BACKGROUND: Skin smoothness in aging skin, in combination of intrinsic aging and photoaging, is of ever-increasing interest which leads to the development of various wrinkle diminuation products including those containing herbal medicines. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of cosmetics containing roots of Ephedra sinica and Betula platyphylla var. japonica on reducing skin furrows. METHOD: Creams containing Ephedra sinica's root and Betula platyphylla var. japonica were applied to forearms of 30 healthy subjects in 2 age groups for 8 weeks and 4 weeks, respectively while silicone skin replicas were taken from medial and lateral sides of the forearm every 4 weeks of the study starting from the week 0. Then the changes of the skin furrows were analyzed with skin visiometer. RESULTS: 1. At week 8, a significant reduction of average roughness and maximum roughness were observed in volunteers younger than age 50 on their Ephedra sinica's root-treated side compared with the placebo-treated side (p<0.05). 2. No statistically significant changes were observed with both Ephedra sinica's root and Betula platyphylla var. japonica in the group of age over 50. 3. Comparison of the changes between treatment groups of both Ephedra sinica's root and Betula platyphylla var. japonica at any assessment time did not show statistically significant differences between the medial and lateral side of forearm, while the treatment group of Ephedra sinica's root showed statistically significant differences between the young and old at week 8 (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The treatment of Ephedra sinica's root seems to be partially effective in improving skin furrows in youth. To our knowledge, this study is the first trial to evaluate the efficacy of both Ephedra sinica's root and Betula platyphylla var. japonica on decreasing wrinkle in the world.
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