11 Herbs & Mushrooms Great for Skin Health
Then, some other health conditions can feel very, VERY visible.
Skin health is no exception to this, as it can be very, very noticeable.
Skin health, and conditions related to skin health, is no joke. In addition to the discomfort and complications skin conditions can cause, they sometimes also add another layer of mental health and self-esteem issues to the mix, since they affect our appearance and can be hard to conceal.
Modern medicines can help. Meanwhile, scientific studies and traditional natural medicine practices also show that lifestyle tips and certain home remedies might help support skin health, too.
WHAT GOES INTO GREAT SKIN HEALTH?
Many people may not realize it, but our skin IS an organ. It could also be considered one of the largest organs in our body. Just like every other organ, it needs to be taken care of.
More importantly, skin health isn’t all about “appearance” and beauty.
It’s at once an indicator of various dimensions of health while also being connected to the well-being of certain body systems in and of itself—and it stands out as a unique organ all its own.
The good news? Skin health can be taken care of beyond just pills, prescription creams, and treatments.
Natural and lifestyle tips may support skin health, through:
- Eating clean and healthy foods
- Avoiding inflammatory foods
- Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods
- Taking care of the liver (with help of natural detoxifying)
- Extra help from skin-supporting herbs and mushrooms
SKIN IN THE GAME: MUSHROOMS & HERBS SUPPORTING SKIN HEALTH
Improving skin health is possible to do (naturally) on one’s own.
For those with severe skin issues, talking with a doctor or dermatologist is a central approach to improving skin health. It’s also vital if one is seeking support and management for certain skin conditions.
But studies suggest that herbs and mushrooms could also be a huge help.
Whether it’s simply improving skin appearance and health or helping manage a condition with less reliance on prescriptions, research is beginning to explore how plant (and fungus)-based remedies—some of which have even been traditionally used for skin health for centuries—could play a much-needed part in our skin care routines.
Let’s take a look at the best among them.
CHAGA MUSHROOM (AND BETULIN)
Among many mushrooms used in natural healing, alternative medicine, and beyond, chaga mushroom is often considered the most powerful tonic of them all.
That’s because chaga is rich in many healing compounds.
This includes betulin, a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals and also protects against inflammation. As it turns out, this antioxidant could protect our skin from these harmful things, too.
One study showed topical use of betulin, found in chaga, could reduce the development of skin issues and even certain skin cancers. Because it scavenges free radicals too, it could play an important role in preserving skin health as well.
Trailing not too far behind chaga and its miraculous properties, reishi could also be esteemed as a protective health tonic of the highest degree. After all, it helps to naturally fight inflammation, boost immunity, and more.
Like chaga too, it contains plenty of antioxidants in its polysaccharide compounds.
Intrigued by these, researchers put these to the test to see how they affected skin health in a 2013 study. When applied to aging skin in test subjects, reishi noticeably slowed and helped diminish signs of aging.
Next to chaga and reducing skin cancer risk, reishi may help us where aging and appearance are both concerned.
In traditional herbalism practices, burdock is widely known for helping skin health in many ways. Besides helping enhance the immune system, it is often used to detoxify the liver and blood, and thus helps purge impurities that cloud the skin, such as acne.
Does research show it could really help skin health?
Well, science has indeed made some connections. One study even used an extract of the root to see if it could treat atopic dermatitis, a painful inflammatory skin condition.
Results showed that it might just work for this skin condition, though more studies are needed before calling it an atopic dermatitis remedy.
It has often been nicknamed the “Herb of Immortality.” Some also call the herb, scientifically known as Gynostamma pentaphyllum, the Chinese name “jiaogulan.”
Myths told that this magical herb could help one live forever.
More realistically though, gynostemma helped people age better because it was chock-full of unique health-protecting antioxidants. Apparently, however, it also helps with age when it comes to the “looks” and beauty department, too.
This was found in a study where gynostemma extract was applied directly to dermal fibroblasts in test subjects. The herb appeared to protect them, which in turn slowed down the visible effects of aging, even skin wrinkles.
HE SHOU WU
He shou wu is famous for a huge number of health benefits. Among these, better hair growth is a very famous attribute.
But like gynostemma, it may have skin health benefits up its sleeve—and in very similar fashion to this fellow Asian herb of similar repute. It may protect skin as an antioxidant, which in turn improves skin health and appearance by way of aging.
Like gynostemma, He Shou Wu helps preserve dermal fibroblasts.
