Mushrooms are known for their many health benefits, but tremella mushrooms just might be the ultimate anti-aging beauty mushroom! Tremella has been used for centuries for its beauty-enhancing benefits, which explains why it’s also called the beauty mushroom. In addition to helping keep skin looking smooth and glowing, tremella mushrooms have a lot of other health benefits, such as helping to boost the immune system and lower inflammation.
What Are Tremella Snow Mushrooms?
You’ve probably heard of champignon, portobello, shiitake, oyster and reishi mushrooms. But have you heard about tremella mushrooms? The tremella mushroom, or Tremella fuciformis, is an edible species of fungus that looks rather magical if you were to ever come across one in the wild. They can be found in many tropical and subtropical regions, as well as temperate areas of North America, Oceania, Europe, and Asia.
Belonging to the jelly fungun family, tremella mushrooms have gelatinous fruiting bodies the color of snow – hence their other English name, “snow fungus.” The fruiting body of the tremella resembles a loofah bath sponge, and just as the loofah is great for skincare, so are tremella mushrooms. These beautifying mushrooms are also given the name in Chinese of the “silver ear mushroom,” and in Japanese, they’re called the “white tree jellyfish”
For a long time, tremella mushrooms were only harvested in the wild. People started cultivating the mushrooms in China in 1894 during the Qing Dynasty, when it was understood that they were, in fact, mycoparasites (fungi that eat other fungi), and therefore needed other fungi for nutrition, not wood, like many well-known mushrooms.
Like other mushrooms, tremella is loaded with vitamin D, high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. But as you’ll learn, tremella contains other special benefits that make it the ultimate beauty superfood!
Tremella Mushroom Use in Ancient Chinese Medicine
Tremella mushrooms have been used in ancient Chinese society for centuries. Even Chinese royalty loved tremella’s effect on skin! One of tremella’s biggest fans was ancient Chinese imperial concubine Yang Guifei of the Tang Dynasty, who was believed to be one of the most beautiful women in Chinese history – she’s even considered as one of the “Four Great Beauties” in Chinese culture. When asked about her glowing skin and youthful complexion, she was reported to credit none other than tremella mushrooms!
Now, this was in the 8th Century, and while women in China used these skin-beautifying mushrooms, whole and extracted, for hundreds of years, tremella mushroom use dates as far back as 200 A.D. And tremella have been used for more than just helping to improve skin! In fact, tremella mushrooms are included in one of the earliest Traditional Chinese Medicine reference manuals of healing herbs called materia medicas. Indeed, for over 2,000 years, Chinese and Japanese herbalists have used tremella mushrooms as a strong yin tonic, believing it would provide support for the lungs, brain, stomach, heart and immune system.
Top 7 Health Benefits of Tremella Mushrooms
Below you will find the top 7 health benefits of tremella mushrooms and why consuming tremella can enhance your skin and your health. You will see why tremella mushrooms are superfood mushrooms, and it’s about time they get the global attention they deserve!
Benefit 1: Hydrating Skin and Reducing Wrinkles
We have to begin with the beauty benefit first because this is what tremella is best known for, as attested to by ancient Chinese beauty Guifei! Many of tremella’s health benefits are due to its high amounts of polysaccharides which are antioxidants that can help keep skin hydrated and healthy. Additionally, the high amounts of vitamin D in tremella play a role in its skin-boosting benefits; vitamin D is essential in helping skin cell growth, and both repairing and preventing premature skin aging. Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it plays a role in keeping skin hydrated and supple.
Tremella mushrooms and their unique polysaccharide compounds have water-retaining properties that are hard to beat. In fact, the water holding capacity of a tremella mushroom is almost 500 times its weight. This is important because keeping your skin nourished and hydrated is essential for your skin to look and feel young and healthy. In fact, according to the journal, Dermato Endocrinology, what keeps youthful skin so resilient, pliable, strong and supple is its high content of water. So, eating these hydrating mushrooms regularly can keep our skin hydrated, helping to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
Some studies have shown that tremella acts very similar to hyaluronic acid by pulling moisture to the skin. In fact, tremella mushrooms might be even more beneficial than hyaluronic acid in helping moisturize the skin. It has been suggested that since the hydrating molecules of tremella are smaller than those of hyaluronic acid, the hydrating molecules of tremella are able to penetrate the skin faster and more effectively. This extra moisture from tremella can improve the texture and elasticity of your skin. No wonder these are called the beauty mushrooms!
Benefit 2: Tremella mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants
Tremella mushrooms are packed with polysaccharides which have been shown to have both anti-aging and antioxidant effects because of their ability to prevent cell damage that’s caused by free radicals. These antioxidants can benefit our health in several ways. One important mice study found that polysaccharides could improve antioxidant enzyme activities. This is important because antioxidant enzymes help to minimize the damaging effects of free radicals in our bodies. Another study showed that the polysaccharides found in tremella mushrooms are able to suppress human skin injuries caused by hydrogen peroxide, thus alleviating some oxidative stress on our bodies.
