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The Best Mushrooms For Your Skin

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns please talk to your healthcare provider. This article is underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Whether a simple case of acne or something more serious such as psoriasis and eczema, it’s all too easy to have something unhealthy going on with your skin. 


Conventional treatments for skin include creams, lotions, sprays, powders, and oral supplements. There’s also been a demand for natural skin treatments lately, and many are putting the spotlight on mushrooms.


How do mushrooms help with skin health? Which mushrooms are best for treating skin conditions such as eczema, aging skin, dry skin, and acne?

Common Skin Treatments

The types of treatments used on skin disorders vary as much as the skin issues themselves. Here are some of the more conventional and common skin treatments used:


- Antihistamines, especially if your skin disorder is more of a reaction to allergens or environmental pollutants. 

- Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed when the skin disorder stems from an infection.

- Creams and ointments are often recommended for skin disorders such as acne, rashes, and mild burns.

- Steroids are typically recommended for psoriasis and eczema.

- Vitamin injections are typically taken for cosmetic purposes, such as with mesotherapy.

- Laser therapy is typically used to remove wrinkles, scars, to even skin colouring, tighten skin, remove lesions, and even remove warts.


While these treatments are widely considered effective, they’re not without side effects. Some examples of side effects include irritation, burning sensation, dryness, skin thinning (atrophy), stretch marks, and even allergic reactions in rare cases.


Not to mention, some skin treatments aren’t exactly cheap. This is why many are turning their heads to natural alternatives, and mushrooms are one of them.

Taking Mushrooms for Skin Health

Many have started including mushrooms in their diet, not only for treatment purposes but also as they are filled with nutrients and antioxidants. This is why many are also taking mushroom supplements, and research has linked mushroom supplementation to:


- Lower stress levels

- Optimal cell function

- Hormonal balance

- Reduced inflammation


The natural anti-inflammatory properties of mushrooms are one of the big reasons why fungi make a great addition to your skincare routine, especially when the majority of common skin disorders (such as acne, eczema, and rashes) stem from inflammation.  


Some of the more prominent mushroom species for skin health include chaga, cordyceps, reishi, shiitake, and tremella.

Chaga

Chaga is rich in melanin. Melanin is pretty much what determines our skin colour, specifically how light or dark. It’s also the body’s primary protection against UV rays, which we get from sun exposure. Having an added layer of protection against excessive UV ray exposure can help reduce the risks of skin conditions and even some cancers. [1]


Mushrooms are also rich in beta-glucans, a soluble fibre that stimulates collagen synthesis. Collagen is largely responsible for maintaining skin elasticity. It also helps reduce wrinkles and dryness, especially because we tend to produce lower collagen levels as we age. [2]


Chaga has also been found to be especially helpful for psoriasis, with one study noting over ¾ of patients recovered after 90 days of Chaga supplementation.


Find out more about Chaga and Psoriasis here.

Cordyceps

The cordyceps species has been found to help with skin hydration, boost collagen production, and elevate elastin levels. Elastin is a protein that provides strength and elasticity to our skin as well as other organs. [3]


Research pointed out that cordyceps supplementation may have anti-inflammatory effects on common skin problems such as eczema. It may also have potential hormonal acne and breakouts benefits because it promotes testosterone and progesterone balance. [4]


Cordyceps can also provide protection against excessive oxidation (which causes aging) and prevents premature cell death. [5]

Reishi

Reishi’s one of the most popular mushrooms, known for its many health benefits, especially for cardiovascular health. It contains various skin-protective compounds such as polysaccharidestriterpenoids, and polyphenols that act as antioxidants and help protect the skin from oxidative damage. [6]


For the skin, reishi’s been observed to help strengthen skin elasticity, reduce skin cell turnover, as well as reduce skin irritations. It can also lower stress levels, which is critical as stress can accelerate signs of ageing and hormonal imbalances that lead to skin concerns. [7]

Shiitake

Shiitake is a rich source of kojic acid. Kojic acid is cosmetically used to brighten the skin, reduce sunspots, and clear skin of acne scars. Kojic acid is popularly used in various skin-brightening soaps and lotions. [8]


The fungus also contains L-ergothioneine, a potent antioxidant that prevents skin damage, skin ageing, and skin cell breakdown. It can also reduce elastase, an enzyme that breaks down elastin within the dermis. This can contribute to shiitake’s anti-ageing benefits and other skin-care uses. [9]

Tremella

The Tremella mushroom is rich in antioxidants, which fight off excessive oxidation that causes premature skin ageing. Its antioxidant properties can also reduce hyperpigmentation and promotes an even skin tone. [10]


The fungus can also help hydrate the skin as well as contains important skin health compounds such as uronic acid, an antioxidant that increases SOD (superoxide dismutase), glutathione, peroxidase, and catalase. [11]


- SOD: SOD is popularly added to various skincare products for its anti-ageing and antioxidant effects. It can lower free radical damage, which can reduce wrinkles, age spots, and fine lines. It can also help with wound healing and UV ray protection.

