When we think of medicinal mushrooms, we might think of mushrooms that boost cognitive function (like lion’s mane) or enhance physical endurance (cordyceps, anyone?). We may not often think of a functional mushroom as a beauty mushroom.
Believe it or not, tremella mushroom isn’t just a unique and beautiful superfood; it’s also a nourishing skin savior that can leave your complexion glowing.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about the tremella mushroom and why it’s been treasured by Asian cultures for centuries. We’ll also talk about how this striking mushroom can easily incorporate into any wellness routine. Let’s jump in!
Tremella mushroom, also called tremella fuciformis, is slightly different from most medicinal mushrooms. Like cordyceps, tremella mushroom is a parasite and, more specifically, a parasitic yeast. Its growing cycle is interesting. It starts growing as a jelly blob and will stay that way until it finds a specific wood-decomposing fungus. This match made in mushroom heaven allows the jelly to turn into the translucent jellyfish-like tremella mushroom we’re familiar with. It may not sound like a leap, but trust us, it’s a mushroom glow-up.
Other names you might come across include snow fungus, snow mushroom, silver ear mushroom, white jelly fungus, yin ear, white jelly leaf, chrysanthemum mushroom, and white jelly mushroom (1).
These mushrooms usually start out looking like wet jelly blobs that are whitish and translucent. As they grow, they form ear-shaped leaflets and can be rather frilly looking, not unlike a chrysanthemum flower (1). If you can picture coral delicately moving with the current underwater, you can understand how strangely elegant and beautiful this medicinal mushroom is.
Tremella mushrooms are found worldwide and typically grow attached to the bark of deciduous trees. These mushrooms like cool and humid environments; as such, extended periods of rain often encourage tremella mushrooms to grow more plentifully.
In North America, you can find tremella mushrooms in the southern United States. You can also find them in Mexico, China, Japan, and Korea. While these shrooms generally favor a subtropical environment because of their affinity for moisture, you can also find them in wetter temperate climates (1).
In traditional Chinese medicine, the tremella mushroom is revered for its beautifying and healing effects on the body. This unique and sacred mushroom is even mentioned in the Bencao Gangmu, one of the most complete books in the history of Chinese medicine (2). Also known as the Compendium of Materia Medica, this historical document was written over 27 years by Li Shi-Zen, a medical expert. Completed in 1578 during the height of the Ming dynasty, it describes all plants, herbs, animals, and minerals believed to have medicinal or healing properties (3).
Traditional medicine schools used tremella mushrooms to support lung health by minimizing inflammation and infections. This isn’t the only organ that benefits from tremella’s healing properties; it was also used to quell infections and inflammation affecting the liver (2).
Psst: There’s reason to believe the use of tremella mushroom dates back even further to the Tang dynasty (4). Yáng Guìfēi, one of the four beauties of China and an imperial concubine, lived during the golden age of the Tang dynasty (618-907). During this period, Chinese art and literature flourished. It’s said she used tremella mushroom to enhance her beauty (5).
Like other medicinal mushrooms, tremella mushrooms contain beta-glucans and polysaccharides that support immune system modulation, brain health, and more. Here are some of the ways tremella mushroom benefits the body.
There’s no doubt tremella mushrooms help keep your immune system functioning optimally. Studies have demonstrated tremella’s antitumor properties and ability to modulate the immune system (2). Tremella polysaccharides play an essential role in activating macrophages, T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes, and demonstrate an ability to inhibit the development of sarcoma, lung, liver, and prostate cancers (6). This helpful little mushroom has even shown an ability to foster microbial diversity in the colon (7).
Did you know that tremella mushroom has a positive effect on brain health? Research has shown tremella exhibits a neuroprotective on cell damage and may promote neuron growth. Animal studies revealed how tremella improved the learning and memory ability of mice by reducing harmful metabolites and the deterioration of brain neurons (6).
While we won’t promise adding tremella mushroom to your wellness routine will make you a genius, it can boost your brain health by improving focus and cognitive function (7).
Tremella mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they can help reduce the effects stress has on your body. Yes, it’s important to manage stress in your life as it can lead to high cholesterol, contributing to heart disease and a host of other health conditions. However, these medicinal mushrooms can help your body adapt internally and externally to stressors, making it easier for your body to regulate itself (7).
This jellyfish-like mushroom is high in antioxidants and has an ability to scavenge free-radicals, which can prevent oxidative stress (6).
Think of antioxidants as firefighters and free radicals as the fires they put out. Instead of operating in your local neighborhood, these little helpers work inside your body. Antioxidants patrol around the clock to find and extinguish free radicals before they wreak havoc and cause inflammation. In a way, tremella mushroom acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Aside from their antioxidant content, tremella mushrooms are high in dietary fiber, protein, calcium, and Vitamin D.
One of the most intriguing benefits tremella mushroom has to offer comes in the arena of skin health, inside and out.
Tremella positively impacts skin hydration, repairs the skin barrier (supports healthy skin), and maintains overall skin health. Studies have shown how tremella can reduce skin damage caused by UV rays. Overexposure to UV light can cause premature aging, increase fine lines, and negatively impact collagen and elasticity levels in the skin.
