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Elle Macpherson’s Reported Beauty Secret: Does It Really Work?

Posted Jul 09 2010 12:25pm

Ever since 47-year-old Elle Macpherson admitted on Wednesday to the Times of London that she consumes illegal rhino horn supplements, women all over the modernized world have been wondering how they work and how to get them.  Even though Macpherson has since retracted the statement , rhino horn remains one of the most popular supplement searches on the internet this week .  So does it work?  FutureDerm investigates…

In traditional Eastern medicine, according to the journal Pachyderm , rhino horn is prepared by being shaved or ground into a powder, and then dissolved in boiling water.  To this day, it is sold in many Asian supplements to treat a large variety of ailments, including rashes, fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders.  Despite popular belief, rhino horn is not recommended in Eastern medicine as an aphrodisiac , and it is not traditionally prescribed as a beauty enhancer.

The greatest use of Rhino horn is actually as an component of Chung Shim Won balls, which consist of over 30 ingredients and are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, “unstable” mental conditions (hysteria, etc.), and disorders of the autonomic nervous system.

One of the most expensive supplements, ranging from US $75-$450 per 37.5 gram bottle in Asia , rhino horn is reportedly losing popularity in Asia due to concerns over both the cost and the endangerment of the rhinoceros species.  As such, buffalo horn is being touted as an acceptable supplement.

Based on the evidence available, no.  Even ancient traditional Chinese medicine does not seem to regularly prescribe rhino horn as an anti-aging supplement.  Perhaps the rumor that rhino horn makes one younger stemmed from the fact that rhino horn manages to repair itself when damaged.

Another possibility for the belief is that rhino horn is one of the few types of horns that are entirely comprised of keratin.  As reported by the television show Nature , most animal horns have a bony core covered by a relatively thin layer of keratin, whereas rhino horns are keratin the whole way through.  Despite this, there is no existing evidence I could find stating that consuming keratin increases keratin production in one’s hair, skin, and/or nails.  Rather, I would guess that consuming keratin is like consuming collagen:   while certain vitamins and minerals have been directly associated with increased collagen production, ingesting or applying more collagen to the skin does not necessarily boost collagen production .  Think of it like baking a cake:  if you put the right ingredients in the bowl, you’ll get the desired product.  But if you put a slice of finished cake in with the eggs, butter, and flour, it’s not going to grant you a better product.

According to the International Rhino Foundation , three of the five species of rhinoceros the  JavanSumatran and  Black Rhinoceros are critically endangered.  The greater, one-horned  Indian Rhinoceros is  endangered , with fewer than 2700 remaining in the wild, whereas the remaining  White is registered as “vulnerable”, with approximately 17,500 remaining in the wild.   As such, it is understandable why animal rights activists were outraged at the reported use of rhinoceros horn by Ms. Macpherson.  However, Macpherson has released a statement stating that she “never knowingly consumed or encouraged the use or consumption of any products which contain material derived from endangered species,” and that she regrets “any distress or offence that her banter with an interviewer might have caused”.

If you wish to increase your youth and beauty, step away from the rhino, and move towards some of Elle Macpherson’s affirmed beauty secrets:

What do you think of consuming beauty supplements?  Let me know your thoughts in Comments below!  :-)

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