Life Extension Magazine®

Wheat derived ceramides being used for skin health

Visible Wrinkle Reduction with Oral Plant Ceramides

In a human study, oral plant ceramides produced an 88% visible reduction of wrinkles and a 90% increase in hydration.

Scientifically reviewed by Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Michael Downey, Health & Wellness Author.

Our skin has its own natural, built-in moisturizer: ceramides.

They make up 50% of the lipids in the outer layer of the skin and are crucial for a wrinkle-free skin appearance.1

Ceramides are part of the skin’s barrier function that enables a smooth and moist outer appearance.

With age and environmental exposure, the skin’s outer barrier and moisture are depleted.2,3

Seeking a way to revitalize aging skin, scientists have developed plant-derived ceramides that can be taken orally, working from the inside out to help restore skin to a more youthful state.

A clinical trial showed that taking a plant-ceramide extract does more than just moisturize the skin.

It reduced fine lines and wrinkles—with 88% of participants experiencing visible reduction of wrinkles and 90% experiencing greater skin hydration.4

The Need to Replenish Ceramides

Ceramides are lipids that help hold the surface skin cells together.3,5

They are essential to the skin’s barrier function and moisture content, both of which decrease with age.2,3

Ceramides are natural skin constituents that help keep skin moist and soft, and protect against damage from pollution and other environmental stresses.

Alterations to the skin’s barrier function and moisture content contribute to wrinkles and dry skin, and make skin more susceptible to environmental allergens, infections, and skin disorders.2,6

The solution: Plant-derived ceramides—or phytoceramides—that can be taken orally.

doctor looking into microscope

What You Need to Know

Get Younger, Healthier Skin

  • Natural lipids known as ceramides play an essential role in the water-retaining properties of the skin, which are critical to preserving skin’s smooth, youthful appearance.

  • Ceramides are essential to the skin’s barrier function and moisture content.

  • Clinical trials have shown that, when taken orally, plant ceramides are transported through the bloodstream and deep into the cells of the skin. There, they work from the inside out to improve skin hydration, smoothness, and suppleness.

  • A recent, landmark study demonstrates that oral, wheat-derived ceramides significantly reduce wrinkles and fine lines and effectively hydrate and rejuvenate the skin.

The Superiority of Oral Ceramides

Researchers discovered that ceramides are found in large quantities in grains such as rice, corn, and wheat.7,8

Using non-genetically modified wheat, they created an extract containing purified gluten-free oils.8

This wheat-derived ceramide extract is taken orally to nourish skin cells in the same way as the body’s natural supply of ceramides.

By circulating internally through the bloodstream, these ceramides are able to penetrate into the deepest skin cell layers, where they can hydrate, smooth, and help regenerate skin all over the body.8,9

Skin Rejuvenation

photo illustration of woman superimposed with close-up of skin cells

In one lab study, ceramide extract effectively hydrated and rejuvenated human skin.10

One way it does this is to inhibit enzymes that destroy elastin (which provides resilience to the skin). These elastin-destroying enzymes contribute to increased wrinkling and loss of skin flexibility.11,12

Ceramides were also shown to slow the hyperpigmentation that can cause age spots and other unwanted discolorations.13-15

To conclusively demonstrate wheat-derived ceramides’ effect on aging skin, investigators conducted a series of double-blind, placebo-controlled human studies.

The first involved giving 200 mg daily of either a placebo or an oral ceramide extract to women with dry to very dry skin.9

After three months, the ceramide group experienced substantial improvement in skin hydration, along with significant reductions in dry patches, roughness, and itching. The placebo group had no changes.9

In another clinical trial, women with dry to very dry skin took 350 mg daily of either wheat-derived, ceramide-oil extract or a placebo.8

In three months, the ceramide oil significantly increased skin hydration all over the body.

On the arms, hydration increased by over 35%, compared to less than 1% in the placebo group.8

When volunteers were asked to rate their own views, the ceramide extract was perceived to provide greater improvement in all factors. These included facial skin hydration, leg skin hydration, suppleness, roughness, uniformity of complexion, itchiness, and overall state of the skin.8

Why Aging Skin Needs Ceramides

The most visible signs of aging occur in the outer skin layer, the stratum corneum.

