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Int J Cosmet Sci. 2008 Oct;30(5):353-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2008.00463.x.

Screening of Nepalese crude drugs traditionally used to treat hyperpigmentation: in vitro tyrosinase inhibition.

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The School of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, Pokhara University, Pokhara, PO Box 427, Pokhara, Nepal.


South-East Asian population is daily exposed to strong sunlight. As a result, the majority of population will have darker, ethnic skin. Moreover, many people suffer from dark spots, hyperpigmentation, which is considered to be a skin disorder and causes psychological disturbance. To treat dark spots, most of the population will still rely on traditionally used crude drugs, knowledge about which is transferred from generation to generation. Fifty-two crude drugs were selected based on the survey performed among local healers and beauticians of different ethnic origin. These crude drugs were screened for mushroom tyrosinase inhibitory activity, as tyrosinase inhibitors are becoming increasingly important as cosmetic and medicinal products, primarily to control hyperpigmentation. Among the tested crude drugs, methanolic extracts of Glycyrrhiza glabra, Morus alba, Syzygium aromaticum, Citrus aurantifolia, Cypreae moneta, Punica granatum and Citrus aurantium, at the final concentration of 50 microg mL(-1), showed mushroom tyrosinase inhibitory activity of 78.9%, 71.0%, 69.4%, 59.0%, 56.0%, 53.4 and 51.9%, respectively, with 91.4% inhibitory activity of kojic acid taken as positive control. To our knowledge, this is the first report that extracts of Cypreae moneta shell and Syzygium aromaticum flowering bud have tyrosinase inhibitory activity. These potent extracts were further evaluated at different concentration. The final concentration of the extracts in reaction mixtures was 50, 25 and 5 microg mL(-1) for the initial concentration of 1000, 500 and 100 microg mL(-1), respectively. They showed concentration-dependent inhibition of mushroom tyrosinase. Those extracts expressing relatively weak tyrosinase inhibitory activity may act through different inhibition pathway which is not based on tyrosinase activity. Further evaluation of the most potent tyrosinase inhibitors in in vivo conditions would be recommended.

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