Thursday, August 5, 2010

Snake Venom, Is This The New Botox?

The Snake That Bit Me

Well after seeing an episode of "The Doctors", my curiosity was piqued over a new ingredient being utilized in various skin creams. Don't remember the name of the cream they promoted, but only the ingredient as the next miracle cure for the aging process.

They were touting that the ingredient which is synthetic snake venom, a small peptide which mimics the polypeptide found in the venom of the Wagler's Temple Pit Viper, would perform similarly to Botox, yet without enduring the injections.

Now... since I have a natural aversion to snakes, I find it all to be a bit unsettling. I don't quite get the marketing premise, promoting smearing snake venom or its' derivative on ones' skin. Making this skin cream an adjunct to snake venom and equating a toxin with younger skin, I am just not making that association.

The whole thing sort of creeps me out personally...but then again I am not crazy about pumping botulism up under my skin either.

The Closed Study

Pentapharm, a pharmaceutical and cosmetic R & D company, and the creator of this ingredient through their research on snake venom, which is referred to as SYN-AKE, or under INCI, as Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, claims it acts the same as venom, a neuro toxin, blocking neurotransmitters which freeze, or as they like to refer to it in press releases, as "kill" the aging process through reduction of muscle activity, whereby causing their relaxation when applied topically.

Now I would like to point out, the in vivo study they performed was not peer reviewed or independently tested, nor was identified as a "blind study". It was extremely short term, only lasting 28 days, conducted on 45 volunteers. They further stipulate that wrinkles are smoothed and not as deep.

Okay,....let's go with let's ignore the fact that any good skin cream with a complex blend of what we would consider the "good stuff", will have similar effect utilizing other anti aging ingredients. Since the study does not disclose the placebo and only used acetyl hexapeptide-3, this in comparison may show benefit. However, this also created a completely controlled, limited study without providing all the necessary data to prove or disprove the benefit of this latest "fad" ingredient against others. Basically it was peptide against peptide.

Then they point out that in vitro studies showed a remarkable improvement as much as 82%. Wow...that's significant. Never mind the fact that in vitro is completely controlled and can be manipulated to whatever the researcher needs it to be. In fact, it is this very type of testing, and a perfect example which has got so many of us in the cosmetic biz upset with EWG, since this is most of their configured data proving supposed harm to humans, yet no human studies have been proven to show same.

In vitro as described by Wikipedia: Short Version; A procedure performed in vitro (Latin: within the glass) is performed not in a living organism but in a controlled environment, such as in a test tube or Petri dish. Many experiments in cellular biology are conducted outside of organisms or cells; because the test conditions may not correspond to the conditions inside of the organism, this may lead to results that do not correspond to the situation that arises in a living organism. Consequently, such experimental results are often annotated with in vitro, in contradistinction with in vivo.

Ask yourself this question on in vitro versus in vivo; Why such better results in the petri dish, yet on human tissue, and only on a single volunteer, they claim 52% improvement?

I don't consider this remarkable at all...out of 45 volunteers only a single one had this type of results claimed. To me that is the equivalent of testing any ingredient on 45 people and only one got a rash.

Pentapharms' Research Data, PDF

Truth Or Hype

There is no doubt that peptides have been shown to increase resilience of skin, helping to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, as has many other great ingredients designed for the purpose of achieving similar results.

However, the claim of freezing the muscles temporarily would also have to mean that this penetrates deep within the dermis, then to the muscle, causing a type of paralysis similar to Botox. After all it is facial muscle repetition which creates our frown and laugh lines.

So when looking at an actual snake bite where the neurotoxin goes about the work of paralyzing the victim and then killing them, the snake clearly injects venom through its' fangs deep into the muscle, also entering the blood stream. There is nothing topical about this action.

Similarly again, look at Botox, it must be injected into the facial muscles in order to paralyze them, giving the face a frozen look. I mean really, if skin could take up ingredients like EWG (negative aspect) and many large cosmetic firms (positive aspect) want us to believe, then we could slather Botox on our skin and not endure the pain of sticking a needle in our face. In fact, this analogy is something to consider, if you were to stick your hand in a glass of vodka, or whatever is your poison, you should be able to get drunk without having to suffer the empty calories through internal's that theory workin' for ya?

So does common sense dictate this is the new anti aging ingredient? You decide!

For me, I believe snake venom is just another snake oil designed to dupe us into believing this is the next fountain of youth in a jar. But hey, if it sells skin cream, I guess it is okay to overstep federal regulation.....yes?!

Internet Claims Abound

Now along with researching this ingredient, I also located many formulations touting this ingredient and how the skin is tighter, more toned, fewer wrinkles, etc. etc.

Make no mistake, this may be true in regard to the overall emulsion, but let's not pin our hopes on the synthetic snake venom, since toning and tightening of the skin will come from a multitude of other it all depends on what else is in these skin creams.

Is It A Drug?

All of the companies I located utilizing this ingredient are also crossing the "drug claim" line with their anti aging, anti wrinkle claims. Making these claims based on the study put out by Pentapharm and using the descriptive SYN-AKE, does not make the claim accurate. Without the FDA approved testing of this ingredient with efficacy numbers stated as they relate to a finished emulsion, like in the studies performed by its' creator, these companies using this ingredient are in violation of FDA and FTC regulations. However, including the creator of this ingredient, there are no monographs present such as "active" on any ingredient deck with percentage of efficacy, warning statements, dosage, intended use and so on, clearly stated on the label, as "drugs" must have. At least I didn't find any on the ones I could locate.

Botox is clearly an injectable drug. Usually administered by a doctor, or plastic surgeon. This equation by those to botox, which are using it in their formulas, is not at all the same thing, yet they go over the edge of making the "drug" claim.

Pentapharm recommends 1-4% added to the solution it is used in. But the question remains for the companies using it....have they tested their emulsion with these ratios and proven that efficacy was retained and results are similar or exacting of the non peer reviewed study of Pentapharm which were performed at 4% ratio? Highly doubtful!

Craze Happy

This is the latest craze and it certainly won't be the last, but topical application means just that,"topical", not into nerves or blood or muscle tissue....but topical..... and, many luxurious skin creams will work to treat the surface of the skin, and only a few of those may go as deep as the dermis with only as much improvement as one cream can accomplish.

Close those purse strings, because this is the new marketing hype surrounding this ingredient, and based strictly on, because it is the new found "craze".

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