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Molecules 2011, 16(12), 10507-10540; doi:10.3390/molecules161210507

Transdermal Drug Delivery Enhancement by Compounds of Natural Origin

Unit for Drug Research and Development, North-West University, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 November 2011 / Revised: 3 December 2011 / Accepted: 9 December 2011 / Published: 16 December 2011
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Products)
Download PDF [327 KB, uploaded 18 June 2014]


The transdermal route of administration offers an alternative pathway for systemic drug delivery with numerous advantages over conventional routes. Regrettably, the stratum corneum forms a formidable barrier that hinders the percutaneous penetration of most drugs, offering an important protection mechanism to the organism against entrance of possible dangerous exogenous molecules. Different types of penetration enhancers have shown the potential to reversibly overcome this barrier to provide effective delivery of drugs across the skin. Although certain chemical and physical skin penetration enhancers are already employed by the pharmaceutical industry in commercially available transdermal products, some skin penetration enhancers are associated with irritating and toxic effects. This emphasizes the need for the discovery of new, safe and effective skin penetration enhancers. Penetration enhancers from natural origin have become popular as they offer several benefits over their synthetic counterparts such as sustainable mass production from a renewable resource and lower cost depending on the type of extraction used. The aim of this article is to give a comprehensive summary of the results from scientific research conducted on skin penetration enhancers of natural origin. The discussions on these natural penetration enhancers have been organized into the following chemical classes: essential oils, terpenes, fatty acids and polysaccharides.
Keywords: natural; penetration enhancer; essential oil; terpene; polysaccharide natural; penetration enhancer; essential oil; terpene; polysaccharide
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fox, L.T.; Gerber, M.; Plessis, J.D.; Hamman, J.H. Transdermal Drug Delivery Enhancement by Compounds of Natural Origin. Molecules 2011, 16, 10507-10540.

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