A mushroom ‘renaissance’? Immunity, skin health and wellness promise in cosmetics – Review

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The beta-glucans and polyphenols in mushrooms are particularly interesting for the cosmeceutical and nutraceutical spaces [Getty Images]
The beta-glucans and polyphenols in mushrooms are particularly interesting for the cosmeceutical and nutraceutical spaces [Getty Images]

Related tags mushrooms adaptogens immunity Skin health active beauty ingestible beauty inside-out beauty wellness beauty from within

As mushrooms continue to garner interest in the wider wellness category, certain compounds could offer future promise in the edible and topical beauty space, say researchers.

Writing in Food Science and Human Wellness​, researchers from Serbia, the Netherlands and Malaysia conducted a review on commonly used mushroom ingredients, beta-glucans and polyphenols, investigating their bioavailability, metabolic transformations, preclinical and human clinical research and safety. The researchers then looked specifically at use in nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals and considered modern trends around strengthening and balancing immunity.

“Among the scientific community, mushrooms are declared nature’s pharmaceutical factories,” ​the researchers wrote in the review. “They are rich in a vast array of active constituents and metabolites (classified as non-nutrients) such as dietary fibres and secondary metabolites, as well as polyphenols, nitrogen-containing compounds e.g. ergothioneine, terpenoids, sterols, lovastatin, and others that can improve cellular longevity and lifespan.”

“…Consequently, mushrooms are more than food, they fit perfectly as a novel market group which is known as nutraceuticals/mycoceuticals,” ​the researchers said.

Beta-glucans and polyphenols

In recent years, the researchers said more wellness and cosmetics companies were showing an “increase interest”​ in using mushroom ingredients, particularly beta-glucans and polyphenols.

They said beta-glucans from mushrooms, for example, demonstrated anti-tumour effects for cancer patients and bronchodilator potential for asthma sufferers. In cosmeceuticals, the researchers said the ability of beta-glucans to enter the stratum corneum and epidermis, and to penetrate deep into the dermis, offered alternatives to “other more invasive treatments”​ aimed at reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

The “widespread structural diversity of polyphenols”​ in mushrooms also offered important opportunities across nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals, the researchers said.

Mushroom polyphenols, for example, could be useful for immunocompromised patients with malignancies, viral or bacterial infections, influencing immunomodulatory processes involved in inflammatory response and carcinogenesis, they said. They also offered “great potential”​ in the design of new “immunity balancer formulations”.

In cosmeceuticals, mushroom polyphenols had the potential to “regulate inflammatory skin disorders”, ​the researchers said, as well as eczema, atopic dermatitis and photocarcinogenesis.

One of the disadvantages in commercialising polyphenol-based formulations, however, was the quantitative and qualitative variations in the polyphenol content in mushroom species, the researchers said. “As secondary metabolites with a protective role against radiation, mechanical damage, and microbial infection, their content in mushrooms depends on the locality and environmental conditions of growth. Besides, mushrooms possess the ability to absorb polyphenols from the substrate on which they grow.”

The researchers suggested this limitation could be overcome by using extracts or preparations based on mycelia grown under controlled conditions.

Innovation promise in medicine

Looking ahead, the knowledge built up in nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals could also be applied to medicine categories, the researchers said.

“Considering the presence of mushroom extracts rich in β-glucans and polyphenols in the nutraceutical and cosmeceutical sector to strengthen and balance immunity, all this integrated information regarding complete aspects of functionality will reduce or fill the gap in their application among complementary and integrative medicine and conventional medicine,”​ they concluded.


Source: Food Science and Human Wellness
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.fshw.2022.07.040
Title: “Mushroom β-glucan and polyphenol formulations as natural immunity boosters and balancers: nature of the application”
Authors: M. Kozarski et al.

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