- Glutathione: Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in the body and our first line of defence against harmful bacteria as well as free radical damage. 

- Peroxidase: Works similarly as SOD, especially if you want to reduce hyperpigmentation. 

- Catalase: Catalase is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect cells, preventing damage related to ageing and other chronic ailments.

How Do I Take Mushroom Supplements for Skin Health?

- Use ½-1 tsp daily mixed into your food, smoothie, and/or coffee

- or 4-8 capsules

Takeaway…

There’s nothing to be ashamed of having something wrong with your skin. After all, it’s always exposed to something, which makes it prone to more than its fair share of both mild and severe health issues. While there are many treatments available for common skin problems, they’re not without adverse side effects and some are unfortunately just too expensive. 


That is why alternative skin treatments are gaining traction, and one of them involves supplementing with mushrooms like chaga, reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, and tremella. These mushrooms contain critical nutrients, antioxidants, and other substances that help protect the skin from UV rays, excessive oxidation, dehydration, and inflammatory skin diseases.

References 

1. Yan ZF, Yang Y, Tian FH, Mao XX, Li Y, Li CT. Inhibitory and Acceleratory Effects of Inonotus obliquus on Tyrosinase Activity and Melanin Formation in B16 Melanoma Cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:259836. doi: 10.1155/2014/259836. Epub 2014 Aug 13. PMID: 25197307; PMCID: PMC4145793.

2. Yun JS, Pahk JW, Lee JS, Shin WC, Lee SY, Hong EK. Inonotus obliquus protects against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and premature senescence. Mol Cells. 2011 May;31(5):423-9. doi: 10.1007/s10059-011-0256-7. Epub 2011 Feb 22. PMID: 21359681; PMCID: PMC3887607.

3. Park JM, Lee JS, Lee KR, Ha SJ, Hong EK. Cordyceps militaris extract protects human dermal fibroblasts against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and premature senescence. Nutrients. 2014 Sep 16;6(9):3711-26. doi: 10.3390/nu6093711. PMID: 25230212; PMCID: PMC4179184.

4. Choi EJ, Park B, Lee J, Kim J. Anti-atopic dermatitis properties of Cordyceps militaris on TNFα/IFNγ-stimulated HaCaT cells and experimentally induced atopic dermatitis in mice. Phys Act Nutr. 2020 Dec;24(4):7-14. doi: 10.20463/pan.2020.0022. Epub 2020 Dec 31. PMID: 33539689; PMCID: PMC7931639.

5. Yamaguchi Y, Kagota S, Nakamura K, Shinozuka K, Kunitomo M. Antioxidant activity of the extracts from fruiting bodies of cultured Cordyceps sinensis. Phytother Res. 2000 Dec;14(8):647-9. doi: 10.1002/1099-1573(200012)14:8<647::aid-ptr670>3.0.co;2-w. PMID: 11114006.

6. Rani P, Lal MR, Maheshwari U, Krishnan S. Antioxidant Potential of Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) Cultivated on Artocarpus heterophyllus Sawdust Substrate in India. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(12):1171-7. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i12.70. PMID: 26854104.

7. Kim JW, Kim HI, Kim JH, Kwon OC, Son ES, Lee CS, Park YJ. Effects of Ganodermanondiol, a New Melanogenesis Inhibitor from the Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Oct 27;17(11):1798. doi: 10.3390/ijms17111798. PMID: 27801787; PMCID: PMC5133799.

8. Taofiq O, Heleno SA, Calhelha RC, Alves MJ, Barros L, Barreiro MF, González-Paramás AM, Ferreira IC. Development of Mushroom-Based Cosmeceutical Formulations with Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Tyrosinase, Antioxidant, and Antibacterial Properties. Molecules. 2016 Oct 14;21(10):1372. doi: 10.3390/molecules21101372. PMID: 27754433; PMCID: PMC6274557.

9. Avinash J, Vinay S, Jha K, Das D, Goutham BS, Kumar G. The Unexplored Anticaries Potential of Shiitake Mushroom. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jul-Dec;10(20):100-104. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.194039. PMID: 28082791; PMCID: PMC5214552.

10. Chiang JH, Tsai FJ, Lin TH, Yang JS, Chiu YJ. Tremella fuciformis Inhibits Melanogenesis in B16F10 Cells and Promotes Migration of Human Fibroblasts and Keratinocytes. In Vivo. 2022 Mar-Apr;36(2):713-722. doi: 10.21873/invivo.12757. PMID: 35241526; PMCID: PMC8931924.

11. Yang D, Lian J, Wang L, Liu X, Wang Y, Zhao X, Zhang X, Hu W. The anti-fatigue and anti-anoxia effects of Tremella extract. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2019 Dec;26(8):2052-2056. doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2019.08.014. Epub 2019 Aug 14. PMID: 31889793; PMCID: PMC6923490.