
This paper aims to summarize the outcomes of in vivo and in vitro studies
relating to cosmeceutical and phytopharmaceutical potency of sunflower
seed oil based on the epidemiological evidence published in the last 13
years. Study design of the reviewed literature included 25 selected
scientific articles, as follows: randomized human studies (11), animal
studies (6), reviews (5), and in vitro studies (3). Topical applied product
consisted in raw sunflower seed oil, mixtures with other oils or herbs, and
trade cosmetic or medicinal products. Fatty acids from this vegetable oil
were shown to alleviate symptoms associated with skin sensitivity and
inflammatory skin disorders, as well as to protect skin from photodamage
and photoaging. Health benefits of sunflower oil were also found when
applying on gingival, respectively on gastric mucosa. In conclusion, topical
administration has proven certain positive skin effects but further research
may be warranted in order to design more potent and safe
phytopharmaceuticals.
© 2015 PSCI Publisher All rights reserved.
Key words: cosmeceutical; fatty acids; healthy skin; phytopharmaceutical; sunflower oil.
Introduction
From skin care to medical therapeutics, sunflower seed oil subjected increasingly research papers in dermatology as
well as patent products for two major reasons, respectively (1) an effective, low-cost, and natural alternative, and (2) contains
lipids similar in composition to stratum corneum lipids which has been shown to increase the epidermal ceramide and
cholesterol synthesis, and to activate peroxisome proliferative-activated receptor alpha (Eichenfield et al., 2009). Literature
reviews refer mostly to the use of oils to retain moisture in skin and consequently to preserve and enhance skin barrier
(Telofski et al., 2012; Lodén and Maibach, 2012), especially in preterm newborn infants to reduce neonatal mortality and
hospital acquired infection (Lawn et al., 2013; Salam et al., 2013). Pediatric dermatologists recommend paraffin and linoleic
acid as basic and healthy ingredients for the next generation of emollients, highlighting natural oils such as safflower, grape
seed, poppy seed and sunflower oil with 70-80% share of linoleic acid. Recently, the emollient effect of certain vegetable oils
was assessed by transepidermal water loss measurements and relies on semi-occlusion of the skin surface (Patzelt et al., 2012).
Human evidences on antioxidant property of tocopherols - abundant in sunflower seeds and known as the most
common form of vitamin E - are also referring to cosmeceutical photo-protection in dermal applications (Mishra et al., 2011),
especially in the form of natural unesterified tocopherols as demonstrated by in vitro human skin cell (keratinocytes) test using
simulated solar UV radiation (Alander et al., 2006). There is evidence that photo-protection by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
relies on a balance between inflammatory, immune, and antioxidant systems in the skin. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products
with biologically active ingredients purporting to have medical or drug-like benefits when applied topically, such as creams,
lotions and ointments (dictionary), but not expected to be similar to a pharmaceutical product. In this respect, emollient and
antioxidant properties of topical applied sunflower oil should be regarded from the perspective of repair and maintenance of
the epidermal barrier as a skin care product.
By comparison, phytopharmaceuticals are drugs whose active constituents are exclusively plant-based (containing
plant parts, extracts, plant juices or distillates) and are used in rational phytotherapy, offering high advantages as they come
with safety profiles. For example ozonized sunflower oil meets these requirements, modulating the complex healing process
probably by slowly decomposition into different peroxides generating hydrogen peroxide that can explain the prolonged
disinfectant and stimulatory activity (Travagli et al., 2010). Sunflower oleodistillate containing 90% essential lipids, 5%
App. Sci. Report. 10 (1), 2015: 45-49
46
phytosterol, and 1% vitamin E has proven in vitro and in vivo a triple action on cutaneous barrier homeostasis, inflammation,
and immunologic response specific to atopic dermatitis (De Belilovsky et al., 2011). In modern medicine, translation of
traditional remedies into phytomedicines is based on the role of phytochemicals which show a positive correlation between
their modern therapeutic use and the traditional use of the plants from which they are derived. In this respect, new antioxidant
formulations to improve stability of vegetable oils are welcome (Oancea and Grosu, 2014; Stoia and Oancea, 2013). The aim
of this paper is to highlight the health benefits of topical applied sunflower oil based on high quality evidence.
