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treatment for psoriasis

  • Used in Eastern folk medicine for centuries, the health-giving properties of the Chaga mushroom are gaining more attention in the West. As a medicinal mushroom, emerging research has found that Chaga packs quite a punch, and demand for this antioxidant powerhouse has increased over recent years.

    Chaga mushrooms grow in cool areas in the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, Russia, Korea and North America. It typically grows on birch trees and can vary in size from five to twenty inches. The shape of Chaga can vary and it grows on different parts of the outside of 'host' trees. It has a hard, cracked exterior similar in appearance to charcoal, and a softer brown-golden yellow interior.

    Medicine through the ages

    Chaga mushroom has been referred to by a number of different names including, "The king of medicinal mushrooms," "A gift from God" and "The mushroom of immortality." Historically, it has been widely used in Eastern folk medicine to treat many diseases. These range from ailments of the stomach, lungs and kidneys to skin diseases. It has also been used as a general supplement for the vigor of the human body.

    Today, Chaga mushroom has not been forgotten and is used as a health supplement in a number of different ways. Most commonly it is made into a tea, but you can also find it in the form of tinctures, powders, capsules and creams. The quality of the supplement depends on the quality of the raw materials, method of extraction, and the dosage.

    Let's take a look at the little known benefits of Chaga mushroom from its antioxidant qualities, through to its potential for cancer therapy.

    1. An antioxidant powerhouse
    Antioxidants are widely known for their ability to help counter the potentially harmful effects of free radicals. Studies have shown that the Chaga mushroom has considerably higher levels of antioxidants when compared with other medicinal mushrooms and popular antioxidant juices.1

    Melanin is the primary chemical substance that gives Chaga mushroom its superior antioxidant properties.2 Evidence of the protective antioxidant effects of this fungus was found in a study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.3 The study also determined that oxidative stress in lymphocytes was reduced in healthy individuals (the control group). These findings highlight the potential of Chaga as a valuable supplement to reduce oxidative stress in general.

    2. Potential for cancer prevention and treatment
    Phyto-sterols contained in Chaga are linked to its anticancer properties.4 Two of the main phyto-sterols contained in Chaga are lanosterol (45 percent) and inotodial (25 percent). Laboratory and animal studies have highlighted the anti-cancer effects of both of these ingredients. Research on humans is still needed. In one study, Chaga fraction prepared from dried fruiting bodies was subjected to anticancer evaluation. The elicited anticancer effects from the study were attributed to decreased tumor cell proliferation, motility and morphological changes induction.5

    Another study using human hepatoma cell lines shows Chaga mushroom as a promising therapeutic option for the treatment of hepatoma.6

    3. A proven treatment for psoriasis
    A continued regular intake of Chaga can lead to a full disappearance of psoriatic lesions without any extra treatment. One study noted that effective psoriasis treatment was evident after nine to twelve weeks over continuous treatment. Of the 50 patients with different forms of psoriasis that were treated, 38 were completely cured, a further eight showed improvements, and only four did not show improvement.7

    The study found that psoriasis therapy with Chaga is especially successful in cases when psoriasis occurs in combination with chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, liver and biliary system. There were no side effects observed during the Chaga treatments.

    4. Immune system support
    Studies support the immunomodulating properties of Chaga mushroom.8 This means that it can modify immune response or the functioning of the immune system by speeding it up when needed or slowing it down when necessary. This is largely as a result of beta glucans contained in the mushroom. These immune-boosting properties are powerful from a therapeutic point of view. They have seen Chaga used to support gastrointestinal health in Eastern cultures.

    5. Treatment for viral infections
    Studies have identified evidence of the antimicrobial action of Chaga mushroom. This is possibly due to the antiviral effect of lanosterol and/or the action of betulin and betulinic acid, all of which are components of the Chaga mushroom. Specifically, the benefits have been explored for cells infected by the herpes simplex virus.9,10

    Safety and precautions
    Chaga does not commonly produce side effects. However, caution should always be exercised, especially for those with medical conditions, or who are on any form of medication. Specifically, Chaga may affect blood-thinning and diabetic medications.11 Research is still emerging as are side effects and safety information. Most of the research has been completed in laboratory and animal studies. More studies on humans are required.

    Where to find out more about Chaga Mushrooms
    The Chaga 101 website offers a comprehensive guide to Chaga mushroom. It was created by a group of Chaga enthusiasts who wanted to separate truth from fiction and share their first hand experiences with Chaga. Here you can find more information on;

    • Where to find Chaga in the wild, and how to identify it
    • Harvesting with sustainability in mind
    • Preparation, including tried and tested recipes for Chaga tea, coffee and tinctures
    • Benefits, medicinal effects and side effects
    • Assistance in selecting high quality Chaga. Learn about what to look for during the buying process
    • Where to buy Chaga online

    The content in this article is not medical advice. All information is generalized, presented for informational purposes only, and presented "as is" without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Readers are cautioned not to rely on this information as medical advice and to consult a qualified medical, dietary, or other appropriate professional for their specific needs. This information has not been evaluated by the FTC, FDA or any other government agency and is not intended to "diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."


