Research indicates burdock seed oil active arctigenin has potential skin-brightening benefits

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

Research indicates that Arctigenin-Enriched Burdock Seed Oil, or ABSO, has effective skin-lightening properties. © Dmytro Skrypnykov Getty Images
Research indicates that Arctigenin-Enriched Burdock Seed Oil, or ABSO, has effective skin-lightening properties. © Dmytro Skrypnykov Getty Images

Related tags botanicals skin brightening skin lightening Extract Skin care

For the first time, researchers have successfully extracted and produced a potent skin-brightening botanical extract from the burdock plant.

Findings from the study​, which are published in Cosmetics​, suggest that arctigenin-enriched burdock seed oil, or ABSO, could offer formulators an alternative ingredient for products targeting redness and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 

According to poll results released by market research firm Statista early last year, skin care products hold the top spot in the distribution of global natural and organic beauty products markets at 31.9%.

Included in this category are skin brightening/skin lightening products to target hyperpigmentation like melasma and PIH or skin tone unevenness, which are “common dermatologic concerns that have a significant impact on quality of life” that affect consumers of all ages and demographics. 

Considering the growing global demand for natural skincare products, it is exciting to note a recent study published by Rohto Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Signum Biosciences where research and development teams detail their test results and conclusions on a new botanical extract to help lighten skin.

Focusing their efforts on the Arctium lappa​ L. plant, commonly known as burdock, researchers sought to isolate the naturally occurring active ingredient Arctigenin (ATG) from burdock seed extract to create an enriched topical cosmetic product with enhanced skin lightening and brightening benefits. 

Meet the extract

The burdock plant, an herbaceous plant originally native to Japan but now found worldwide, has a rich history as a common ingredient in ancient Chinese medicine with carefully documented “historical therapeutic use in many dermatological conditions such as rashes, eczema, acne, and psoriasis.”

Extensive studies consistently demonstrate that burdock extract exhibits anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and even anti-cancer benefits, but much of that published research has focused on burdock root and whole fruit derivates, leaving “the seed alone underutilized and understudied.” 

The high concentration of ATG in burdock seeds is of particular interest to researchers. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ATG is “abundant in the seeds, and their extracts have shown higher antioxidant activity and polyphenolic content compared to root and leaf extracts.”

As further explained in the study, “higher amounts of these phenolic compounds could provide additional brightening efficacy and anti-aging benefits to a skincare product, thus making the development of a burdock seed extract more advantageous.”

Researchers, therefore, sought to develop a burdock seed extract enriched for ATG and evaluate its efficacy in vitro​, and its safety and skin brightening efficacy in human subjects.

Trust the process 

For the research team to successfully create Arctigenin-Enriched Burdock Seed Oil or ASBO, they began with an initial burdock seed oil or BSO extract. After extracting ATG from the initial sample, researchers tested the extraction for its melanin-reducing capacity, showing a significant reduction compared to the control. 

Next, a two-step extraction process was developed to extract and enrich ATP from the BSO. “This process produced ABSO extract with ATG at 5.4% (145.1 µM), which is ~5-times the amount of ATG than its first step product BSO. Given the extensive benefits attributed to ATG,”​ researchers determined, “this enrichment provides a novel, natural source of ATG with many potential uses in the cosmeceutical space.”​ 

Having successfully derived ASBO extract, the final stage of the study was clinical testing in human subjects to determine “tolerability and skin brightening potential.​” The results of the eight-week clinical study further demonstrated that “1% ABSO lotion applied twice a day was well-tolerated and significantly improved skin tone evenness and brightness compared to baseline.​” 

Results and potential industry impact 

 “To our knowledge,”​ concludes the research team, “this will be the first quasi-drug product developed for skin brightening utilizing burdock seed oil.”​ While the extract necessitates further study, the development and successful testing of ASBO provides encouraging results for researchers worldwide formulating products to address hyperpigmentation. 

Source: Cosmetics

2023; 10(1):10.

Arctigenin-Enriched Burdock Seed Oil (ABSO): A New Skin Brightening Botanical Extract​”

Authors: Ishii T et al.

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