A study showed this, demonstrating that He Shou Wu helped skin resist damage from UV rays, slowing the aging process and possibly reducing the risk of skin cancers.
Hate or love it, in the world of herbal healing, dandelion is here to stay—even if it’s not welcome in most gardens or lawns.
People might also change their minds about it if they knew how good this yellow-flowered weed is for skin health. Even though it doesn’t have nearly as “legendary” a reputation as Asian herbs like He Shou Wu and gynostemma, science nevertheless has similar things to say about it.
That’s right: dandelion could be a powerful skin protector.
A study tested the herb to see how it protected dermal fibroblasts, and it did an admirable job too, according to results.
Simply from the looks of it, most would think rhodiola is just a bizarre-looking plant. In the natural health world though, it’s widely known as a powerful adaptogen taking supplement shelves by storm.
It’s a great herb full of antioxidants that help raise energy levels and much more.
But could its antioxidants potentially be good for protecting the skin, like other herbs are? Studies seem to agree.
One study even proved its antioxidants were powerful enough to fight oxidation, inflammation, and injury caused by painful skin scalds. This could mean it’s therapeutic even for gruesome and painful skin conditions, though more studies are needed.
Milk thistle: contrary to popular belief in the natural health world, it’s not just a great herb for the liver. In fact, better liver health may mean better skin health by default, since the liver is instrumental in removing impurities that cause acne, for example.
Still, milk thistle’s skin health benefits appear to go a little farther than that.
Research shows milk thistle may heal skin as effectively as it heals the liver.
In one study, it helped spontaneously heal cutaneous open wounds that were inflamed. This could mean good things for people dealing with inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and others.
What about the amazing immune fighter, astragalus? With compounds that stimulate the body to produce more white blood cells, and which help fight infections like the common cold and flu, could these carry-over benefits for skin health?
Science has some surprising answers to this question.
In one study, topical application of astragalus helped relieve atopic dermatitis (also called atopic eczema), which can have origins in immune dysfunction or be caused by allergic reaction—also immune-related.
More than that, astragalus helped skin lesions heal, improved skin structure and thickness, and stimulated healing in skin cells to restore appearance, health, and normal anti-inflammatory cellular responses.
If that’s not good for skin health, then we don’t know what is!
It’s a favorite medicinal mushroom among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. And now, cordyceps could possibly have an important place in natural skin health: for beauticians, dermatologists, and anyone else who wants to look after their skin for any reason, for skin-deep reasons or not.
Why? Because apparently, it protects DNA in the skin.
A study on cordyceps showed that it protected DNA from UV sun exposure in the skin, thus shielding it from dangers that could damage it, make it age faster, or cause conditions to develop.
However, this research was very preliminary. More will be needed before regarding cordyceps as an effective skin therapy.
It may surprise some that early research is finding potential in licorice root for skin health. It’s especially surprising since licorice is more commonly associated with improving gut health, thyroid health, and immunity.
Taking licorice for these health issues could also benefit skin as an extra.
One study even suggested licorice could be helpful for healing a condition like psoriasis, which involves itchy, flaky, dry, or patchy and inflamed skin. In this study, it appeared to do so through a type of anti-allergy effect. It helped skin cells behave more normally while suppressing inflammation at the same time.
Could this one day make licorice a psoriasis drug? With more studies, it could be possible—though not quite yet.
HOW ELSE CAN SKIN HEALTH BE SUPPORTED?
Beyond these, what else could help improve skin health or to better manage one’s skin condition in addition to what health professionals recommend?
Try these good habits and lifestyle tips:
- Drink plenty of water (the purer the water, the better)
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of high quality, restorative sleep
- Quit, cut down on, or protect against damages from smoking
- Cut down on inflammatory foods (like sugar, processed foods)
- Take care of gut health
- Take care of the liver
- Eat better (more dietary fiber and nutrient dense foods)
- Eat plenty of healthy fats
- Get healthy amounts of sunshine
TRY HE SHOU WU: THE ULTIMATE HERB FOR BETTER SKIN HEALTH
Many herbs and mushrooms are shown to help skin health and maybe even enhance what’s already being done to help a skin condition.
Of all botanicals for better skin in this article, He Shou Wu is our choice herb.
Find this mythical herb in Prepared He-Shou-Wu formula: containing sustainably grown and harvested herb, aged to perfection, and then stewed with black beans the traditional way for maximum effectiveness and skin benefits all around.
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