Cordyceps For Skin: Nourishing The Skin With Mushroom

Last Updated on January 12, 2024

Skin conditions are the fourth most prominent cause of disability globally, affecting individuals of all ages. In 2019, 4,859,267,654 new cases of skin and subcutaneous diseases worldwide were reported.

Every aspect of a patient’s life, including relationships, education, career decisions, sexual activity, and social and recreational activities, is profoundly impacted. Not only do the patients suffer from the psychological, physical, and social effects, but family members and caregivers are also impacted.

Asia has long used mushrooms for their health-promoting, vitality-preserving, youthful-appearing properties and to counteract the adverse health effects of long-term stress. Cordyceps, a fungus type, is a promising plant on the market.

Although Cordyceps mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, they have only become more well-known in the West in the last twenty or thirty years. Research indicates that because of its ability to reduce inflammation, it may be a beneficial anti-aging agent. Their well-earned reputation as a nutritional powerhouse has inspired the use of their prized compounds in unconventional contexts, like skincare and cosmetics.

This post explores the benefits of Cordyceps on the skin to help better understand why it is one of the most sought-after natural ingredients for health and beauty. 

cordyceps for skin

Unveiling The Science Behind Cordyceps Skin Benefits

The powerful antioxidants found in Cordyceps may help hydrate dry skin and increase collagen and elastin production. They have even shown promise in topically treating inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. Cordyceps is well known for energizing and immune-modulating health benefits. Helping decrease the amount of inflammation that damages the skin helps reduce one of the primary causes of aging skin: our response to everyday environmental insults.

The interaction between Cordyceps and UVB radiation, which is one of the components of UV radiation from the sun that causes age-related skin changes, has been investigated by researchers. The findings imply that topical applications of Cordyceps extracts may either reverse UVB-induced skin damage or shield it from occurring in the first place.

Additionally, the production of collagen has been observed to be impacted by cordyceps mushrooms, which may positively support healthy aging. Studies have even demonstrated that human cells exposed to Cordyceps inhibit the body’s inflammatory proteins.

Here is what the research has explored about the benefits of Cordyceps on the skin.

 

Cordyceps increases skin collagen synthesis

Cordyceps extract was shown in a 2022 study published in the Journal of Microencapsulation to improve skin cell regeneration and collagen synthesis.  Skin aging is primarily caused by oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species. One of Cordyceps militaris’ bioactive compounds, cordycepin, has anti-oxidant properties.

This work investigated the anti-oxidant effect and skin regeneration in human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) in both normal and oxidative stress conditions.  HDFs given a 48-hour treatment with cordyceps demonstrated a 2.76-fold increase in skin regeneration activity through expressing extracellular matrix and rescuing damaged cells. Cosmetics could make use of the developed Cordyceps.

Cordyceps has anti-bacterial effects

In a 2022 study, the effectiveness of extracts from Cordyceps militaris against a few skin pathogenic bacteria and anti-oxidant activity was assessed. This study looked into the anti-bacterial qualities of the Cordyceps militaris fruiting body and substrate.

The aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the mushroom demonstrated anti-bacterial activity against bacteria that cause acne and skin infections. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), Cutibacterium acnes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus are a few of these. The research revealed the potential of Cordyceps militaris extract as an anti-oxidant and novel drug for the treatment of infections caused by skin-pathogenic bacteria.

Cordyceps may be a safe and effective ingredient for skincare products

In a 2023 study, a topical product made from the fungus Cordyceps militaris was investigated as a potential industrial practice. A topical product containing an extract of Cordyceps militaris’ mycelium residue was created.

A cream was developed using a skin care preparation that contained 0.2% extract. The safety of the mushroom polysaccharide cream was verified, and it garnered over 70% of the 20 female volunteers’ total preferences.

The researcher came to the conclusion that the mycelium residue of Cordyceps militaris is a valuable source for pharmaceutical products in terms of stability and content.

Cordyceps may protect against UV rays

2020 saw the publication of a pharmacological study assessing the protective properties of Cordyceps extract against UVB-induced damage. Additionally, researchers predicted its potential for topical administration.

UVB radiation is a powerful source of energy and the leading cause of skin tumors and sunburns. This study determined the photoprotective mechanisms and assessed the protective effects of cultured Cordyceps against UVB-induced damage in human skin cells.