Method Articles addressing the topical application of raw sunflower seed oil or products containing the oil concerned were
identified through on line search in scientific databases, following publications between 2002 and 2014. The evidence-based
review system was performed in order to meet the eligible criteria of health claims primarily in human studies and secondary
in animal and in vitro studies, according to the levels of evidence hierarchic differentiated in table 1.
Table 1. Levels of evidence (Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database).
Level
A
A
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
C
C
D
D
D
Results And Discussion
25 from 31 of the reviewed scientific articles were selected and classified as follows: 11 human clinical trials, 6
animal studies, 5 reviews, and 3 in vitro studies. The prevalence of human trials (44%) in the selected epidemiological
evidence, as shown in figure 1, points out the practical interest of scientists for new topical therapies inspired by nature, and
less harmful. The applied product consisted in sunflower seed oil, experimental mixtures (Skin conditioner; Essential fatty acid
solution; Eicosa-pentaenoic acid), and commercial products (Oleozon; Psirelax). Evidence-based results and studies conclusion
are summarized in table 2.
44%
24%
20%
12%
human trials
animal studies
reviews
in vitro studies
Figure 1. Study design of the reviewed literature
App. Sci. Report. 10 (1), 2015: 45-49
47
Table 2. Evidence-based health benefits of topically applied sunflower oil.
Level
Product
Conclusions
Ref.
Randomized
clinical trial
Sunflower seed oil
Enhances skin barrier function, and prevents invasive
bacterial infections;
(Kanti et al., 2014; Danby
et al., 2013; LeFevre et
al., 2010; Nawshad et al.,
2007; Darmstadt et al.,
2005; Darmstadt et al.,
2004)
Oleozon®
Demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of
onychomycosis, superior to that of ketoconazole;
(Menéndez et al., 2011)
Skin conditioner
(mixture)
Complementary treatment in mild to moderate severe
psoriasis;
(Maier et al., 2004)
Sunflower oil
Diminishes the „scaly skin” symptoms of patients
known to be deficient in essential fatty acids (topical
supplementation);
(Aburjai and Natsheh,
2003)
Vitamin E and F
containing toothpaste
Reducing plaque levels and improving gingival
conditions;
(Schäfer et al., 2007)
Linoleic acid
A constituent of sunflower oil can become
incorporated into human gingival tissue after
application in vivo and, in so doing, “nourish” human
gingiva.
(D’Agostino et al., 2007)
Open label study
Psirelax® (mixture)
Decrease in psoriasis severity
(Shiri et al., 2011)
Systematic review
Cosmeceutical
Anti-wrinkling and anti-ageing properties;
(Mishra et al., 2011)
Sunflower
oleodistillate (SOD)
Moisturizing properties in adults, and strong steroid-
sparing effect in infants and babies with atopic
dermatitis;
(Eichenfield et al., 2009)
Sunflower oil
As a minor ingredient in skin protectant drug products
in neonates;
(Visscher, 2009)
Sunflower oil
Dry skin treatment for smoothing and noncomedogenic
properties;
(Singh et al., 2014)
Critical review
Essential fatty acids
(EFA)
The analyzed studies, mainly performed using animal
models, are not appropriate to indicate EFA as an
efficient therapy for wound healing in humans.
(Ferreira et al., 2012)
Animal study
Sunflower seed oil
Accelerates the healing process in wounded horses,
goats, lambs, and mice;
(Oliveira et al., 2012;
Abhishek et al., 2012 ;
Marques et al., 2004;
Darmstadt et al., 2002)
Sunflower seed oil
40 % protection in the mouse skin tumor (papiloma)
model;
(Kapadia et al., 2002)
Ozonized sunflower oil
94 % average mycological cure in experimental
dermatophytosis in mice.