The stratum corneum is composed of flattened, hard, dead skin cells that resemble overlapping bricks, which start as living cells in the lower skin layers. As they are pushed closer to the surface, they flatten out and die, providing a thin but very tough barrier.29

These flat cells would immediately flake away if they were not held together by a kind of flexible skin cement—ceramides.8 If you think of the dead skin cells as bricks, the ceramides are the mortar between them that holds them in place.

Together, these flat cells and the flexible, lipid-rich cement act as a two-way barrier, keeping out germs, toxins, and other contaminants, and keeping in moisture. The result is healthy, flexible, and supple skin.30

Cells in the stratum corneum are constantly replaced by living cells in the deeper skin layers.29 And the ceramides and other lipids holding them together are replenished by nutrients brought to the deeper skin layers by the bloodstream.31

That’s how it works in youth.

Studies show that after age 50 or so, new outer layer skin cells take more than 50% longer to reach the surface.32 The amount of lipids supporting these cells also declines, with ceramides among the first to go.33-35

As a result, the “cement” that holds the skin cells together is weakened and loses much of its moisture-barrier function.35 Lost moisture results in the dry, wrinkle-prone skin common in older adults.33,35,36

In addition, the skin is damaged by oxidative stress and chronic inflammation,37 which trigger production of enzymes that degrade skin proteins. Among their chief targets are collagen, the main, structural skin protein, and elastin, which gives skin its suppleness and flexibility.38 Chronic exposure to sunlight aggravates the destruction of these proteins.33,39-41

Ceramides act as a natural sealing agent from inside the body. They’re delivered by the bloodstream, then make their way up through deeper skin layers until they’re deposited in the stratum corneum.31

Oral ceramides can replenish the skin’s supply, leading to reduced wrinkles, improved hydration, and rejuvenated skin.4,8,9

Additional Findings

woman with healthy skin

A clinical trial demonstrated the most impressive results yet, showing that plant ceramides can reverse age-related wrinkling and dryness.

Sixty-four women, aged 42 to 66, were given either 350 mg of the oral ceramide extract or a placebo daily for 12 weeks.4

The ceramide extract:4

  • Increased skin hydration for 75% of the women after four weeks,

  • Increased skin hydration for 90% of the women after 12 weeks,

  • Visibly reduced wrinkles around the eyes (“crow’s feet”) for 88% of the participants after 12 weeks,

  • Visibly reduced wrinkles through 20 weeks—a full eight weeks after participants stopped taking ceramides, showing long-term benefits, and

  • Improved radiance and reduced dullness around the eye area after eight weeks.

Compared to the placebo, the ceramide extract led to:4

  • 3 times the reduction in wrinkle visibility,

  • Nearly 3 times the improvement in facial-skin hydration, and

  • 5 times the improvement in skin radiance.

Ceramides and Dermatitis

Scientists have discovered that many skin disorders are connected to a decrease in ceramides.3

For example, patients with psoriasis (a chronic skin condition marked by a scaly, itchy rash) and atopic dermatitis (a condition that makes skin red and itchy) have lower levels of ceramides in the outer skin layer.16-18

Scientists found that using topical creams and increasing ceramide content in the skin alleviated atopic dermatitis in children and adults. Ceramides also relieved contact dermatitis (caused by an allergen or irritant) in patients, more than topical treatments alone.19,20

Dermatitis is more than an inconvenience. Patients with the condition have higher concentrations of bacteria, especially Staphylococcus aureus, on the skin surface.21,22

This bacterium is dangerous, causing skin infections, pneumonia, and heart valve and bone infections.23 Ceramides help protect against the damage Staphylococcus aureus can do.24-26

Compromised skin integrity increases the chance of bacterial infections that strike during other illnesses and are often resistant to drugs.27,28


Picture of sun rising over wheat field, blue sky

Ceramides are essential to the skin’s barrier function and moisture content.

Ceramides are natural lipids that function as natural skin moisturizers. Losing them leaves skin vulnerable to wrinkles, dryness, infections, and skin diseases.

Researchers developed an oral, wheat-derived ceramide extract that supports skin from within the body.

Clinical trials confirm that it substantially boosts skin hydration, smoothness, and suppleness.

The most recent study demonstrates that these plant ceramides reduce fine lines and wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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