- Methylene blue has been used for 140 years – to stain bodily tissue in surgery, as an antidote for cyanide poisoning, and to kill bacteria in urinary tract infections
- Now scientists have found it can rejuvenate skin cells to slow the ageing process
- A team used skin samples from women over 80; the dye reduced its wrinkles
A cheap dye that is normally used to treat cyanide poisoning could hold the key to the ‘fountain of youth’, scientists say.
Methylene blue, a powerful antioxidant, has turned back the clock on the skin of people in their 80s – offering hope of an anti-wrinkle treatment ‘for all ages’.
The dye has been used in medicine for more than 140 years for a variety of things – from staining bodily tissue during surgery to killing bacteria in urinary tract infections.
It works by destroying disease-causing free radicals. Recently it’s shown promise in fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
And now scientists at the University of Maryland have found another use: anti-ageing. Lead author Professor Zheng-Mei Xiong said: ‘Methylene blue demonstrates a great potential to delay skin ageing for all ages.’
The researchers tested it for four weeks in skin cells from healthy middle-aged donors and octogenarians as well as patients diagnosed with progeria – a rare genetic disease that ages them quickly.
Methylene blue – first synthesized in 1876 – out-performed three other antioxidants N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), MitoQ and MitoTEMPO (mTEM).
Fibroblasts – skin cells that produce the structural protein collagen – experienced a decrease in damaging reactive oxygen species, a reduced rate of death and an increase in the rate of cell division throughout the treatment.
Anything that helps maintain collagen levels in the skin will keep it looking younger as natural levels of start to fall in your mid-30s.
By the age of 55 they may have fallen by 40 percent. Less collagen means skin that sags and wrinkles.
Prof Kan Cao said: ‘Our work suggests methylene blue could be a powerful antioxidant for use in skin care products.
‘The effects we are seeing are not temporary. Methylene blue appears to make fundamental, long-term changes to skin cells.’
Antioxidants help counteract the effects of free radicals – unstable molecules in our body’s cells which help speed up the ageing process
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