Skin is the largest organ of the human body so it only seems obvious that we must do all that we can to protect it. It’s exciting (for us mushroom lovers) to know that mushrooms can help! Extracts from the Reishi mushroom have been used recently in promoting skin health, wound healing, and in mitigating a variety of different skin disorders. However, this isn’t new science - Reishi has been used in Asian countries for the past 2000 years to improve an array of other health conditions when taken both orally and when applied topically to the skin.
Although the new research is preliminary, it has been shown that polysaccharides from Reishi mushrooms may help to repair diabetic ulcers. In one trial diabetic mice were provided Reishi orally and their diabetic ulcers had a faster rate of wound closure versus those that weren’t given Reishi. In addition, Reishi polysaccharides helped increase the viability and migration ability of human skin fibroblasts (the main cell type present in skin connective tissue). Fibroblasts are important because they differentiate into myofibroblasts, which are responsible for collagen synthesis and thus wound healing. Healthy collagen synthesis means healthy skin!
In a separate study, Reishi was also found to help protect against multidrug resistant strains of bacteria, which can sometimes be a problem when treating post burn infections. These infections require antibiotics, but with increased use of these pharmaceuticals, antibiotic resistance may occur and that’s something everyone wants to prevent. It’s comforting to know that we might be able to prevent the progression of antibiotic resistance just by using the extracts of medicinal mushrooms instead.
Lastly, some in vitro research demonstrates how Reishi may have anti-aging capabilities when it comes to the skin because it not only regulates gene expression in skin cells, but it was observed to stop the aging of fibroblasts after UVB exposure. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn because they penetrate the outer layer of skin and cause damage to skin cells. Does this mean taking Reishi extract after those days of too much sun can help to minimize damage to the skin and help us stay looking younger longer? Yes, please! There have also been recent in-vitro and in-vivo studies looking at Reishi and atopic dermatitis as well as Reishi and skin cancer. We’re hoping continued research will help us find out more about looking to reishi for supporting various aspects of healthy skin in the future!
 Yin Z, Yang B, Ren H. Preventive and Therapeutic Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) on Skin Diseases and Care. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1182:311-321. doi:10.1007/978-981-32-9421-9_14