Chaga is Rich in Melanin
Chaga Mushroom is very dense with a range of nutrients and compounds that humans need, including melanin. Melanin is a protective pigment in the skin, which is thought to help prevent damage from harmful UV rays.
The fact that it is packed with melanin has led many people to seek out Chaga Mushroom as a melanin supplement as some schools of thought have it that melanin is a natural protection against skin cancer. Though we should point out that medical advice generally states that you should always use protection against the sun, regardless of how much melanin you have in your body.
But let’s back up a little…
What is Melanin?
Melanin is a complex compound that is found in many places in nature. It is most widely known as the thing that gives our skin, eyes, and hair their pigmentation and is produced by our bodies in more significant quantities when we are exposed to sunlight.
Darker-skinned people have more melanin than lighter-skinned people, with a direct correlation being drawn between the shade of skin and the amount of melanin. This is also thought to be the reason why very light-skinned people suffer from sunburn more easily than dark-skinned people.
Melanin is made by a special kind of cell called a melanocyte, which we all have in the same quantities. The difference comes in with how much melanin those cells produce, which is a genetic factor. For most people, they will produce a similar amount of melanin to their parents.
Though there is no concrete evidence of causation, studies have shown that people with darker skin have fewer instances of skin cancer than those with lighter skin.
Is Chaga Melanin a Good Melanin Supplement?
The evidence supporting the notion that you can boost your melanin production by eating certain things is far from conclusive in the first place, but it is worth noting that there is no link between consuming melanin and boosting melanin levels.
Rather, the evidence seems to suggest that some vitamins and antioxidants, like vitamins A, C, and E, may help in this regard. Chaga Mushroom does include some of these, so there is reason to believe that it can help to bolster your melanin production; however, there is no evidence to support any boost of melanin production from Chaga being the result of consuming melanin.
Does Chaga Darken Skin?
As mentioned above, there is reason to believe Chaga Mushroom may contribute to increased melanin production, and increased melanin production would indeed cause a darkening of the pigment of your skin. That being said, any darkening as a result of Chaga melanin boosting would be minor and temporary. Like darkened skin as a direct result of exposure to the sun, the effects would wear off relatively quickly. However, unlike sun-induced darkening, the effects would likely be far less noticeable. For someone with very pale skin, there may be a more noticeable difference, but for people with anything from a light tan to black skin, you would not be able to tell.
Further complicating the relationship between Chaga Melanin and skin darkening is evidence that it may, in fact, contribute to the whitening of your skin. However, much like any boost that Chaga may have on your melanin production, the effects of this “whitening” would likely be too small to be noticeable.
Why Does Chaga Melanin Exist?
Melanin is a complex compound that is found in many places in nature, from humans to animals and, yes, even fungi. But Chaga Mushroom is thought to be one of the densest sources of melanin in the world, so why might that be?
There is no secret sauce to this unusual aspect of Chaga. Melanin creates pigmentation in plants just as it does in humans. The fact that Chaga melanin is so densely packed in is likely just because everything is so densely packed in in Chaga.
Is More Melanin Better?
Though it is suspected to help protect your body against harmful UV rays from the sun, the evidence around that aspect of melanin is far from conclusive, and there are no other known benefits to increasing melanin production. Aesthetically, if you prefer darker skin—and the popularity of the spray-tanning and sunbed industry would suggest many people do—then there may be a cause to want to boost melanin production safely. However, as mentioned above, any changes you might see from consuming Chaga would be minimal at best and may even cause your skin to lighten.
Other Skin-Related Benefits of Chaga
So, Chaga melanin may not be the answer to all your skin problems, but that doesn’t mean Chaga as a whole does not have plenty of benefits in that department.
Chaga contains vitamin E, which, as well as being an essential nutrient in helping your body strengthen its immune system, is also important in maintaining healthier skin and eyes. Vitamin E has been known to help with the healing of scars and burns and generally promotes cellular restoration, which is why it is often found as an ingredient in skin moisturizers. It is also an antioxidant, which helps to prevent cell damage through oxidation.
Unfortunately, the benefits of melanin as a supplement would appear to be greatly exaggerated in many cases, and even if they weren’t, it is questionable as to whether Chaga melanin would have the desired effects since there are actually different kinds of melanin that serve different purposes. For example, one type is responsible for hair, skin, and eyes, while another type of melanin determines the color of your neurons!
Of course, you never see the results of that particular type of melanin.
Still, Chaga contains other nutrients that have a more proven track record when it comes to looking after your skin and even in promoting melanin production. You may not be able to simply consume Chaga melanin to improve your own melanin count but can promote melanin growth through the nutrients in Chaga.
Remember, there are no quick fixes. No matter how much melanin you have, you should protect yourself against the harmful UV rays being thrown at you by the sun.