Good Bugs

A few close friends and colleagues of mine are avid hand washers, and on more than one occasion, I have graciously taken a little squirt of hand sanitizer from them—usually while traveling somewhere. Who can blame them? Beyond the everyday germs, in just the past year or so, several microscopic scares have made top headlines, ranging from highly resistant bacteria or “superbugs,” to salmonella-tainted tomatoes and E. coli-carrying spinach. These tiny organisms certainly can have a life-threatening impact.

Yet, as most of us know, there are also good bugs on our side that can strengthen immunity, aid in digestion and more; and these organisms are already a part of our skin’s own microflora. In fact, several reports have suggested that too much hand washing may kill off the good guys.

The food and health care industries have focused on strengthening these natural defense systems. Many yogurts, for example, are probiotics-preparations containing live bacteria that are ingested to restore the body’s natural, internal microflora balance. The personal care industry has taken interest in probiotics as well. In fact, Donald Owen, PhD, president of Owen Biosciences, stated at a conference earlier this year that studies continue to emerge on skin’s own antimicrobial peptides. “We’re loaded with a host of defense peptides,” said Owen. “They’re our basic defense mechanisms [that] can upregulate defenses—and the entire keratinocyte system is a part of it.”

Playing on a “naturals” theme this month, C&T magazine welcomes D.S. Orth’s feature, “The Probiotic Nature of Normal Microflora,”  and the companion guest “Bench & Beyond” column, “Therapeutic Activity of Probiotics.” These articles discuss how probiotics provide therapeutic activity and suggest opportunities for products to modulate the skin’s natural microflora.

Expanding the discussion from natural microflora to organics and botanicals, this issue also features K. Bispo’s article on measuring the antioxidant properties of an açaí extract. Finally, looking to the horizon for new material offerings, C. DeArmitt introduces versatile polyhedral oligomericsilsequioxanes as additives for various personal care applications. And the annual “New Raw Materials Encyclopedia” highlights the latest ingredient offerings in the personal care industry during the past year. I hope you find this issue of C&T magazine is loaded with only good stuff.

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