Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, especially as a Type 1 collagen. It’s found in our muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system, and tendons. It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity while also replacing dead skin cells. When it comes to joints and tendons — in the simplest terms — it’s the glue that binds the body together.
Healthy skin, nails, bones, and connective tissue need collagen to be strong and radiant. Collagen production naturally declines as we age — for most of us at least — yet, if you nourish and intake high quality collagen sources, you can begin to defy the classic aging process.
How Herbs Support Collagen:
A fascinating element that a lot of these herbs share is their energetic and chemical properties. The bone-mending type of herbs are naturally high in silica, calcium, and minerals, which assists in bone strength and healing. Some of these herbs are astringent yet contain what I like to call the holy glue — it’s an essential glue (a demulcent quality) in the plant that, once metabolized, becomes an incredibly powerful food for our bones, connective tissue, skin and more.
Not many herbs contain these two oppositional natures — astringent and demulcent — and it is here that this nutrition must be widely used and understood to reap the incredible health benefits. Many of these herbs have been widely studied by the scientific community, backing up ancient folkloric uses among many cultures worldwide.
Before we get into the below herbs that boost collagen, keep in mind that these most likely are herbs that you haven't heard of before and does include some scientific lingo. I am happy to answer any questions you have as there is a lot to unpack here and it is all such valuable information!
Another name is fo-ti, which is a misnomer.
The root of the fo-ti plant can restore fertility, help maintain hair color, boost energy, rejuvenate the nerves and brain cells, tone the kidneys and liver, fortify the bones, and purify the blood.
This adaptogenic root has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 3,000 years. Since that time, fo-ti has been regarded as a sort of a fountain of youth and held as the elixir of life within Eastern traditions. Due to its longevity promoting nature (including the superoxide dismutase, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants to the human body), it’s precisely the antioxidant that has been credited for reversing diseases, increasing immune protection and lifespan. Some of the more notable studies reflect its ability to protect bones from oxidative stress, chemo-protective qualities, increasing natural killer cells showing anti-cancerous support to several forms of cancer and being neuro-protective.
Equisetum arvense, the field horsetail or common horsetail, is one of the oldest plants on the planet. The hollow stems and shoots of horsetail are a rich source of naturally occurring calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other valuable nutrients. Many of the medicinal properties of horsetail can be attributed to its high silica content, which is easily absorbed by the human body. Silica is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in the development, strengthening and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Silica also restores weak connective tissues in blood vessels, cartilage, tendons and in collagen — the body glue that helps hold our skin and muscle tissues together. Silica speeds the healing of bone fractures, is said to help rheumatism and arthritis by improving the elasticity of the joints, and is recommended to athletes for sprains, pulled hamstrings and torn ligaments.
Gynostemma pentaphyllum, also called jiaogulan is a natural antioxidant and a rich source of healthy vitamins and minerals. Many people suggest that gynostemma is one of the best adaptogens found in nature, also referred to as biological response modifiers. Gynostemma is called the immortality herb for good reason. It was originally brought to scientific attention because population studies revealed that those who consumed it regularly were living longer and significantly healthier lives.
The main reason for this general benefit is that it contains two very important antioxidants — glutathione and superoxide dismutase. One clinical study revealed that taking gynostemma each day for a two-month period reduced many of the signs of aging including fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, diarrhea, and poor balance. The anti-aging benefits of gynostemma are due to its many rejuvenating properties.
Urtica dioica, often known as common nettle, stinging nettle or nettle leaf, contain a high amount of calcium, silica, and sulfur, making it an excellent source to help boost collagen receptors. Nettles are often used in beauty products like shampoo and soap, as it restores, repairs and is known for its antiseptic qualities. Stinging nettle is a valuable tonic that can support the immune system, spleen, circulatory system, urinary tract, nervous system, respiratory tract, digestive system, and endocrine system, including the adrenals, thyroid, and the pancreas.
Nettle is a multi-vitamin. Other nutrients found in nettles are calcium, carotene, magnesium, vitamin A, B + K, Potassium, and protein. Nettle leaves are rich in silica and sulfur, making it an excellent candidate to strengthen hair follicle, shaft, strands and preventing easy breakage and damage. Increasing nutrient-rich blood flow circulation in the scalp helps to feed every hair follicle promoting healthy, long, and lustrous hair. Not only does nettle leaf help in controlling hair loss, but it may help in hair growth. Nettle leaves are rich in vitamins A, B1, B5, C, D and E.
Nettles’ astringent properties may help with tightening the skin, assisting the skin and scalp, possibly preventing eczema and the healing of small cuts and bruises. Due to its high antioxidant makeup, it assists in combating the effects of multiple stressors, therefore protecting from our collagen receptors to our endocrine system.
Calendula has been used since ancient times for its phenomenal abilities to restore skin, assist in wound healing and activate collagen receptors to increase the glow. Calendula flowers have long been employed in folk therapy, and more than 35 properties have been attributed to decoctions and tinctures from the flowers. The main uses are as remedies for burns (including sunburns), bruises and cutaneous and internal inflammatory diseases of several origins. Folk medicine in different parts of the world have used it for its beautifying chemistry, from preventing wrinkles, to oxygenating the blood, to increasing overall circulation. Modern research has proven many of its healing abilities, along with noting its extraordinary ability to protect the skin from cellular and oxidative damage.
Collagen keeps our skin firm and resilient. The role of vitamin C in the production of collagen is to interact with amino acids within collagen cells. It adds hydrogen and oxygen to those amino acids, so they may do their part in collagen production. Mangosteen peel has been touted for being not only one of the highest sources of vitamin C found in nature, but it also contains a mega-load of antioxidants.
As far as beauty chemistry goes, the high number of antioxidants has shown to be an excellent skin tonic. Several studies have found that the pericarp was particularly successful at curbing the production of acne-causing inflammation, along with other skin breakouts (like cirrhosis, eczema, and inflammation-based rashes). Besides using xanthones to defend the skin, the fruit also promotes microcirculation improving the appearance of skin vitality and radiance.
Who has questions? Let's have a discussion around the power of these herbs and more!
xox, Dr. G