Clinical Efficacy & Safety of Oral Polypodium Leucotomos Extract for Photoprotection: A Systematic Review

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Giselle Prado
Rebeca Teplitz
Richard Winkelmann
James Del Rosso
Darrell Rigel


heliocare, polypodium leucotomos extract


Background: Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE) is a naturally derived compound from a fern native to South America. PLE has been shown to have antioxidant and photoprotective properties. Several different preparations of PLE are commercially available.

Objective: To review the efficacy and safety of PLE for photoprotection in humans.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted in 3 databases (Medline, Embase, and Cochrane) for studies that reported on the clinical efficacy and safety of PLE in humans. A data collection form was created for collecting study variables and risk of bias was assessed.

Results: Eighteen studies with sample sizes ranging from n=5 to n-61 were included. The most common formulation of PLE studied was Fernblock® (Heliocare, Ferndale Healthcare, Ferndale, MI) in 18 studies. Most studies reported beneficial photoprotective effects of PLE as evidenced by increased MED. No serious adverse effects were reported.

Conclusions: Multiple studies have shown the beneficial photoprotective effects and safety of the Fernblock® PLE formulation, but there is minimal evidence to support the safety and efficacy of other formulations. Given that the extraction methodology varies for herbal nutraceuticals and can affect its efficacy, these findings cannot be extrapolated to other formulations of PLE.


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