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Lactoferrin for acne

Lactoferrin for Acne: The Holy Grail for Clear Skin?

What if you’ve tried every single acne product on the skin care shelves and none of these have cleared up your face yet? While proper skin care routine still plays a very important role in acne management and treatment, there are available oral supplements containing Lactoferrin, that claim to give you the clear skin you always dreamed of.

 

Lactezin by Unilab

Lactoferrin containing Lactezin

Lactezin: Lactoferrin + d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate + Zinc by Unilab (Available at all drugstores in the Philippines)

 

Acne Care by Vida Nutriscience

AcneCare by Vida Nutri Science: Lactoferrin; Linumlife Extra; Zinc Gluconate

AcneCare by Vida Nutri Science: Lactoferrin; Linumlife Extra; Zinc Gluconate (Available at Lazada and most drugstores)

 

What is Lactoferrin?

An image of Bovine Lactoferrin. Source:  Moore SA et al (1997)

Lactoferrin is a protein that is naturally present in tears, saliva, vaginal fluids, semen nasal and bronchial secretions, bile, gastrointestinal fluids, urine and most highly in milk. This protein is involved in several functions in our bodies like iron absorption in the bowel, immune response, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammaatory and antimicrobial properties. [1] In short, this chemical is totally not foreign in our bodies and we naturally produce them for different biological functions.

 

Let’s Take a Look at the Research:

The first time I heard of the product more than 2 years ago, I took all the claims with a grain of salt. Most of the studies available online were “exploratory”. There wasn’t enough literature that could convince me it’s worth the money. I was not sure if I could recommend it to friends who are suffering in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.

Research of Lactoferrin

It was not until I looked it up again online lately and saw a 2017 a randomized, double-blind, placebo control  study from the International Journal of Dermatology.  

Research on Lactoferrin

 

Note on Randomized, Double-Blind, Place Controlled Studies:

Randomized– the decision about whether a patient in the trial receives the new treatment or the control treatment (or placebo) is made randomly

Double Blind – the patients and the physicians treating and assessing those patients are unaware of who is in the active treatment group .

Placebo Controlled – A placebo is an inactive substance (often a sugar pill) given to a patient in place of medication. A placebo-controlled study uses a placebo substance as control group for comparison or reference.

Randomized Controlled study is considered the gold standard of clinical testing applied to medical intervention. Well in short finally, A Legit Study

A double Blind study

A Double blind study

Lactezin interests me more  because of a research on Lactoferrin in combination with d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate and Zinc. It’s important to note though that there is a conflict of interest,  but is fully disclosed in the study. This research is funded by United Laboratories (or UNILAB), which is the manufacturer of Lactezin. A published research by its manufacturer for me, makes it superior than other Lactoferrin containing supplements currently available in the Philippines as of time of writing. Despite the declared conflict of interest, the efficacy of Lactoferrin cannot be discounted as many published studies has shown positive effect of Lactoferrin as treatment of acne vulgaris.

A conflict of interest: This research is funded by Unilab

 

How does Lactoferrin Treat Acne?

Available literature suggests different mechanisms on how Lactoferrin treats or improves the appearance of acne. Let me break it down to thee major mechanisms (let’s put our nerdface on):

1. Lactoferrin targets a wide range of mircroorganisms

Interestingly, Lactoferrin can target bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics. If you are suffering cystic acne and have been prescribed with antibiotics as treatment but didn’t get desirable results, Lactoferrin might be a supplement to consider as it targets bacteria and fungus that may be resistant to antibiotics

The picture above shows the two classes of bacteria according to their cell walls. Lactoferrin can have anti-bacterial action to both Gram Negative and Gram Positive Bacteria. Source: S.A. González-Chávez et al (2009) [1]

2. Anti-inflammatory Properties

Most acne get inflamed – it is when the area under the “plug” creates that ugly red bump that is usually painful to touch. Lactoferrin has interesting properties against inflamed acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties that has been shown and proven in several literature [2,3,4]. Lactoferrin has shown to promote skin immunity and inhibit allergic responses.

Skin with inflamed acne

Skin with inflamed acne

3.  Lactoferrin Improves Gut Health

gut health

Acne isn’t so much a condition of the skin as it is a condition of the gut.

But what does my gut has to do with my acne? You can think of it this way: Your skin is the external organ exposed to the environment while your gastrointestinal tract is the group of organs that deal with everything you eat, drink and breathe. Remember that everything you eat can directly affect your skin. How the food that you eat is metabolized and broken down by your gut can influence so much on your overall skin appearance.

