Immortelle Bleue otherwise known as sea-lavender, statice, caspia or marsh-rosemary is a perennial seaside plant. It colonises the maritime sands of the Camargue in the south of France.
The name statice corresponds to the Greek statikos (=astringent), evoking the astringent properties of the buried stalks of certain species. A term limonium corresponds to the Greek leimôn (=water meadow) and the French limon (alluvium). It links also to the fact that the plant often grows in salt marshes.
The sun has numerous beneficial effects. It wards off seasonal depression, it regulates our biological clock, it enhances the synthesis of vitamin D.
However, prolonged and repeated exposure can quickly lead to serious skin problems: sunburn, weakening of the immune system, premature ageing and in the most serious cases, the development of melanomas. When exposed to sunlight, ultra violet (UV) rays activate the synthesis of melanin and simultaneously bring about the production of free radicals. The free radicals attack the cells of the epidermis, which destroy the cell membranes and alter the connective tissues. This phenomenon is usually known as oxidative stress. The more the skin is exposed to the sun, the more damaged cells there are and the more the damage caused becomes irreparable. This leads to premature ageing of the tissues and greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Free radicals are known as reactive oxygen species that have a very high oxidising power. Their principal cellular targets are firstly the membranal lipids, which leads to peroxidation of the lipids, then the mitochondria and the DNA. This oxidative stress may have far-reaching consequences on the proper working of the cell: an inability not just to divide and nourish itself but also to protect itself. Too extensive damage can finally result in cell death.
Exposed every day to the Provence sun, Immortelle Bleue has developed remarkable protection systems, particularly for combating the phenomena of oxidation and generation of free radicals provoked by UV rays.
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