COLLOIDAL SILICIC ACID FOR ORAL AND TOPICAL TREATMENT OF AGED SKIN, FRAGILE HAIR AND BRITTLE NAILS IN FEMALES

Colloidal Silicic Acid for Oral and Topical Treatment of Aged Skin, Fragile Hair and Brittle Nails in Females 

A LASSUS 

Helsinki Research Centre, Helsinki, Finland 

In an open study, women with biologically aged skin and fragile or thin hair, or brittle nails were treated orally with 10 ml colloidal silicic acid (Silicol'") once daily for 90 days and applied colloidal silicic acid to the face for 10 min twice daily. Ofthe 50 subjects treated, three withdrew from treatment after 30 days because of excessive drying of the facial skin due to topical application. In the remaining 47 subjects there was statistically significant improvement in the thickness and turgor of the skin, wrinkles and condition of the hair and nails. The number of mottles also declined, but the change was not statistically significant. Ultrasound measurements did not detect any statistically significant change in the thickness of the epidermis or elasticity of the skin, but there was a significant increase in the thickness of the dermis. 

Im Rahmen eines offenen Studiums wurden Frauen mit biologisch gealteter Haut und briichigem oder diinnem Haar oder brtichigen Nageln tiber eine Spanne von 90 Tagen taglich einmal 10 ml kolloidale Kieselsaure [Stlicol"] oral verabreicht. Die Frauen trugen zudem zweimal taglich kolloidale Kieselsaure auf das Gesicht auf. Von den 50 Behandelten brachen drei die Behandlung aufgrund eines ubermalligen Austrocknens der Gesichtshaut durch ausserliche Anwendung nach drei6ig Tagen abo Bei den 

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restlichen 47 Behandelten wurde eine statistisch wesentliche Verbesserung der Dicke und des Turgors der Haut, der Falten und der Beschaffenheit von Haar und Nageln verzeichnet. Auch die Anzahl der Hautflecken nahm ab, aber die Anderung war statistisch unbedeutend. Ultraschallmessungen ergaben keine statistisch bedeutende Anderung der Dicke der Epidermis oder der Elastizitat der Haut, die Dicke der Dermis hatte aber wesentlich zugenommen. 

KEY WORDS: COLLOIDAL SILICIC ACID; ORAL AND TOPICAL APPLICATION; 

BIOLOGICALLY AGED SKIN; FRAGILE HAIR; THIN HAIR; BRITTLE NAILS 

INTRODUCTION Silicon, after oxygen, is the most prevalent element on Earth and crystalline silica in the form of quartz is the most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust. Silicon has been found in ash produced from most plants and ani- mal tissues but the amounts are usually so small that it was thought, until quite recently, that the element was not physio- logically important in higher plants and animals. 

The fact that all plants grown in soil con- tain silicon has led to the suggestion that sili- con may be an essential element for plants. As yet, little is known of the function of sili- con in plants and more information is required on the forms and concentrations in which it occurs. It has been established, however, that the variation in silicon content between species can be considerable: for example, cereal grains rich in fibres have a much higher silicon content than low-fibre grains. 

Values for the silicon content of tissues 

Silicol" is the trademark of Saguna GmbH, Germany. 

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reported by some early French and German workers varied considerably because of the problems of eliminating interference due to phosphorus during the microdetermination of silicon in biological tissue;' early work on the silicon levels has been reviewed by King and Belt. z Improved analytical methods have become available and all tissues assayed for silicon by one group of workers were found to contain traces of the element at least and, in many instances, the amounts were of the order of those of other mineral elements that have been recognized as being normal tissue constituents. 