A study has found out that Lactoferrin can improve the overall condition of the gut. It can promote proliferation of lactic acid bacteria like lactobacillus in the gut which can maintain adequate stomach acid. Research has shown that 40% of those with acne have hypochlorhydria – a condition where there is not enough acid in the stomach. [6]

 

Zinc and Vitamin E: The Other Active Substances

You might have noticed that Lactoferrin is usually combined with Zinc and for Lactezin’s case, d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate.

1. Zinc

zinc

Zinc has been used to treat acne vulgaris since scientist Fitzherbert found out in 1970s that zinc deficiency is common to patients with skin disorders. It has not been fully understood how zinc can improve patients with acne conditions but current knowledge suggests common mechanisms: its anti-inflammatory properties, direct inhibition of acne-causing bacteria and its involvement in wound healing. [7].

 

2. d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate

 

D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate Molecule

D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate Molecule

D-alpha tocopheryl acetate is a naturally occurring form of vitamin E, which is known as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that  provide skin conditioning effects.

 

Is it Effective? – Results from Real Users

heya It’s Yoh Girl Anne Porter (I took this photo about the time I was using Lactezin which somehow improved my period acne. The result isn’t conclusive though as I was using other acne products to hasten the healing process)

So this is me, and I admit, I do not have before and after photos to show. I got to say I’m lucky that I do not have severe acne problems except for occasional breakouts which usually happens around my period or when I’m consistently too lazy to wash my face before bed. I tried Lactezin for a week for the heck of it, and it did’t give me undesirable effects.  Neither did I notice any improvement. Not only that the time period of  the trial is short, also  because I didn’t have any acne when I tried the product.

Having myself as the test subject isn’t really helpful to give you useful insight about the Lactoferrin. However, I have friends to whom I recommended the product. Most of them have stubborn acne problems where any topical acne products failed to work. All three of them have successfully got rid of their acne after three to four weeks taking Lactoferrin from Lactezin.

To save your time, I have summarized some of the trusted blogs and reviews of real users of the product:

  1. Joarra in her blog the Rookie Mommy have noticed difference the day after taking the pill. She observed noticeable results after a week. (She takes 1 capsule a day while taking grapeseed oil capsule before bed)
  2. Jackie in her blog Go Jackie Go  claimed an improvement in her skin texture after using it for two weeks (she does not have bad acne problem before using the product)
  3. Felicita in her blog Felicita in a Wonderland  has seen results after taking two capsules day and night for one straight week.

 

Important Take-Away Notes:

One man’s potion can be another man’s poison – this holds true to both topical and oral skin products. Always remember that our bodies may respond differently to different products. If your acne is not caused by certain mechanisms targeted by the molecule Lactoferrin, then definitely, the product will not work for you. Sadly, there is no other way to know if this work for you but to try it. If the product do not give immediate results but neither give adverse effect, be patient and continue using for a month or two since most studies have seen positive results after continuous use for 2 to 3 months. Adverse effects should occur within the first week of use so you can immediately discontinue the product when this happens.

This post should not replace professional advice. Consult your doctor prior to taking any supplement especially if you have health complications or taking other medications.

Sources:

[1] Gonzales-Chavez S.A et al (2009)  Lactoferrin: structure, function and application, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Vol 33 pp 301 e2 – 301.e8

[2] [58] Baker EN, Baker HM. Lactoferrin molecular structure, binding properties and dynamics of lactoferrin. Cell Mol Life Sci 2005;62:2531–9.

[3] Shimizu K, Matsuzawa H, Okada K, Tazume S, Dosako S, Kawasaki Y, et al. Lactoferrin-mediated protection of the host from murine cytomegalovirus infection by T-cell-dependent augmentation of natural killer cell activity. Arch Virol 1996;141:1875–89.

[4] Oztas ER, Ozgunes N. Lactoferrin: a multifunctional protein. Adv Mol Med 2005;1:149–54.

[5] Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathogens, 3(1), 1. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-1

[6] Moore SA, Anderson BF, Groom CR, Haridas M, Baker EN. Three-dimensional structure of diferric bovine lactoferrin at 2.8Å resolution. J Mol Biol 1997;274:222–36.

Article written by:

Anne Porter

Hi! I’m Anne. I am a chemical engineer from Cebu, Philippines. I created Zarins Beautylab because of my love for cosmetics, skin care products and all other stuff that makes me (and you) look and feel beautiful. My semesters of chemistry courses come in handy as I explain the science behind different beauty products: which works and how it works. Well, Sometimes its science and sometimes its just good ol’ common sense.

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