Another valuable study we want to flag is a report from 2018 in Molecular Medicine Reports in which researchers used tremella polysaccharide extracts to investigate the protective effects of tremella. The study showed that the tremella extract reduced apoptosis (natural cell death for human growth and development) in human skin fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells that synthesize collagen, as well as produce the framework for body tissue and play a major role in wound healing. By supporting fibroblasts and having antioxidant effects, the polysaccharides in tremella mushrooms can help maintain skin integrity, helping to avoid saggy skin, weaker bones, and joint stiffness.
Benefit 3: Reduces inflammation
While inflammation is your body’s response to an injury and infection, too much inflammation, however, can take a serious toll on the body, leading to chronic illness and other diseases. Consuming tremella mushrooms regularly can help you fight inflammation! The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms reported back in 2000 that tremella mushrooms have strong anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to those polysaccharides once again. As further evidence of tremella’s inflammatory benefits, a promising 2018 study found that tremella mushrooms can inhibit the development and spread of inflammation. The study concluded that tremella mushroom polysaccharides could be potential reagents in preventing inflammation from spreading.
Tremella’s powerful anti-inflammatory benefits have greater implications for their ability to fight off inflammatory diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol, and tumors. Additionally, tremella’s anti-inflammatory properties can positively impact other health problems that are caused by inflammation, including acne, respiratory illness, and headache, among many others.
Benefit 4: Tremella mushrooms can help you manage your cholesterol
Tremella mushrooms have been shown to demonstrate beneficial cholesterol-lowering activity. In a four-week rat study in 1996, researchers found that rats with very high cholesterol who were on the tremella diet experienced a 31% decrease in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and a 19% decrease in total cholesterol concentration. Additionally, eating tremella led to a significant decrease in triglyceride levels, which, at high concentrations, can indicate an elevated risk of stroke.
As we age, cholesterol levels have a tendency to increase. Untreated high cholesterol can lead to a number of health problems, particularly heart attack or stroke. That means it may be wise to prevent these higher levels of cholesterol now from developing later, and tremella can possibly get you on the right track!
Benefit 5: Tremella mushrooms are high in Vitamin D
As discussed above, tremella mushrooms are loaded with Vitamin D. Not only is this Vitamin essential in giving tremella their skin-boosting benefits, but Vitamin D has a lot of other important health benefits for the entire body. Vitamin D can help us maintain strong bones and teeth by aiding the absorption of calcium. Additionally, getting enough Vitamin D is essential to keeping our immune system and brains healthy. Vitamin D also helps regulate cell growth and can play a role in protecting us against cancer.
Since Vitamin D is only found in a few food sources or obtained through the sun, many of us are deficient in Vitamin D. Luckily tremella mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D, so go ahead and get your Vitamin D through eating tremella!
Benefit 6: Tremella mushrooms can support your immune system
Your immune system serves a critical role for your body – it’s your body’s defense against all infections and foreign substances that could harm you. In other words, your immune system keeps you healthy! As we age, the immune system, like many other functions in the body weakens over time and doesn’t perform as well. This leaves many of us more susceptible to getting sick and healing more slowly.
A report from Kaunus University of Medicine found that beta-glucans, which are polysaccharides like the ones found in tremella, offer immune support as immunostimulating agents (9). They activate the body’s complement system (a part of the immune system), which enhances the function of macrophages and natural killer cells, both of which are important types of white blood cells. Thus, incorporating tremella in your diet could help keep your immune system strong and help you fight disease!
Benefit 7: Tremella mushrooms may have anti-cancer and anti-tumor effects
Tremella mushrooms may also play a role in the prevention of cancer. This is partly due to their concentration of polysaccharides and their role in helping to support the immune system. The same Kaunus University of Medicine report on beta-glucans showed that these polysaccharides can inhibit tumor growth and prevent oncogenesis, which is the process by which healthy body cells become cancerous. Furthermore, beta-glucans are able to reduce tumor proliferation and prevent tumor metastasis. Indeed, a 2018 study conducted in China concluded that the polysaccharides in tremella mushrooms can help fight lung cancer cells. The mushroom’s polysaccharides inhibited apoptotic cell death and autophagy induced by lipopolysaccharides, which are found in certain lung cancer cells.
Based on all the health benefits of tremella mushrooms, we can all agree that this ancient mushroom deserves its Eastern popularity, and it’s time we recognize it globally! Traditional Chinese Medicine, premodern herbalists, and the imperial consort Yang Guifei were all on to something big. As research continues to uncover the already impressive benefits of the beauty mushroom that is tremella, we hope that you give tremella mushrooms a try. Their polysaccharides have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antitumor, antioxidant, immunostimulating, hypocholesterolemic and, of course, antiaging overall. So why don’t you try one of the world’s most beautifying substances? The snow mushroom, or silver ear, or beauty mushroom – whichever you want to call it – has got it all!
How To Use:
Tremella mushrooms have a rather mild, yet slightly sweet taste. Today, these mushrooms are especially used in Southeast Asian soups and desserts, though their mild taste makes them good for a variety of dishes.
Or add tremella mushrooms to your favorite soup, dessert, smoothie, juice or more. They make for a nourishing tea, and can also be incorporated into homemade face masks.
Source: By Brittany DuBois for Further Food