Arbutin, whose term in the official IUPAC nomenclature is: 4-hydroxyphenyl β-D-glucopyranoside is a glycoside with the chemical formula C12H16O7.
From a chemical point of view, arbutin is a glycosylated hydroquinone present in some plants and from which it can be extracted.
This glycoside is mainly present in the Ericaceae family and we find it, among others, in the following plants: Erica carnea, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Erica arborea, Calluna vulgaris, Pyrola rotundifolia, Turnera diffusi, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Viburnum opulus, Bergenia crassifolia , etc.
Very small amounts of arbutin are found in wheat, the skin of pears and some other foods.
Furthermore, arbutin can be prepared synthetically from the reaction of acetobromoglucose and hydroquinone in an alkaline environment, and this substance was also produced from an in vitro culture of Schisandra chinensis.
In folk medicine, the properties of arbutin were exploited through the use of bearberry, which contains it, and is a traditional treatment for urinary tract infections.
Arbutin, applied topically, inhibits tyrosinase and thus prevents the formation of melanin. Arbutin is then used as a skin lightening agent. In fact, bearberry extract is used in skin lightening treatments designed for regular, long-term use. It is an active agent used in skin lightening products and preparations; it is more expensive than traditional skin lightening ingredients such as hydroquinone, which is now banned in many countries. In vitro studies of human melanocytes exposed to arbutin at concentrations below 300 μg/mL reported decreased tyrosinase activity and melanin content with little evidence of cytotoxicity.
Possible risks include the fact that the German Food Research Institute in Potsdam discovered that intestinal bacteria can transform arbutin into hydroquinone, which creates a favorable environment for intestinal cancer.
Warning: The information provided is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.