The Amazing Benefits of Allantoin

Learn more about this phytochemical, how you can get it, and what it can do for you.

Each week we will shine the spotlight on a couple of phytonutrients, covering all we can about them. Don’t know what phytonutrients are? Read our article all about phytonutrients.

You have probably heard about phytonutrients like beta-carotene, but have you ever heard of allantoin? Pronounced uh-lan-toy-n or ah-LAN-toh-een—but don’t worry if you have trouble, you aren’t alone!

First things first, we need to talk about how to get the benefits of allantoin. Nutrients— including vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—can often be isolated or synthetic. These don’t even come close to natural nutrients in their whole food state; they are not the same. We believe in the synergistic effect of all phytonutrients. Read our helpful resource about how they are different and why natural nutrients, as opposed to synthetic or isolated nutrients, are much more safe and beneficial.

Allantoin is a phytochemical belonging to a class called imidazoles within the alkaloid family. It can be found in comfrey,[1] rice grains,[2] sugar beets, chamomile, wheat sprouts,[3] and the silk of maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids.[4] Comfrey in particular has been used against respiratory issues; however, it may not be safe to take internally, only topically.[5] Allantoin is used in many skin care and cosmetic products, but again, natural is best, nothing lab-created.

Allantoin may have antioxidant, antiaging, and gastro- and skin-protecting properties.

Antiaging

A study in Aging Cell showed that allantoin increased lifespan in worms (C. elegans/N2 worms) by 21.9 percent. In addition, their health was maintained for longer. The worms given allantoin had less of a decrease in pharyngeal pumping compared to worms not given anything, showing their lifespan was prolonged through delayed aging and that they remained healthier later in life. Allantoin interacts with longevity-associated genes. It also enriched the neuropeptide signaling pathway and fatty acid metabolism in downregulated genes.[6]

In mammals, allantoin can bind to imidazoline receptors, having beneficial effects on energy regulation. Allantoin might also signal the presence of oxidative stress, activating a stress response.

Gastroprotection

Allantoin may be able to fight against commonly harmful agents that cause stomach injury. Allantoin was shown to reduce the formation of gastric ulcers and reduce gastric acid secretion, according to a study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology. Allantoin also reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and preserved gastric adhered mucus. Overall, allantoin exhibited gastroprotective activity by way of anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antisecretory, and cytoprotective processes.[7] 

Antitoxin Activity and Cell Activity

One study showed that allantoin crystalline powder was successfully used to remove endotoxins from protein solutions.[8] Endotoxins can cause inflammation, fever, anaphylactic shock, and even death.[9] 

Another study in Phytotherapy Research showed that, unlike pure allantoin, extract from the comfrey root was able to stimulate cell proliferation for certain cells.[10] The medical definition of proliferation is “rapid and repeated production of new parts or of offspring (as in a mass of cells by a rapid succession of cell divisions).”[11] The study concluded that the activity of the comfrey root isn’t due to allantoin alone, but because of the interaction of different compounds in it. Comfrey also has potential use in treating irritated skin.

Pain

Comfrey, which contains allantoin and other phytochemicals, has been used topically for pain after episiotomy and breastfeeding. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations has banned oral comfrey products in the United States because pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are in comfrey, have been found to cause liver damage.[12] Comfrey root has also been used topically for treating painful muscles and joints in those with degenerative arthritis, acute myalgia, sprains, and sprains after injury.[13] 

Antioxidant and Skin Health

Allantoin-containing plants, including Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major, Robinia pseudoacacia, Platanus orientalis, and Aesculus hippocastanum, displayed antioxidant activity, scavenging free radicals. Allantoin can also soothe skin, regenerate skin cells, remove corneocytes, exfoliate dry/damaged cells, and boost radiant appearance of skin.[14] Comfrey may also be able to protect skin from ultraviolet irradiation.[15]

In rice seedlings, it’s been shown that allantoin stimulates plant growth, increases soluble sugar and free proline contents, and decreases malondialdehyde content.[16] Malondialdehyde is produced when certain lipids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) undergo oxidative degeneration and when free radical levels increase.[17]  

“A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function,” explains an article in Pharmacognosy Review. “If free radicals overwhelm the body's ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.”  So, allantoin protects plants from stress and could increase their survival.

