When you hear the word “mushroom”, the most likely image that pops into your head is that small squishy thing with the stalk and round cap. Maybe you even imagine Toad, the character from the Super Mario games who’s shaped like a mushroom. What if you found out that the small squishy thing can be used to rejuvenate people? It might surprise you, but there is such a mushroom, and it’s called the tremella mushroom.
The tremella doesn’t have the stalk-and-cap appearance we associate with most mushrooms. It actually has a jelly-like appearance, so it’s classified among the “jelly fungi”. Of the 100 species of tremella mushrooms worldwide, two species are cultivated for food, namely the Tremella fuciformis and the Tremella aurantialba. The Tremella fuciformis is the one used for its medicinal properties.
The T. fuciformis can be identified by its white, jelly-like appearance. It can be found in tropical and subtropical areas growing on the dead or fallen branches of trees. The mushroom can be found in countries like Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and China. The T. fuciformis has been monikered “white jelly mushroom”, “snow fungus”, and even “silver ear fungus” by the Chinese.
The Chinese have cultivated the T. fuciformis since the 19th century. It is used in sweet dishes like luk mei, combined with dried longans, jujubes, and other ingredients. It is also mixed in drinks and can be used as ice cream. These uses can be attributed to the mushroom’s jelly-like nature.
You won’t find T. fuciformis sold as T. fuciformis; instead, it is sold under its genus name, Tremella. Tremella can rejuvenate skin by providing vitamin D that aids in skin cell metabolism. When skin metabolism increases, blood flow to the skin also increases, resulting in smoother skin. Tremella also has liver-protecting properties.
Like the maitake and shiitake mushrooms, Tremella can enhance the immune system. The mushroom has acidic polysaccharides that boost the strength of white blood cells that protect the body from bacteria, viruses, and the like. In two separate studies, Tremella ranked alongside the maitake mushroom in terms of effectiveness in immune system enhancement.
Tremella can also regulate cholesterol levels and fight tumors. Tumors need their own vessel systems to develop and spread. A blood chemical found in Tremella, called platelet-activating factor (PAF), lessens the ability of blood to clot, arresting the spread of tumors. For more information on the Tremella mushroom, read the articles on seacoast.com/topic.php?health=tremella+health+benefits.