Dragon Fruit's Anti-Inflammatory Benefits For Skin

  • Mariam Al-Amari Master's degree, Model-based drug development, The University of Manchester, UK
  • Ellie Kerrod BSc Neuroscience - The University of Manchester, England

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Introduction

Dragon fruit, with its vibrant pink or yellow exterior and unique appearance, has gained immense popularity in recent years. Beyond its eye-catching aesthetics and sweet taste, this exotic fruit harbours a secret that has captured the attention of skincare enthusiasts and scientists: its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin. In a world where natural skincare solutions are increasingly sought after, dragon fruit has emerged as a promising ingredient, offering a wealth of bioactive compounds that can soothe, rejuvenate, and protect the skin. This article delves into the science behind dragon fruit's skin-friendly properties, its nutritional profile, and how it can be effectively incorporated into skincare routines.

Understanding dragon fruit

Origin and varieties

Hylocereus spp, the scientific name for dragon fruit, has an interesting history and has a wide range of variants. This rare fruit is indigenous to Central America, where it has been grown for a very long time. In Southeast Asia, particularly in nations like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, dragon fruit has also made an appearance over the years. There, it flourishes in the region's warm, tropical weather. The Hylocereus costaricensis and Hylocereus undatus are two of the most popular dragon fruit cultivars. While the latter has brilliant red or pink flesh with black seeds, the former is distinguished by its white flesh embellished with small black seeds. Both species have a distinctive outer appearance that resembles dragon scales1.

Nutritional profile

Dragon fruit's appeal is beyond its striking appearance. It boasts a rich nutritional profile that includes essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which contribute to its skin-enhancing properties2:

Vitamins: Dragon fruit is a notable source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that supports collagen production and skin elasticity. It also contains vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin), which are essential for overall skin health.

Minerals: The fruit provides essential minerals like iron, which helps maintain healthy blood circulation, and calcium, which is important for skin cell regeneration.

Antioxidants: Dragon fruit is loaded with antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and betalains, which help combat free radicals and reduce oxidative stress on the skin.

Traditional uses in skincare

Traditional treatments have used dragon fruit for skin care for a very long time in many places where it grows. Indigenous peoples have used dragon fruit as a natural medicine to treat dry skin, heal rashes, and lessen their appearance. These customs shed important light on the fruit's potential for use in contemporary cosmetics.

Inflammation and skin health

Defining inflammation in the context of skin health

It's critical to comprehend the concept of inflammation concerning skin health before delving further into the anti-inflammatory benefits of dragon fruit. An immune system's natural defence against dangerous stimuli like viruses, wounds, or irritants is inflammation. However, persistent inflammation can harm the condition of the skin, causing a variety of problems like redness, irritation, and faster ageing.

Common causes of skin inflammation

Skin inflammation can be triggered by various factors, including:

UV Radiation: Prolonged sun exposure can lead to inflammation, sunburn, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Pollution: Environmental pollutants, such as airborne particulate matter and toxins, can irritate the skin and cause inflammation.

Skin Conditions: Conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne involve chronic inflammation as part of their pathophysiology.

Importance of addressing skin inflammation

Addressing inflammation is crucial for maintaining healthy and youthful skin. Chronic inflammation not only leads to discomfort but can also accelerate the ageing process by breaking down collagen and elastin fibres, resulting in sagging and wrinkles.

Dragon Fruit's Anti-Inflammatory Properties5

Key bioactive compounds

The secret to dragon fruit's anti-inflammatory prowess lies in its bioactive compounds:

Antioxidants: Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, a major contributor to skin inflammation.

Vitamins: Vitamin C, present in ample amounts in dragon fruit, plays a key role in reducing inflammation and promoting skin repair.

Mechanisms of action

How does dragon fruit combat inflammation in the skin?

Reducing Oxidative Stress: Antioxidants in dragon fruit scavenge free radicals, preventing them from causing cellular damage and inflammation.

Enhancing Collagen Production: Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis, promoting skin firmness and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Anti-Inflammatory Signalling: Some studies suggest that dragon fruit may modulate inflammatory signaling pathways, further reducing skin inflammation.

Scientific evidence

Scientific research supports dragon fruit's anti-inflammatory effects on the skin:

A study published in the "Journal of Food Biochemistry" (2019) found that dragon fruit extract exhibited anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory molecules in skin cells.6

Research in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" (2020) highlighted the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of dragon fruit, suggesting its application in skincare formulations.7

Benefits of dragon fruit for skin

Moisturising properties

The high water content and the availability of natural oils in dragon fruit, as well as its rich nutritional composition, are the source of the fruit's skin-moisturizing characteristics. The fruit's high water content contributes to maintaining ideal skin moisture levels by hydrating the skin and avoiding dryness and flakiness. Additionally, dragon fruit has natural oils that help the skin maintain moisture by establishing a barrier over the top of the skin. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is frequently linked to dry and parched skin, can be prevented by these oils, which can help seal in hydration8.