The Last Bite

Studies suggest that allantoin may have antioxidant, antiaging, and gastro- and skin-protecting abilities. It has also been shown to stimulate cell activity. Allantoin is found in many plants such as sugar beets, chamomile, rice grains, and more. It is also in comfrey, which has been used to treat pain, respiratory problems, and skin. Never heard of sugar beet? There are just as many recipes you can use this plant food in as the others! For instance, you can make sugar beet latkes, sugar beet hummus, roasted sugar beets, or sugar beet ketchup to get some allantoin and its benefits.


[1] “Comfrey,” Phytochemicals (Phytochemicals.info), accessed August 6, 2020, https://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/comfrey.php.

[2] Peng Wang et al., “Distribution and Function of Allantoin (5-Ureidohydantoin) in Rice Grains,” ACSPublications (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, February 28, 2012), https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf2051043.

[3] “Spotlight on Allantoin: What Is It and Can It Benefit Your Skin?,” skinbetter science® (SKINBETTER SCIENCE, February 20, 2017), https://skinbetter.com/spotlight-allantoin-can-benefit-skin/.

[4] Z Maksimović et al., “Quantification of Allantoin in Various Zea Mays L. Hybrids by RP-HPLC with UV Detection,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Pharmazie, July 2008), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15296088/.

[5] “Comfrey,” Phytochemicals (Phytochemicals.info), accessed August 7, 2020, https://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/comfrey.php.

[6] Shaun Calvert et al., “A Network Pharmacology Approach Reveals New Candidate Caloric Restriction Mimetics in C. Elegans,” Wiley Online Library (Aging Cell, December 16, 2015), https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acel.12432.

[7] Dayane Moreira de Silva et al., “Effect of Allantoin on Experimentally Induced Gastric Ulcers: Pathways of Gastroprotection,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Eur J Pharmacol., February 15, 2018), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29277718/.

[8] Vincent Vagenende et al., “Allantoin as a Solid Phase Adsorbent for Removing Endotoxins,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Journal of chromatography. A, October 4, 2013), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24001944/.

[9] S. Lerouge, “Sterilisation and Cleaning of Metallic Biomaterials,” Endotoxin - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics (Metals for Biomedical Devices, 2010), https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/endotoxin.

[10] Vesna Lj Savić et al., “Comparative Study of the Biological Activity of Allantoin and Aqueous Extract of the Comfrey Root,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Phytotherapy research : PTR, April 16, 2015), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25880800/.

[11] “Proliferation (Medical Definition),” Merriam-Webster (Merriam-Webster), accessed August 7, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/proliferation.

[12] “Comfrey,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Drugs and Lactation Database, December 3, 2018), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30000832/.

[13] Christiane Staiger, “Comfrey Root: from Tradition to Modern Clinical Trials,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift (1946), February 2013), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23224633/.

[14] Zeliha Selamoglu et al., “In-Vitro Antioxidant Activities of the Ethanolic Extracts of Some Contained-Allantoin Plants,” Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR (Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, 2017), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963650/?tool=pmcentrez.

[15] Marwan S. M. Al-Nimer and Zainab Wahbee, “Ultraviolet Light Assisted Extraction of Flavonoids and Allantoin from Aqueous and Alcoholic Extracts of Symphytum Officinale,” Journal of intercultural ethnopharmacology (Ejmanager, July 12, 2017), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580953/?tool=pmcentrez.

[16] Peng Wang et al., “Distribution and Function of Allantoin (5-Ureidohydantoin) in Rice Grains,” ACSPublications (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, February 28, 2012), https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf2051043.

[17] Stefan Gawel et al., “[Malondialdehyde (MDA) as a Lipid Peroxidation Marker],” U.S. National Library of Medicine (Wiadomosci lekarskie (Warsaw, Poland : 1960), 2004), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15765761/.