In human tissues, epidermis and hair con- tain relatively high concentrations of silicon. Silicic acid in the human normal diet is readily absorbed across the intestinal wall and excreted in the urine: the daily silicon output is approximately 9 mg. The element accumulates in the cornified epidermis on the surface of the skin and in the epicutic1e of hair, as well as in the wool and feathers of other animals, in an alkali-insoluble com- ponent constituting 0.4 - 1.7% of the total tissue weight.v' By contrast, the normal human blood concentrations of silicon are 

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alogical less than 5 ppm." Connective tissues also 

studies that phosphorus can be sub- appear to be rich in silicon according to 

stituted by sodium, potassium, manganese, studies in several animal species. In the rat, 

strontium, magnesium and carbon in natural for example, the aorta, trachea and tendons 

fluorapatite. Furthermore, in the mineral are four to five times richer in silicon com- 

ellastadite, a crystalline isomorph of apatite, pared with other tissues such as liver, heart 

silicon and/or sulphur can completely and muscles. Connective tissues consist of a 

replace phosphorus." complex of cells, fibrous structures and an 

Silicon has been shown to be localized in amorphous ground substance or matrix com- 

active growth areas of the bones of young prising mainly of mucopolysaccharides. 

mice." The amount of silicon present in very Fibrillar and ground substance materials, 

restricted areas within these active growth which are present in large amounts, give 

areas appears to be related to the 'maturity' connective tissues their main charac- 

of the bone. In general, embryonic or rapidly teristics.

growing tissues have much higher muco- A series of experiments has helped in 

polysaccharide concentrations than adult or establishing that silicon is an essential 

ageing tissue. It is not surprising, therefore, element,' beginning with in vitro studies on 

that a relationship exists between silicon and the calcification processes in young bone fol- 

ageing of certain tissues, because silicon has lowed by in vivo studies, which demon- 

been shown to be a component of the muco- strated an effect of silicon on the extent of 

polysaccharides.' The silicon content in the bone mineralization. Of particular import- 

aorta, skin and thymus has been found to ance, however, was the establishment of the 

decline significantly with age in contrast to fact that a deficiency of silicon in the diet 

other tissues analysed, which showed little resulted in abnormal growth, whereas 

or no change. growth was normal when a diet sup- 

Premature ageing of the skin either due to plemented with silicon was fed." 

excessive exposure to sunlight or biological Silicon, therefore, appears to meet the two 

reasons is an increasing problem. Aged skin criteria for an essential element: dietary sup- 

is a clinical entity, which includes thinning plements of the element result in repeated 

of the skin, laxity, wrinkles, mottling and and significant favourable responses in terms 

leathery dryness with variable premalignant of growth and health; and a deficiency state 

and malignant neoplasms. develops when diets that are otherwise 

Histologically aged skin shows different adequate and satisfactory lack this element." 

structural changes. Accumulation of tangled, In the case of silicon, the nature of the symp- 

thickened and abnormal elastic fibres are toms that arise when fed a silicon-deficient 

observed.F:" There is a simultaneous great diet give indications of its metabolic role and 

loss of collagen and an increase in ground site of action. 

substance glucosarninoglycans." In the end- Evidence from biological studies indi- 

stage the dermal matrix is almost completely cates that elements other than calcium, phos- 

degenerated into an amorphous mass. The phorus and magnesium play a role in bone 

dissolution of the collagen and elastin net metabolism:" for example, fluorine and zinc 

causes laxity and loss of resilience. are now widely recognized, it being shown 

In the present study the combined effect that small amounts of fluorine can bring 

of an oral and topically applied colloidal sil- about changes in the properties of bone apa- 

icic acid on aged skin in females was tite. McConnell' has demonstrated in miner- 

investigated. 

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PATIENTS AND METHODS 

PATIENTS A total of 50 females with signs of ageing of their facial skin and with fragile and thin hair, and/or brittle nails were enrolled in the study. The mean age of the study population was 48 years (range 38 - 64 years) and the mean duration of skin changes was 9 years (range 3 - 20 years). All study subjects were in good health and did not use any concomi- tant medication, which was judged to poten- tially influence the study results. All study subjects gave informed oral consent prior to the start of the study. 

STUDY DESIGN The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of a once-daily oral dose (10 ml) of col- loidal silicic acid (Silicol"] and twice-daily topical application of colloidal silicic acid for 10 minutes. The investigation was carried out as an open, uncontrolled study and the treatment period was 90 days. 

All the treated females were examined at baseline and after 30, 60 and 90 days of treat- ment. At each visit the following parameters were clinically evaluated and graded using a four-point scale (0 = absent, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe). At each visit the epi- dermal and dermal thicknesses were measured by using a Dermascan C scanner (Cortex Ltd, Denmark)." Skin turgor was measured with Dermaflex A equipment (Cortex Ltd, Denmark) using a negative pressure of 250 mml-Ig." In addition, subjec- tive comments regarding the treatment results, as well as possible adverse effects or unexpected events, were recorded. 

