Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms for Skin Health
Updated April 14, 2023.
Shiitake mushrooms are often used in cooking, and as such, they go unnoticed as a functional mushroom akin to Reishi or Lion's Mane. However, the health benefits of Shiitake mushrooms are as extensive as their nutritional benefits. Among those benefits is an anti-aging effect that seems to promote better skin, but how true is this?
How Can Shiitake Mushrooms Help Skin Conditions?
There are various reasons that Shiitake mushrooms are regarded as one of the best mushrooms for skincare.
Shiitake Mushrooms Might Inhibit Melanocyte Activity
Emerging research has shown that Shiitake mushroom extracts containing kojic acid can inhibit melanocyte activity and, therefore, reduce the production of melanin in the skin. It needs to be understood that this will not change the natural pigmentation of your skin, but it can result in brighter and healthier-looking skin tones.
Melanocyte inhibitors have many functional uses for the skin, such as the treatment of melanoma, skin therapy, and cancer.
Shiitake Mushrooms May Help Hydrate Your Skin
A common skin-related problem is a lack of hydration or moisture, leading to dry skin that can cause flaking, itching, tightening, or peeling. Treatment of dry skin is usually with the use of moisturisers containing added ceramide. This naturally occurring compound is responsible for creating a protective layer to prevent moisture loss and reduce damage from environmental factors.
Research has shown that cosmetic products containing extracted components of mushrooms, such as ceramides, effectively reduce the symptoms of various skin conditions.
Shiitake Mushrooms May Reduce Oxidative Stress
The same study listed above noted the antioxidative capabilities of mushrooms as a benefit to skin health. It is well known that excessive oxidative stress plays a role in damaging proteins, cells, and DNA, all of which contribute to the degenerative effects of aging. It is this property that suggests the anti-aging effect of this and other functional mushrooms.
Shiitake Mushrooms May Promote Collagen Production
One of the benefits of a specific type of antioxidant (L-ergothioneine) found in shiitake mushrooms is that it encourages a more rapid process of cell renewal. This could contribute to more collagen and elastin in the skin. Collagen is responsible for the strength of your skin, while elastin allows it to be flexible.
Shiitake Mushrooms May Be Anti-inflammatory
Common skin conditions, like eczema, acne, and psoriasis, are inflammatory and can be triggered and exacerbated by external factors, such as allergens, stress, and even temperature.
Studies have shown that Shiitake mushrooms can inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines and reduce inflammatory markers. It stands to reason that reducing the presence of inflammation can alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions.
Can Shiitake Mushrooms Harm Your Skin?
The way in which you consume Shiitake mushrooms can drastically alter their effects. As such, it is important to make sure that you either purchase Shiitake supplements from reputable sources or that you sufficiently cook your fresh and wild Shiitake mushrooms. Consuming uncooked Shiitake mushrooms, dried or otherwise, can cause a skin condition known as Shiitake flagellate dermatitis.
Although rare, this side effect of Shiitake mushrooms can appear in healthy individuals without mushroom and mould allergies.
Common Shiitake dermatitis symptoms include:
- Formation of itchy erythematous (skin redness).
- Localised swelling.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
It's important to understand that Shiitake dermatitis is not an allergic reaction despite similar symptoms. It is thought to be a toxic reaction to lentinan and does not always occur in the same individuals after repeated instances of Shiitake consumption. Additionally, individuals who have manifested symptoms of Shiitake dermatitis do not always fail further allergy tests for mushrooms and mould.
Although this may seem scary, there are no reported cases of healthy individuals dying due to Shiitake dermatitis. Symptoms typically disappear in a few days to a few weeks.
Should You Use Shiitake Mushrooms for Better Skin?
The supplied evidence suggests high efficacy for using Shiitake and other functional mushrooms to promote skin health with relatively low risk. Although you are perfectly able to make use of Shiitake mushroom vitamin supplements, you may also benefit from incorporating natural mushrooms into your diet. They are a healthy addition commonly used in cooking throughout the world due to their high nutritional content of protein, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals.