Skin Deep

Mushrooms are magical for your skin

We couldn’t imagine pizza or pasta without mushrooms, but you just might want to make some room in your skincare regimen for these fabulous fungi.

Research has shown that mushrooms can boost your immune system, and extracts of medicinal mushrooms have long been used in the Far East to treat allergies, arthritis, bronchitis and even cancer of the lungs, stomach and esophagus. And recently, more and more studies are shedding light on potential benefits that mushrooms can have for your skin.

With anti-inflammatory properties, mushrooms can help improve acne, rosacea and eczema. They are also rich in vitamin D, selenium and antioxidants that protect your skin against wrinkles and discoloration caused by environmental damage. And with thousands of kinds of mushrooms ranging from basic white button to more exotic varieties, the possibilities are endless.

One type of mushroom that’s been getting a lot of attention is kombucha, which recently gained popularity as one of the ingredients in a type of black tea. This fungus is nothing new in China, Russia and Germany, where it has been used to aid weight loss, memory, digestion and longevity.

Studies have also shown that it has a positive effect on oxidative stress (i.e. free radical damage) when taken orally. Studies on topical application of kombucha have showed this ingredient hinders glycation, a process that occurs when excess sugar binds to the collagen in the skin and makes it brittle, causing wrinkles. It also helps enhance the layer of fat beneath the skin for a visible anti-aging effect.

On the surface, kombucha also improves skin tone and reduces lines and wrinkles. If this makes you hungry for some kombucha-infused skincare, look for Teda Facial Tonic Toner and Moisturizer, TriAction Age Defense and HydroPeptide products.

Shitake mushrooms are another one to watch, especially since they’ve been shown to halt the proliferation of cancer cells in humans as well as mice. In addition to being rich in proteins, lipids, vitamins and amino acids, the mounting scientific evidence makes it hard not to be optimistic about their place in dermatology.

Reishi mushrooms are another species with well-documented antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer properties—and skincare companies are starting to catch on. These mushrooms can be found in Aveeno’s Positively Ageless Active Naturals and the Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Plantidote Mega-Mushroom products (along with other good-for-your-skin ingredients).

With all this promising research, it will be interesting to see how the power of these magical mushrooms will be used to treat both health and skin disorders. Now that’s food for thought.

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