In the past few years, there’s been a rise in CBD-based products and treatments within the health and wellness industry. In fact, the market is estimated to reach $2.1 billion by 2020. However, CBD in beauty is complicated, to say the least. While there is plenty of research out there proving that CBD can aid in anxiety, depression and pain relief, most big-name beauty brands haven’t quite caught onto the trend. The market is primarily dominated by indie brands, and mainstream distribution channels have yet to carry them in brick-and-mortar.
That’s where mushrooms come in. Named a 2018 emerging trend by the Global Wellness Summit, mushrooms have broken into the wellness world in a big way. Like CBD, mushrooms (both magic and regular) have huge health benefits. However, unlike CBD, regular mushrooms don’t have the added layer of complicated legalities.
Magic Mushrooms As Medicine
In 2017, Compass Pathways announced that they will be conducting clinical trials connecting the impact of magic mushrooms to depression. This will be the largest trial in history studying psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms).
As someone who is fascinated with the link between mushrooms and mental health, I dug a little deeper. There are similar studies emerging around the country, so I wondered: why have we never studied mushrooms like this before? The short answer is, we have—or at least, we’ve tried. Research regarding the health benefits of psilocybin began to emerge around the 1950-60s, only to be completely stopped by the Controlled Substances Act. The act, put in place by President Nixon, classified LSD and psilocybin as Schedule 1 drugs and therefore, and they were no longer legally allowed to be studied, even for medicinal purposes.
In the 1990s, however, researchers began to study the drug once again. Recent research has proved the effectiveness of mushrooms on mental health, such as:
- Depression: A study by Imperial College revealed that even a single dosage of psilocybin can reduce symptoms of reatment-resistant depression for weeks.
- End-of-life distress: Psilocybin is known to positively affect patients with terminal illnesses, such as cancer. In both NYU and John Hopkins studies, 80% of patients experienced huge reductions of anxiety, even seven months after a dose
- Addiction: Psilocybin can be “brain-resetting,” showing that 80% of heavy smokers had quit for at least six months after dosage, and alcohol-dependents had significantly reduced drinking habits, eight months post-dosage.
Mushrooms In Beauty
While research on magic mushrooms continues to grow, so does the trend of psilocybin-free fungi. Grocery store shelves carry chocolates, coffee, tea, and tonics that boast mushrooms as a main ingredient. One can even find experiential resorts that incorporate mushroom therapy, such as Emerson Resort & Spa. Here, in Upstate New York, guests can forage for fungi with the “mushroom man” and learn about all the benefits that it provides.
However, it seems that above all—mushrooms are most prevalent in beauty products.
There’s Tremella—the moisturizing mushroom present in popular brands such as Glossier (Priming Moisturizer) and Olay (Active Botanicals). According to The Cut, the water-retention characteristic of Tremella is similar (if not better) than hyaluronic acid, a proven facial moisturizing treatment.
Then there’s Reishi, a detox mushroom often found in food that has been used medicinally in China for over 2,000 years. It offer’s liver support when ingested, but it also fights blemishes topically.
You can find skin brightening effects in Shiitake mushrooms and stress relief in Cordyceps. There are also hair care benefits, such as ANUVA’s shampoo, which uses Reishi to combat dry and thinning hair. The list of benefits (and mushrooms) goes on and on.
I’m not going to lie. I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about mushrooms in beauty products. I remember rolling my eyes and thinking, “Is this really where we’re at?” However, with an open mind and a little research, I must admit, I’ve come around. In fact, I’ve already put a few mushroom-based products in my Amazon shopping cart.
Are mushrooms the new CBD?
Photo: Andrew Ridley via Unsplash