(Thomson et al., 2011)
In vitro study
Sunflower seed oil
Effectiveness by antimicrobial activity index on S.
aureus, E. coli, B. subtilis, P. aeruginosa, Candida
albicans;
(Aboki et al., 2012)
Ozonized sunflower oil
A direct chemical-oxidation attack on Giardia
duodenalis cultivated trophozoites;
(Hernández et al., 2009)
Eicosa-pentaenoic acid
(EPA)
EPA is a potential agent for the prevention and
treatment of skin aging in human dermal fibroblasts.
(Kim et al., 2005)
Regardless of the applied product (per , mixtures with other oils or herbs, and trade cosmetic / medicinal products),
sunflower oil has proven certain qualities involved in the health of the skin via enhancing skin barrier function and local lipid
production, reducing inflammation, activating peroxisome proliferative-activated receptor-alpha, promotion of wound healing,
and promotion of apoptosis in malignant cells (McCusker and Grant-Kels, 2010). Ozonized sunflower oil (Oleozon) and
sunflower oleodistillate (SOD) were among the most used products in clinical trials compared to crude oil which was mainly
used in animals for wound healing or to improve outcome in neonates with compromised barrier function as a low-cost
efficient alternative. Moreover, n-6 and n-3 EFAs seem to be crucial to skin function and appearance, respectively n-6 fatty
acids are related to skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin disorders, while n-3 fatty acids are protectors in photo-damage and
photo-aging. Therefore, topical supplementation may be a route of delivery during EFA deficiency.
In conclusion, there is strong evidence coming from human studies and systematic reviews which supports the
following health benefits of topical applied sunflower oil: antifungal treatment in adults’ onychomycosis, infection preventing
in premature neonates, atopic dermatitis treatment in infants and babies, “dry skin” and “scaly skin” treatment in adults and
elders with EFA deficiencies, anti-wrinkling and anti-ageing properties, improving gingival condition, and psoriasis
complementary treatment. A promising adjuvant therapy in skin cancer comes from animal papiloma model, but further
clinical trials are expected to support this hypothesis as well as other health claims on phytopharmaceutical potency of
sunflower oil.
App. Sci. Report. 10 (1), 2015: 45-49
48
Acknowledgements
This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCSUEFISCDI,
project number PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0474.
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Background: Inadequate skin care may increase morbidity in preterm infants. Skin care practices that support skin maturation have barely been investigated. Objectives: To investigate the effect of sunflower seed oil (SSO) on skin barrier development in low-birth-weight premature infants. Methods: 22 preterm infants (<48 h after birth, 1,500-2,500 g) were randomized into group C (control) and group SSO, receiving daily SSO application during the first 10 postnatal days, followed by no intervention. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration (SCH), skin pH and sebum were measured <48 h after birth and on postnatal days 5, 11 and 21 on the forehead, abdomen, thigh and buttock. Results: Skin pH decreased, while sebum remained stable in both groups. In group C, TEWL remained stable; in group SSO, TEWL increased significantly on the abdomen, leg and buttock until day 11, followed by a decrease after SSO application had been stopped. Abdomen SCH remained stable in group C, but continuously decreased in group SSO until day 21. Conclusion: SSO application may retard postnatal skin barrier maturation in preterm infants.
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The paper describes the great potential of anthocyanin extracts from dry skins of red onions (Allium cepa L.) to stabilise sunflower oil in comparison to the effect generated by tocopherols mixture. Total phenolics content in the investigated red onion samples is 1346 mg GAE 100 g–1 fresh mass (FM), while total anthocyanins content is 99.66 mg 100 g–1 FM. The anthocyanin extract shows activity against Streptococcus pyogenes. The effectiveness of the natural antioxidant on the oxidative stability of sunflower oil was assessed by evaluation of primary and secondary oxidation products, using peroxide value and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances tests. Our results indicate that sunflower oil containing small amounts of red onion anthocyanin extract exhibits lower levels of lipid oxidation at 40oC during 10-day storage compared to control and samples containing tocopherols. Also, a significant decrease of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) values of sunflower oil treated with red onion anthocyanin extract was observed compared to the control sample. These results may contribute to the future consideration of anthocyanins from red onion by-products as economically advantageous sources of natural antioxidants and antimicrobials to be used in edible oils.