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS For statistical analysis a two tailed Student's t-test and signed test were used. 

212RESULTS After 30 days' treatment three women with- drew because of excessive drying of the skin due to topical application. These patients were excluded from analysis of the treatment efficacy. The remaining 47 females com- pleted the treatment in accordance with the study protocol and it was possible to evalu- ate them for both the efficacy and adverse reactions of the treatment. 

The results of the clinical evaluations are illustrated in Fig. 1. At baseline, with the exception of one patient, all had reduced skin thickness (mean score 2.0) or decreased turgor (mean score 1.9). After 90 days' treat- ment, the mean score for both parameters had decreased to 1.3; both changes reached statistical significance (P < 0.01). Mottles occurred in 35 (74.5%) patients at baseline with a mean score of 2.3 which after 90 days had declined to a mean score of 2.0; this dif- ference was not statistically significant. Wrinkles could be observed in all patients at baseline (mean score 2.2) and in 32 subjects after 90 days; the difference was statistically significant (P < 0.05). Approximately half of the patients evaluated had dry skin before treatment (mean score 2.3) and seven had dry facial skin after topical treatment (mean score 2.7); the difference was not statistically significant. The hair was fragile prior to sili- con treatment in 15 patients at baseline (mean score 1.9) and in seven patients after treatment (mean score 1.3) (P < 0.1). Thin hair could be observed in 17 patients before treatment (mean score 1.8) and in seven after treatment (mean score 0.9, P < 0.01). Brittle nails occurred in 21 patients (mean score 1.9) before treatment and in 10 after treat- ment (mean score 1.0, P < 0.01). 

Changes in epidermal and dermal thick- ness are presented in Table 1. The mean epi- dermal thickness increased by 0.03 mm, (19%) and the dermal thickness by 0.26 mm 

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2.9 2.7 2.5 2.3 2.1 1.9 1.7 1.5 1.3 1.1 0.9 

1": 

---- Brittle nails ------ Thin hair --------- Fragile hair Q): . : . ~ ~ . :.: . <5o(/)Cell :2 Q) ... - .. - - Dryness .- Mottles .. , - _.. -- - Wrinkles - . - - - . Decreasedturgor 

- - - - - - - Thinning of skin 

30 60 

90 '. Time (days) Changes in skin, nails and hair measured on a four-point scale (0 = absent, 3 = severe) in 47 patients with biologically aged skin treated orally with 10 ml colloidal silicic acid once daily and who applied colloidal silicic acid twice daily to the face for 90 days. 

Changes in skin thickness and elasticity in 47 patients with biologically aged skin treated orally with 10 ml colloidal silicic acid and who applied colloidal silicic acid twice daily to the face for 90 days 

Total skin Epidermal Dermal Elasticity thickness thickness thickness index Time (mm) (mm) (mm) (%) 

Baseline 1.06 ± O.OS 0.16 ± 0.03 0.90 ± 0.07 55±2 Day 30 1.13 ± 0.04 0.16 ± 0.02 0.97 ± 0.07 54 ± 1 Day 60 1.22 ± 0.05 0.17 ± 0.01 1.05± 0.06 57±2 Day 90 1.35 ± 0.07 0.19 ± 0.03 1.16 ± o.os- 60 ± 1 Change 21% 19% 29% 9% 

"P < 0.01 compared with baseline. 

(29%) and after 90 days the elasticity index increased from 55% to 60%. The changes in epidermal thickness and elasticity index were not significant but the increase in der- mal thickness was significant (P < 0.01). The only adverse effect observed was drying of the topically treated skin areas in seven 

patients. This adverse event did not result in any patients withdrawing from the study. 

DISCUSSION Leslie et aI.17 found a decline in silicon con- tent with age in rat skin compared with other 

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tissues, such as brain, liver, spleen, lung and femur, where the silicon content increased. In muscles and tendon no significant changes in silicon content with age were detected in rats. In human skin the silicon content of the dermis has been reported to diminish with age." It has also been reported by French investigators" that the silicon content of the normal human aorta decreased considerably with age in contrast to an earl- ier finding and that the concentrations of silicon in the arterial walls declined with the development of atherosclerosis." It is especially interesting that studies by other French workers on the changes in absorption and resulting concentrations of silicon showed that silicon levels in the blood and intestinal tissue of rats varied with age, sex and various endocrine glands." It was con- cluded that the decline in hormonal activity in senescense could well account for the modifications in silicon observed in aged animals." 