The compositions of Cordyceps extracts were examined, and the effects of UVB irradiation on DNA damage, free radical production, and anti-oxidant production in the presence of the extract were assessed. Intracellular UVB-induced oxidative stress, including the production of anti-oxidants and the number of free radicals within cells, was significantly reduced by Cordyceps.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of Cordyceps extract in repairing DNA following UV irradiation has been demonstrated. The study concluded that cordyceps extract might be the ideal product to apply externally to the skin to prevent UVB-induced side effects.

Cordyceps may alleviate symptoms of atopic dermatitis

A 2020 study assessed the anti-atopic dermatitis effects of Cordyceps militaris aqueous extract in skin cells both in vitro and in vivo. The results were published in the Physical Activity and Nutrition journal. Researchers looked into the protein, carbohydrate, and specific phytochemical content of the mushroom extract, as well as its nutraceutical composition. Histopathological analysis revealed reduced epidermal/dermal thickness and mast cell infiltration in mouse ears. These findings imply that the Cordyceps militaris extract might help treat skin lesions resembling atopic dermatitis.

Benefits Of Cordyceps

Cordyceps is regarded as a kind of panacea in traditional Chinese and folk medicine, with the ability to treat almost any ailment. Current research indicates that it may offer numerous health advantages.

Cancer and cordyceps

The potential benefits of Cordyceps on cancer cells are among its most intriguing potential advantages. Studies conducted on animals and in vitro suggest that cordycepin, an extract from Cordyceps, may have anti-cancer properties on cancers other than liver and lung cancer.

Male sexuality and Cordyceps

Cordyceps has been called “Himalayan Viagra”. It is thought to be an effective medication for male virility. Studies on elderly rats suggest this assertion may be valid because Cordyceps militaris enhanced testicular function, improving testosterone levels, libido, and erectile function.

Exercise performance and Cordyceps

Cordyceps may enhance athletic performance. Adding Cordyceps supplements appeared to protect athletes against oxidative stress brought on by exercise, according to small studies conducted on cyclists. Other small studies found that athletes using Cordyceps had greater tolerance for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and mice given polysaccharide extracts from Cordyceps militaris before swimming had higher energy levels.

The potential effects of Cordyceps on athletic performance are probably due to the same antioxidant properties that help prevent skin aging. Antioxidants may be helpful because exercise can put the body under oxidative stress.

Not all mushroom supplements are produced the same, and only high-quality Cordyceps supplements can help you achieve these benefits for the skin and body.  Here are five tips to help you choose a high-quality mushroom supplement.

1. Pick products made with fruiting bodies of mushrooms.

 Mycelium is the term for a mushroom’s “roots,” whereas the mushroom itself is referred to as a plant’s “flower.”  The stem of a mushroom emerges above the ground from the mycelium below. The term “fruiting body” means the portion of the mushroom that is above ground and edible, including the stem, gills, and cap.

Recent studies have verified that the fruiting body of the Cordyceps mushroom has a higher concentration of active beneficial compounds, like beta-glucans, than the mycelium. Many companies use mycelium, a portion of the mushroom that is simply less potent because it contains fewer active beneficial phytochemicals, in their formulas in an attempt to save money.

2. Check the label for the levels of beta-glucan.

Cordyceps mushrooms contain large amounts of beta-glucans, a complex polysaccharide, also known as sugar or carbohydrates, in their cell walls. Mushroom beta-glucans play a vital role in supporting immune health and overall wellness.  By boosting the immune system, beta-glucans may aid in the fight against infectious bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic illnesses.

In short, what you want from a mushroom supplement is beta-glucans. Therefore, understand precisely what beta glucans it offers before purchasing.

3. Examine the Extraction Process of a Product

The beneficial compounds found in Cordyceps mushrooms are accessed during the extraction process. An inadequate extraction process can significantly affect a mushroom’s beneficial beta-glucan levels and quality. Because it affects the product’s potency, a company’s choice of process when creating its mushroom products is essential. Purchase supplements only from businesses that have the scientific know-how and competence to guarantee their effectiveness. 

4. Examine the concentration and number of capsules.

When purchasing a mushroom supplement, look at the label to determine the concentration and number of capsules needed per serving.

5. Buy mushrooms that have bene certified organic.

For several reasons, mushroom extracts should be certified organic. First, organic certification guarantees that no artificial chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were used to cultivate or process the Cordyceps mushrooms used in the products. This promotes a higher level of safety and quality by lowering the possibility of hazardous materials or chemical residues in the finished extract.

