Medicinal Mushrooms for Beauty ~ Inside & Out
External radiance is often a reflection of our internal harmony, the smooth running of our digestive system and detox pathways, balanced hormones, and a calm and clear nervous system. When we feel our most beautiful physically, with clear plump skin, sparkling eyes, healthy hair and strong nails we can thank our inner balance.
Looking at the notion of beauty through the lens of whole-body health, medicinal mushrooms are an obvious ally. Not only are they powerful in their role as adaptogens helping to calm the nervous system, one of the key factors in maintaining internal balance, but specific medicinal mushrooms have the ability to hydrate the skin, protect against free radical damage and lower inflammation. Read on as we dive into our top 3 mushies for inner and outer radiance.
Beauty & Stress
But first, a little bit more on stress and its connection to our outer glow, namely our skin health. As a sense organ, our skin also has a connection with our nervous system. Various research, including a 2016 study on the 'Endocrinology of the Skin' noted that elevated stress hormones can have a significant impact on not only the youthful appearance of the skin but overall skin health. Stress flicks the switch to survival mode channelling energy toward our sympathetic nervous system which is useful if we find ourselves in a dangerous situation but becomes damaging if we're responding to ongoing work, social or day-to-day life stressors.
Our body responds to ongoing feelings of stress and anxiety by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenalin) which can not only affect the quality of our sleep (we all need our beauty sleep!) but the regulation of our cells and can instigate a chain of events such as the breakdown of collagen, the disruption of hormonal balance, free radical damage, and the acceleration of cellular ageing, all which contribute the appearance of ageing.
Tremella ~ Deep Hydration
This translucent, almost white mushroom has been revered as a beauty tonic for centuries. It is said that Yang Guifei, one of the Four Beauties of Ancient China and beloved imperial consort to Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (685 – 762 BC) attributed her use of Tremella to her enduring beauty and glowing complexion.
Affectionately referred to as the ‘beauty shroom’ Tremella is brimming with antioxidants and is considered to support a glowing complexion and enhance skin hydration with a capacity to hold 5 times more water than the famed hyaluronic acid, moisturising the skin from the inside out.
This hydrating medicinal mushroom can bring deep lubrication to our connective tissue and fascia. A 2016 study demonstrated Tremella’s moisture retention capacity when compared to hyaluronic acid. 0.05% Tremella polysaccharides were added to skin care products versus 0.02% hyaluronic acid, indicating Tremella’s ability to support the supple and plump appearance of the skin and the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. As we know our bodies produce hyaluronic acid, though as we age, its production starts to decrease which is why Tremella is such a beautiful shroom to incorporate into your skincare regime.
Tremella also contains antioxidant compounds that have been demonstrated to increase SOD (superoxide dismutase) which protects the skin from free radicals. By helping to generate SOD Tremella can act as a regenerative anti-inflammatory for the skin, maintaining the lipid and moisture barrier and brightening the complexion.
Tremella mushroom is also beginning to earn quite a reputation when it comes to healthy hair, thought to help nourish and hydrate the scalp and your luscious locks.
Reishi ~ Skin Radiance
With the signs of inner and outer stress often manifesting visibly on our skin, look no further than Reishi. As an anti-stress mushie, Reishi mushroom has the amazing capacity to help slow the signs of premature ageing and ease skin imbalances working to calm the nervous system and improve our body’s resistance to stress. Its anti-inflammatory benefits can work to calm not only external but internal irritations to the skin helping with conditions like the appearance of breakouts, uneven skin tone and redness.
Reishi’s unique beta-d-glucans, triterpenes and polyphenols work hard to protect the skin from free radicals and oxidative damage as well as defend whole-body longevity. A 2017 study on the role of Reishi in anti-ageing suggests Reishi has ‘definite anti-aging properties and anti-aging effects mainly through anti-oxidation, immunomodulation and anti-neurodegeneration.’
Reishi mushroom also has the capacity to help increase the quality and duration of our sleep, particularly deep sleep. Queen Reishi is your best friend when it comes to clocking up those hours of rejuvenating beauty sleep!
Chaga – Anti-ageing & Longevity Powerhouse
Chaga is well-known as a potent adaptogen when it comes to longevity and anti-ageing benefits.
With its incredible skin-protecting properties, Chaga has more antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD), zinc and melanin than any other single natural source.
When free radicals become too abundant in the body due to sun damage, stress, or pollution SOD can work against free radical damage to the skin helping with dark spots, fine lines, wound healing and sun damage, which is why it is used in many cosmetics as an antioxidant and anti-ageing ingredient.
The SOD found in Chaga can also play a role in protecting our cells and supporting their optimal function. This aids our whole-body resilience and our ability to adapt to stress, which not only helps balance our physical and mental health but feeds our energy reserves and overall vitality which reflects in our outer radiance.
Melanin is responsible for your skin pigment, but it also is important for your overall skin health. The more melanin you have the less sensitive your skin is to sun and windburn, free radicals and toxins in the air.
To us, a true sense of beauty isn't just skin deep as the saying goes. It's the practice of embodying self-love and nourishing ourselves from the inside out. Medicinal mushrooms can play a key role in any natural beauty and health routine but work best when combined with a self-care game that's on point; enjoying nourishing foods, prioritising good quality sleep, hydrating optimally and even taking the time to appreciate the beauty in the world around us.