Topically, tremella polysaccharides increase both moisture and collagen content in animal studies. Internally, tremella can regenerate collagen, resist UV damage, and promote wound healing.
It’s also far more cost-effective than other traditionally used ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid (6).
Whether you have dry skin or are looking for a natural anti-aging solution, it’s worth looking for tremella mushrooms as an ingredient in your skincare or internal supplementation.
Ethically wildcrafting tremella mushrooms starts with learning the distinction between ethical wildcrafting and foraging.
Foraging has become a catchall term for gathering plants, herbs, and other food sources, while wildcrafting focuses on harvesting those local resources for medicinal needs. Aside from terminology, their approaches are also very different.
Wildcrafting involves being mindful of the environment and local ecosystem. Before heading out to forage for wild-grown snow mushrooms, be sure and keep a few things in mind.
Take time to learn about any dangerous lookalikes you could encounter and whether or not there are any endangered or threatened species in your local area. And be mindful of where you’re harvesting; securing any permits and permission is a good idea before venturing out.
Educate yourself on the appropriate harvesting techniques for what you intend to gather. Much of the time, the parts of the mushrooms we’re gathering are the fruiting bodies and are only one part of the equation.
Just beneath the surface, most mushrooms are connected to mycelium, a delicate and sophisticated communication network sometimes referred to as the “wood wide web.” Proper harvesting means keeping the mycelial connection intact and undisturbed.
Being mindful of how you approach wildcrafting can make the difference between an ecosystem thriving for generations to come and one that falters.
With so many different ways to enjoy the benefits of tremella mushrooms, it’s a cinch to incorporate this medicinal mushroom into your wellness routine. Here are some of the ways you can start experimenting with tremella mushroom.
Unlike some medicinal mushrooms that are too woody to be used in cooking (like chaga and reishi mushrooms), tremella mushroom is a delicious addition to several recipes. They create a gelatinous texture in soups and can add a chewy element to other dishes. Tremella mushroom has a mild flavor, so much so that it will take on the flavors of whatever it’s added to.
Consider adding tremella mushroom to a wild mushroom stew (shiitakes and golden oyster mushrooms would be delightful here as well) or make a beautifying tremella soup recipe. This mushroom also makes a refreshing addition to salads or even smoothies and puddings.
If you’d like to skip the cooking, no problem. Tremella mushroom supplements are a convenient way of including tremella mushrooms any time of day and without the trip to a specialty supermarket.
In general, expect to find tremella mushrooms in tincture, powder, or capsule form. All of these are easy to incorporate into your morning coffee and evening tea, or to take on the go.
Whenever you shop for mushroom supplements, we highly recommend buying from companies that are transparent about sourcing and how their mushrooms are processed. Look for third-party testing to ensure your tremella mushroom extract or tremella mushroom powder is free from pesticides and other contaminants.
Tremella mushroom is becoming an ever-popular ingredient in skincare products, which means you can enjoy the internal and external benefits tremella mushroom offers. Look for tremella mushrooms as an ingredient in skin serums, toners, moisturizers, or face masks.
From skin to brain health, immune system support, and even stress relief, it’s clear tremella mushrooms are one of nature’s greatest hidden beauty secrets. These unique mushrooms nourish our bodies inside and out and are endlessly versatile in the kitchen.
For more mushroom happenings, including news and breakthroughs on medicinal and psychedelic mushrooms, be sure to keep up with us on shroomer.
Stamets, Paul. Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Ten Speed Press, 2011. https://fungi.com/collections/books-by-paul-stamets/products/growing-gourmet-and-medicinal-mushrooms
Hobbs, Christopher, PhD. Christopher Hobb’s Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide. Storey Publishing, LLC, 2021. https://christopherhobbs.com/hobbs-news-archive/christopher-hobbss-medicinal-mushrooms-the-essential-guide/
“Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》 Compendium of Materia Medica) | Silk Roads Programme,” n.d. https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/silk-road-themes/documentary-heritage/ben-cao-gang-mu-bencaogangmu-compendium-materia-medica
Department of Asian Art. “Tang Dynasty.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2001. Accessed June 24, 2023. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/tang/hd_tang.htm
Yina Beaute. “Tremella - The Magical Snow Mushroom.” Yina, November 18, 2018. Accessed June 24, 2023. https://yina.co/blogs/wellness-guide/magical-snow-mushroom
Ma, Xia, Meng Yang, Yan He, Chuntao Zhai, and Chengliang Li. “A Review on the Production, Structure, Bioactivities and Applications of Tremella Polysaccharides.” International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology 35 (January 1, 2021): 205873842110005. https://doi.org/10.1177/20587384211000541
———. “Tremella Mushrooms May Boost Cognitive Health, Skin Elasticity, Immunity, and More.” Real Simple, June 23, 2023. Accessed June 24, 2023. https://www.realsimple.com/tremella-mushroom-benefits-7501193