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< class="article__title title chaga-mushroom-melanin-we-explored-the-connection"> Chaga Mushroom Melanin: We Explored The Connection>
Chaga Mushroom Melanin: We Explored The Connection
Jun 26, 23
Tags: Chaga
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

Chaga Mushroom Melanin: We Explored The Connection

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 8 min read
Chaga Mushroom Melanin: We Explored The Connection

Chaga mushroom is high in various minerals and compounds humans require, including melanin. Because it is high in melanin, many individuals use Chaga Mushroom as a supplement, as certain schools of thought believe melanin is a natural anti-cancer agent.

Although numerous foods can work as a melanin supplement, Chaga is often regarded as one of the most potent, as it can help protect both the skin and the hair from UV damage and may even help reduce the size of age spots.

So, let’s review Chaga mushroom melanin content and its benefits for the skin.

Understanding Chaga Mushroom

Understanding Chaga Mushroom

What is Chaga Mushroom?

Although commonly called "Chaga mushroom," it is NOT a fungus. Chaga is the colloquial term for a sterile conk or canker that arises after the parasitic fungus infects a hardwood tree (typically birch).

Chaga, or Inonotus obliquus, interacts one-sided with its host tree as a parasite. Its enzymes promote the simultaneous degradation of hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin (tree wood's three primary biological elements) from the living host's heartwood. The collapse of the heartwood weakens the tree's substructure, allowing the first traces of "Chaga" to emerge from within the tree.

Historical and Cultural Significance

The "King of herbs," Chaga mushroom, has been utilized medicinally for generations. It has long been utilized in Eastern Europe and Asia botanical medicine to increase immunity and overall health.

Some of the oldest applications date back thousands of years, when residents of Siberia's hilly terrain drank Chaga tea regularly. They would also apply the fungus topically and inhale it. The later versions are no longer utilized in current times. Chaga is now mostly drunk as tea.

Exploring Melanin

Exploring Melanin

What Is Melanin?

Melanin is a complex chemical present in various places in nature. The pigment is responsible for the color of the hair, skin, and iris (the colored area of the eye). The number or concentration of these color pigments impacts how the skin appears.

White people have low melanin levels, whereas black people have high levels. Other races have varying levels in between, with a direct association being found between skin color and melanin content. This is also thought to be why people with very light skin burn more quickly than those with dark skin.

Melanin is produced by a type of cell called a melanocyte, which we all have in equal numbers. The variation is due to the amount of melanin produced by those cells, which is determined by genetics. Most people will produce the same amount of melanin as their parents.

Various factors can also influence melanin synthesis. These might come from within or without the body. Aging is a common cause of low production of these color pigments. Environmental factors such as sun exposure and profession also play an essential role.

Tyrosinase is required for the body to produce adequate levels of melanin. This enzyme contains copper, which is required for the synthesis of melanin. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which are specialized cells. Melanin is further classified into sub-types which include:

  • Eumelanin:  Mostly determines the color of one's hair, complexion, and eyes.
  • Neuromelanin: A kind of melanin found in the brain. Normal neurological functioning requires healthy levels of this kind.
  • Pheomelanin: This type can be found in the skin and hair and is frequently responsible for natural red hair.

Melanin And Skin Health

What are the benefits of melanin? To many, the obvious answer is that the skin will become healthier and more evenly colored. While this is true, melanin has various skin benefits, including:

  • Better protection against UV rays
  • Lowers the risk of skin cancer.
  • Promotes fertility health.
  • Aids in the prevention of folate deficiency. Folate is essential for fetal development and fertility. It also supports numerous metabolic processes in the body and aids in the prevention of significant neurological illnesses. These include inborn brain and spinal cord malformations (neuro-tubal defects).

Now what is the benefit of Chaga mushroom for melanin? Let’s find out next.

Potential Connection Between Chaga Mushroom And Melanin

Potential Connection Between Chaga Mushroom And Melanin

Melanin-Stimulating Properties Of Chaga Mushroom

So, how Chaga mushroom helps melanin? Does Chaga mushroom increase melanin?

According to studies, Chaga mushroom promotes healthy and balanced melanin levels. The sclerotium, or dark, almost black outer layer of Chaga, contains a large quantity of melanin.

Chaga is even regarded as one of the world's richest natural sources of melanin. Because of the number of polyphenols found in melanin, it has high anti-oxidant levels, implying that consuming the fungi will assist in keeping your cells healthy.

In fact, Chaga has the greatest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score of any superfood, rating three times higher than acai berries on the measure. The research is ongoing to determine whether these benefits can be leveraged to develop anti-cancer drugs from the fungus.

Supporting Skin Health With Chaga Mushroom

Melanin, such as those found in Chaga, is thought to protect our skin from DNA damage by absorbing UV light. In one in vitro study(1), melanin was found to boost the sun protection factor (SPF) of gel sunscreens. Another study(2) discovered that melanin acts as a free radical scavenger, which can help your skin look younger for longer.

Chaga mushroom(3) inhibits and stimulates tyrosinase. The mushroom can diminish skin pigmentation by decreasing tyrosinase activity and increasing it by accelerating enzyme activity. When pigment is lost, decreased, or in excess, this could be effective for evening-out skin tones.

Practical Applications And Considerations

Practical Applications And Considerations

Using Chaga Mushroom For Skin Care

Consuming the fungus is the most typical way to reap the benefits of Chaga for the skin. You can also soak the mushroom in warm water. This will cause its bioactive ingredients to be released, resulting in nourishing effects that you can use in your favorite homemade mask.  You may also use the mushroom powder to make DIY masks.

Topical skincare products containing Chaga extracts are another alternative for providing anti-oxidants to the skin. The serums, moisturizers, and face masks enriched with Chaga can be applied directly to the skin. Always use a reputable Chaga mushroom skincare product and consult a dermatologist beforehand.

Safety And Side Effects

Supplements containing Chaga mushrooms are generally well tolerated, with few documented adverse effects. There have been no randomized human clinical trials to assess Chaga's safety. However, there is a long history of use in traditional medicine. If you have any medical issues, you should see a health practitioner before taking Chaga.

If you hope to extract Chaga melanin benefits, always use the mushroom and infused products responsibly and in moderation.  

FAQs About Chaga Mushroom Melanin

Is Chaga Mushroom Safe For Long-Term Use In Relation To Melanin Production?

Chaga mushrooms should always be used in moderation and the recommended dosage. According to current evidence, Chaga mushroom appears safe for long-term use.

Does Chaga Make You Look Younger?

Chaga mushrooms are abundant in anti-oxidants. These help fight free radical damage and make skin appear youthful.

How Quickly Does Chaga Work?

Chaga mushroom takes time to build up in your system. This means that the mushroom effects will take about two weeks to set in.

Key Takeaways

The high Chaga mushroom melanin content makes it a much sought-after skincare ingredient. The mushroom helps balance out uneven skin tone and makes skin appear younger. But keep in mind that there are no quick fixes. Regardless of how much melanin you have, you should protect yourself from the sun's dangerous UV rays.

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  1. Antioxidant activities and UV-protective properties of melanin from the berry of Cinnamomum burmannii and Osmanthus fragrans, (1)
  2. Reversal of the TPA-induced inhibition of gap junctional intercellular communication by Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extracts: effects on MAP kinases, (2)
  3. Inhibitory and Acceleratory Effects of Inonotus obliquus on Tyrosinase Activity and Melanin Formation in B16 Melanoma Cells, (3)

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