Houttuynia cordata is a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. It is eaten as a leaf vegetable, and also has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, including as an attempted treatment for SARS (it didn’t really work). Regarding cosmetics, however, houttuynia cordata extract has a good bit of potential!
The main active components in the plant are these fancy chemicals called flavonoids. Houttuynia cordata specifically has a good amount of polyphenolic flavonoids, four common ones being quercetin, quercitrin, hyperoside, and rutin. All of these exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. Quercitrin has also been shown to decrease damage from UVB rays, which is an added bonus. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the flavonoid content of this extract can depend on if the extract is taken from the roots or the leaves, as well as if it’s a water extraction or an alcohol extraction.
Another thing Houttuynia cordata extract contains are polysaccharides, i.e. big molecules from various sugar units (in this case it is galacturonic acid (29.4%), galactose (24.0%), rhamnose (17.2%), arabinose (13.5%), glucuronic acid (6.8%), glucose (5.3%), xylose (2.1%) and mannose (1.8%) ). Polysaccharides and sugars in skincare are excellent humectants and skin hydrators, meaning they help the skin to hold onto water.
Last but not least, we also found an in-vitro (made in test tubes) study showing that houttuynia cordata extract had strong anti-allergic effects and could be helpful in treating skin allergies such as eczema (atopic dermatitis).
Show me some proof
- Kumar, Manish, Satyendra K. Prasad, and S. Hemalatha. 2014. “A Current Update on the Phytopharmacological Aspects of Houttuynia Cordata Thunb.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 8 (15): 22–35.
- Lee, Ji-Sook, In Sik Kim, Joo-Hwan Kim, Jin Sook Kim, Dong-Hee Kim, and Chi-Young Yun. 2008. “Suppressive Effects of Houttuynia Cordata Thunb (Saururaceae) Extract on Th2 Immune Response.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 117 (1): 34–40.
- Meng, Jiang, Kelvin Sze-Yin Leung, Zhihong Jiang, Xiaoping Dong, Zhongzhen Zhao, and Li-Jia Xu. 2005. “Establishment of HPLC-DAD-MS Fingerprint of Fresh Houttuynia Cordata.” Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 53 (12): 1604–9.
- Tian, Lingmin, Yan Zhao, Chao Guo, and Xingbin Yang. 2011. “A Comparative Study on the Antioxidant Activities of an Acidic Polysaccharide and Various Solvent Extracts Derived from Herbal Houttuynia Cordata.” Carbohydrate Polymers 83 (2): 537–44.
- Wang, Kuo-Hsien, Rong-Dih Lin, Feng-Lin Hsu, Yen-Hua Huang, Hsien-Chang Chang, Ching-Yi Huang, and Mei-Hsien Lee. 2006. “Cosmetic Applications of Selected Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicines.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 106 (3): 353–59.
- Zhang, Ying, Shu-fen Li, and Xi-wen Wu. 2008. “Pressurized Liquid Extraction of Flavonoids from Houttuynia Cordata Thunb.” Separation and Purification Technology 58 (3): 305–10.
- Yin, Yuanqin, Wenqi Li, Young-Ok Son, Lijuan Sun, Jian Lu, Donghern Kim, Xin Wang, et al. 2013. “Quercitrin Protects Skin from UVB-Induced Oxidative Damage.” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 269 (2): 89–99.