REFERENCES 

1 Fessenden RJ, Fessenden JS: The biologi- cal properties of silicon compounds. Adv Drug Res 1987; 4: 95. 2 King EJ, Belt TH: The physiological and pathological aspects of silica. Pliysiol Rev 1938; 18: 239 - 365. 3 Carlisle RM: Silicon: An essential element for the chick. Science 1972; 178: 619 - 621. 4 Fregert S: Studies on silicon in tissues with special reference to skin. J Invest Dermatoll958; 31: 95 - 96. 5 Underwood EJ: Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition. New York: Academic Press, 1971. 6 Fregert S: Studies on silicon in tissues with special reference to skin. Acta Derm 

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The present study showed that an oral dose of colloidal silicic acid, which is all natural, non-toxic and dermatologically tested product when combined with topical use had a beneficial effect on biologically aged skin structure, when used for 90 days. This is probably due to the biological effects of silicic acid as well as to the good intesti- nal absorption of colloidal silicic acid. 

In the current study the application of colloidal silicic acid brought about an improvement in the skin, hair and nails of the women treated. Although excessive dry- ing of the facial skin was observed in some subjects, no further adverse effects could be detected; thus suggesting that colloidal sil- icic acid may provide a useful alternative for the treatment of biologically aged skin. Treatment results with colloidal silicic acid in this study indicated the added advantage that, after 90 days, the hair was significantly thicker and less fragile and the patients' nails were less brittle. 

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Connective Tissue (Turnbridge RE, ed). Springfield: Charles C Thomas, 1957; pp 144 -156. 13 Gross J, Schmitt FO: The structure of human skin collagen as studied with the electron microscope. Exp Med 1948; 88: 555 - 567. 14 Parry DAD, Barnes CRS, Craig AS: A comparison of the size distribution of col- lagen fibrils in connective tissues as a function of age and a possible relation between fibril size distribution and mechanical properties. Proc R Soc Land [BioI] 1978; 203: 305 - 321. 15 Serup J, Holm P, Stender I-M, et al: Skin atrophy and telangiectasia after topical corticosteroids as measured non-invas- ively with high frequency ultrasound, evaporimetry and laser flowmetry: methodological aspects including evalu- ations of regional differences. Bioeng Skin 1987; 3: 43 - 58. 16 Serup J, Norteved A: Skin elasticity in psoriasis: in vivo measurement of tensile distensibility, hysteresis and resilient distension with a new method: compari- son with skin thickness as measured with high-frequency ultrasound. J Dermatol (Tokyo) 1985; 12: 318 - 324. 

17 Leslie JG, Kung-Ying TK, McGavack TH: Silicon in biological material. II. Vari- ations in silicon contents in tissues of rat at different ages. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1962; 110: 218 - 220. 18 Loeper J, Loeper J, Lemaire A: Etude du silicum en biologie animale et au cours de l'atherome. Presse Med 1966; 74: 865- 868. 19 Charnot Y, Perez G: Contribution a I'etude de la regulation endocrinienne du metabolisms silicique. Ann Endocrinol (Paris) 1971; 32: 397 - 402. 20 Sams VM, Smith JG [r: Alterations in human dermal fibrous connective tissue with age and chronic sun damage. In: Advances in Biology of Skin, vol 6 (Montagna W, ed). New York, Pergamon Press, 1965; pp 199 - 210. 

A Lassus Colloidal Silicic Acid for Oral and Topical Treatment of Aged Skin, Fragile Hair and Brittle Nails in Females The Journal ofInternational Medical Research 1993; 21: 209 - 215 Received for publication 3 July 1992 Accepted 15 July 1992 © Copyright 1993 Cambridge Medical Publications 

Address for correspondence 

DRALASSUS Helsinki Research Centre, Stora Robertsgatan BA1, 00120 Helsinki, Finland. 

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