Subsequently, maintaining ecological balance, biodiversity, and soil and substrate health—which impede the absorption of toxins—are prerequisites for organic certification. Choosing organic mushroom extracts is your way of supporting sustainable farming methods.

Lastly, compared to their conventionally grown counterparts, organic mushroom extracts are thought to retain more of their inherent nutritional and medicinal qualities. Because no artificial chemicals are present, the mushrooms may generate as many beneficial compounds as possible, including minerals, vitamins, beta-glucans, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and bioactive substances.

FAQs About Cordyceps For Skin

What Is Cordyceps Used To Treat?

Cordyceps has an immune system-inhibiting effect, which makes it helpful in treating auto-immune diseases and immunosuppression following organ transplantation. It is used as a clinical intervention to treat a variety of conditions, including lung and renal dysfunction, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids), respiratory issues, fatigue, infertility treatment, cardiac arrhythmias, and other heart conditions.

Is Cordyceps Good For Eczema?

Skin conditions like eczema have been treated ethnopharmacologically with Cordyceps species. The mushroom is rich in antioxidants and has the potential to boost the production of collagen and elastin and moisturize dry skin. It has even shown potential as a topical treatment for inflammatory disorders like eczema. 

Who Should Stay Away from Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Even though there isn’t much data to support any contraindications, not everyone should use Cordyceps. These fungi should be avoided by women who are pregnant, nursing, have bleeding disorders or have severe auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis and lupus. Immunosuppressive and anti-platelet (blood thinning) drugs should be used with caution as Cordyceps may interact with them. 

Does Cordyceps Help Acne?

The Cordyceps mushroom promotes healthy nutrient and oxygen delivery to our skin cells, enhances vasodilation and nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, and inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Because Cordyceps mushroom contains phytosterols, which balance progesterone and testosterone, it can help with hormonal acne and breakouts in addition to supporting healthy circulation. In addition, it hydrates and brightens the skin while having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.

 When’s the Best Time to Take Cordyceps Mushroom?

The ideal time to take supplements containing Cordyceps mushrooms can vary based on your individual preferences and the desired effects. Because Cordyceps can naturally increase energy and stamina, many people prefer taking it in the morning. Some people decide to take Cordyceps before working out or engaging in physical activities because it boosts energy and improves endurance, allowing them to maximize their performance and endurance during exercise.

Conclusion

Cordyceps mushroom is a potent antioxidant with incredible abilities to protect the skin against aging and inflammation. It can help increase collagen synthesis, has anti-bacterial benefits, and may be a safe and effective ingredient for skincare products. In addition, the mushroom has the ability to protect against harmful UV rays and may relive symptoms of common skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema.

References

1. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology. Prevalence of Skin Disease and Its Associated Factors Among Primary Schoolchildren: A Cross-Sectional Study from a Northern Ethiopian Town.

 2. Frontiers in Public Health. The burden of skin and subcutaneous diseases: findings from the global burden of disease study 2019.

3. Journal of microencapsulation. Nanoencapsulated cordyceps extract enhances collagen synthesis and skin cell regeneration through antioxidation and autophagy.

4. Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland). Efficacy of Cordyceps militaris Extracts against Some Skin Pathogenic Bacteria and Antioxidant Activity.

5. Fungal biology and biotechnology. Cordyceps militaris polysaccharides: preparation and topical product application.

 6. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy. Protective effects of Cordyceps extract against UVB‑induced damage and prediction of application prospects in the topical administration: An experimental validation and network pharmacology study.

7. Physical activity and nutrition. Anti-atopic dermatitis properties of Cordyceps militaris on TNFα/IFNγ-stimulated HaCaT cells and experimentally induced atopic dermatitis in mice.

Author

  • Dr. Sony Sherpa has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Guangzhou Medical University and has been studying medicinal mushrooms for more than 7 years. Her knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is backed by a master's degree in Holistic Medicine and contributes to many health articles around the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

World Mushroom Society is a collective of fungi enthusiasts and health advocates, sharing information, research, studies, and identifying top producers of high quality medicinal mushroom supplements.

DISCLAIMER

DISCLAIMER
The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information found here is not meant as a substitute for, or alternative to, information from your doctor for ongoing medical treatment you currently receive. If unsure, please consult with your doctor before using medicinal mushrooms. Any content related to cancer should not be considered as prescriptive medical advice and should not be a substitute for any cancer treatment, unless advised by your doctor first. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by TGA and FDA-approved research. If you are pregnant or on prescription drugs that thin the blood, consult with your medical professional before using medicinal mushrooms.
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