  • The skin’s outermost layer serves as a barrier to keep foreign matter out and to essential elements, such as moisture and water, in. Maintenance of this skin barrier is crucial to healthy functioning skin, while a damaged or diseased skin barrier is vulnerable to infection, irritants, and allergens. Furthermore, the loss of moisture often results in dry, flaky skin, which remains one of the most common and vexing of human disorders.1 Conversely, a healthy skin barrier means supple, younger, and less wrinkled looking skin without undue dryness—and the cornerstone of skin barrier regulation and repair is through the use of moisturizers.2

    Of course, when it comes to moisturizers, the sky’s the limit. There are myriad different types of moisturizing ingredients, many of which have some level of research to support their value. So where do you begin when deciding on which type of moisturizing ingredient to choose? Let’s start with the stratum corneum.

    The Stratum Corneum
    The stratum corneum (SC) is the outermost layer of the skin, which is often thought of as just dead skin cells. The truth is that the SC is a highly dynamic layer of cells that is essential to maintaining skin moisture. The structure of the SC can be analogized as a brick and mortar configuration. The bricks are flat hexagonal corneocytes, stacked in layers. The mortar of the SC consists of natural moisturizing factors (NMF) and lipids. The primary function of NMF is to attract and bind water in order to maintain moisture homeostasis in the SC.3 The most prevalent single component of NMF is pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), a derivative of amino acids.4

    Introduction To NaPCA
    Not surprisingly, PCA can be found in some commercial moisturizers. The form of PCA typically is the sodium salt of PCA (NaPCA), which is also naturally occurring in the SC.5 Researchers have determined that PCA contributes significantly to the SC water binding capacity. Biologically, this property allows the outermost layers of the SC to maintain liquid water against the drying action of the environment.6

    Of interest is the fact there is a significant age-related decline in the level PCA.7 Likewise, PCA is dramatically depleted in conditions such as psoriasis,8 and is also reduced as a consequence of washing with soap.9

    NaPCA primarily functions as a humectant moisturizer in skin and hair care products, including gels, creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, lipsticks, and foundations. It is typically used in a concentration range of 0.2 to 4 percent. A humectant is a substance that often has a molecular structure with several hydrophilic (water-loving) groups. This structure allows humectants to attract and retain the moisture in the air nearby via absorption, drawing the water vapor into or beneath the surface. As a humectant, NaPCA helps keep the skin hydrated and may also help other topical skin care ingredients to perform better.

    According to some skin care experts, when topically applied, NaPCA is able to mimic the NMF, which helps reduce signs of aging, such as lines, wrinkles, and dry skin. This results in a skin condition that is smoother, hydrated, and firm. Furthermore, the safety of PCA and NaPCA has been evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel concluded that PCA and NaPCA are safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products.10

    Clinical Research On NaPCA
    In one study,11 the medical and biological literature was reviewed with a focus on the role of PCA and NaPCA in skin, its metabolism, its functions. The study also included a summary of eight years of laboratory evaluation work carried out on creams and lotions containing PCA and NaPCA, assessed by biophysical and clinical methods. The results definitely demonstrated that PCA is a hydrating agent and that cosmetic preparations containing NaPCA improved the condition of dry skin in the short or long term. The mechanism of action was found to involve the metabolism and physiological role of PCA in stratum corneum.

    Another study12 examined the efficacy of NaPCA. A product containing NaPCA was found to increase the water-holding capacity of isolated animal corneum. In a human trial, skin dryness and flakiness were assessed by trained assessors. Results were that NaPCA product was more effective than a control product in reducing dryness, and equally effective as a similar established product with a different humectant system. Other research has shown similar beneficial results with the topical use of NaPCA.13

    NaPCA/PCA is the most prevalent natural moisturizing factor in human skin. It promotes SC water binding capacity, allowing the SC to maintain liquid water against the drying action of the environment. NaPCA/PCA levels can decline with age, skin conditions like psoriasis, and even with washing with soap. Topical use of cosmetic products containing NaPCA hydrates the skin and has been demonstrated to reduce skin dryness.


    1. Harding CR, Rawlings AV. 18. Effects of Natural Moisturizing Factor and Lactic Acid Isomers on Skin Function. In Loden M, Maibach HI. Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Chemistry and Function, 2nd Edition. CRC Press; 2005:187–209.
    2. Schwartz J, Friedman AJ. Exogenous Factors in Skin Barrier Repair. J Drugs Dermatol. 2016 Nov 1;15(11):1289 – 94.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Fowler J. Understanding the Role of Natural Moisturizing Factor in Skin Hydration. Pract Dermatol. 2012;July:36 – 40.
    5. Laden K. Natural moisturization factors in skin. Am Perfum Cosmet. 1967; 82: 77–9.
    6. Harding CR, Rawlings AV. 18. Effects of Natural Moisturizing Factor and Lactic Acid Isomers on Skin Function. In Loden M, Maibach HI. Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Chemistry and Function, 2nd Edition. CRC Press; 2005:187–209.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Tucker R. What evidence is there for moisturizers? Pharm J Online. 2011;1:1– 4.
    9. Fowler J. Understanding the Role of Natural Moisturizing Factor in Skin Hydration. Pract Dermatol. 2012;July:36 – 40.
    10. Sodium PCA. The Derm Review. Retrieved April 22, 2019 from
    11. Clar EJ, Fourtanier A. Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid and the skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 1981 Jun;3(3):101–13.
    12. Middleton JD, Roberts ME. Effect of a skin cream containing the sodium salt of pyrollidone carboxylic acid on dry and flaky skin. J Cosmet Sci. 1978;29(4):201–205.
    13. Middleton JD, Roberts ME. Efficacy of a Skin Cream Containing Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid in Reducing the Incidence of Subclinical Dry Skin. In: Marks R, Dykes PJ (eds). The Ichthyoses. Springer, Dordrecht; 1978:177 – 80.