Anti-ageing effects

Due to its high antioxidant content, particularly vitamin C and betalains, dragon fruit has noticeable anti-ageing effects on the skin. Dragon fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, which is essential for the creation of collagen, a crucial element of skin structure. Collagen gives skin its suppleness and firmness, and as people become older, less of it is produced. The vitamin C in dragon fruit can aid in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and fostering a more youthful complexion by increasing the formation of collagen. Dragon fruit also contains betalains, which help neutralize free radicals and are believed to speed up skin ageing by causing cellular damage.5

Protection against environmental damage

Due mostly to its high antioxidant content, dragon fruit effectively protects the skin from environmental harm. To protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals produced by exposure to environmental factors like UV radiation and pollution, antioxidants are essential. Peer-reviewed research emphasizes the function of antioxidants in reducing oxidative stress and avoiding early ageing and skin damage.5 Specific antioxidants included in dragon fruit, such as betalains and vitamin C, fight free radicals and lessen their capacity to damage cells and induce inflammation. By preventing disorders like sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and collagen deterioration brought on by UV radiation and pollution, this protective action aids in maintaining the health of the skin.5

How to incorporate dragon fruit into your skincare routine

Using fresh dragon fruit

You can use the flesh of the dragon fruit as a topical mask to apply on the face and neck area.

Dragon fruit-based skincare products

Dragon fruit is now a typical ingredient in many skincare products for individuals looking for convenience. For a hassle-free method to reap its advantages, look for moisturizers, serums, and masks that contain dragon fruit extract.

Conclusion

Dragon fruit stands out as a pure and powerful skincare component in the search for healthier and brighter skin. It adds value to skincare regimens with its powerful anti-inflammatory qualities, which are backed by research. Dragon fruit provides a multifaceted solution to addressing skin issues, from moisturizing and anti-ageing properties to protection against environmental harm, whether used in fresh DIY treatments or as an ingredient in commercial skincare products. Dragon fruit is positioned to play a big role in the future of skincare as the need for natural skin care solutions rises. It will assist people in achieving their skin health objectives while also allowing them to enjoy the many advantages of this exotic fruit.

Summary

With its eye-catching look and sweet flavour, dragon fruit has recently become very popular. This exotic fruit holds promise as an ingredient in natural skincare because of its significant anti-inflammatory properties for the skin. Dragon fruit, also known as Hylocereus spp. in scientific circles, is a variety of fruit that originated in Central America and is currently cultivated in Southeast Asia. The fruit's important vitamins, particularly vitamin C, minerals, such as iron and calcium, and antioxidants, like betalains and beta-carotene, all play a role in its skin-improving effects. The potential of dragon fruit in modern cosmetics is shown by the fact that indigenous tribes have long utilized it for skincare. This investigated how dragon fruit can treat skin inflammation and the significance of this for skin health. The fruit's methods of action are supported by scientific research. Additionally, dragon fruit has moisturizing, anti-ageing, and anti-environmental damage properties on the skin. Dragon fruit is positioned to play a big part in the future of natural skincare, giving a comprehensive approach to skin health, whether it is utilized in DIY cures or commercial solutions.

References

  1. Abirami K, Swain S, Baskaran V, Venkatesan K, Sakthivel K, Bommayasamy N. Distinguishing three Dragon fruit (Hylocereus spp.) species grown in Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India using morphological, biochemical, and molecular traits. Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 3;11(1):2894.
  2. Arivalagan M, Karunakaran G, Roy TK, Dinsha M, Sindhu BC, Shilpashree VM, et al. Biochemical and nutritional characterization of dragon fruit (Hylocereus species). Food Chem. 2021 Aug 15;353:129426.
  3. Tampa M, Neagu M, Caruntu C, Constantin C, Georgescu SR. Skin inflammation cornerstone in dermatological conditions. J Pers Med. 2022 Aug 25;12(9):1370.
  4. Hossain MR, Ansari TM, Komine M, Ohtsuki M. Diversified stimuli-induced inflammatory pathways cause skin pigmentation. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 12;22(8):3970.
  5. Nishikito DF, Borges ACA, Laurindo LF, Otoboni AMMB, Direito R, Goulart R de A, et al. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other health effects of dragon fruit and potential delivery systems for its bioactive compounds. Pharmaceutics. 2023 Jan 3;15(1):159.
  6. Thu TTM, Jerz G, Winterhalter P. The application of ion-pair high-performance countercurrent chromatography monitored by off-line LC-ESI-MS/MS injections to study betalain metabolite from Vietnamese red dragon fruit (Hylocereus polarizes): Frailty and Life Satisfaction in Elderly.   VJCH [Internet]. 2019 Oct [cited 2023 Sep 23];57(5):531–7. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/vjch.201900049
  7. Joshi M, Prabhakar B. Phytoconstituents and pharmaco‐therapeutic benefits of pitaya: A wonder fruit. J Food Biochem [Internet]. 2020 Jul [cited 2023 Sep 23];44(7). Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jfbc.13260
  8. Paśko P, Galanty A, Zagrodzki P, Luksirikul P, Barasch D, Nemirovski A, et al. Dragon fruits as a reservoir of natural polyphenolics with chemopreventive properties. Molecules [Internet]. 2021 Apr 9 [cited 2023  Sep 23];26(8):2158. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8070077/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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