Among TCM practitioners and users, pearl has long been prescribed to treat several skin- and bone-related disorders, as it is thought to be rich in proteins and minerals.
Researchers at the Taichung Hospital Ministry of Health and Well-being and Chung Shan Medical University therefore conducted an RCT to examine the anti-oxidative and lifespan-prolonging impact of different pearl powder extracts.
They recruited 20 healthy middle-aged participants for a clinical trial.
At the same time, they evaluated oxidative indices and effects on lifespan during in vitro studies using wild-type Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of roundworm.
Pearl versus placebo
For the clinical trial, they separated the participants into two groups: each person in the control group was given 3g of placebo daily for eight weeks, while each person in the experimental group received 3g of pearl powder in capsule form every day for eight weeks.
During the trial, the researchers collected the participants' blood samples in the first, second, fourth, sixth, eighth and 10th weeks for biochemical analysis.
In addition, those in the experimental group exhibited a marked increase in total antioxidant capacity, higher glutathione and total thiol levels, greater enzymic antioxidant activity, and "considerably suppressed" lipid peroxidation.
When it came to the in vitro studies, they reported that C. elegans' average lifespan of 23 days was raised to 24 days when treated with 10mg/ml of pearl protein extract.
50mg/ml of the same extract increased their lifespan to 26 days, while a 100mg/ml dose prolonged it to 28 days.
These results led the researchers to state that "pearl powder could be recommended for treating various age-related degenerative disorders".
They added that the present data showed that the abundance of protein — namely, minerals and amino acids — in pearl powder had helped to increase total antioxidant capacity, antioxidant activity, total thiols, and glutathione content, and to suppress lipid peroxide products.
They then concluded: "The protein extract of pearl powder supplementation can significantly prolong the lifespan of C. elegans, owing to antioxidant activity.
"The results of both in vivo and in vitro (studies) highlight that pearl powder is a potent antioxidant and in the future, can be employed for treating various age-related degenerative diseases / disorders."
Source: Journal of Food and Drug Analysis
"Efficacy of protein rich pearl powder on antioxidant status in a randomized placebo-controlled trial"
Authors: Hui-Fang Chiu, et al.