For thousands of years, medicinal mushrooms have been used for a myriad of health benefits both internally and externally. In fact, mushrooms are considered superfoods because they are abundantly rich with micronutrients, along with immune-supporting polysaccharides, enzymes and antioxidants. Fungi are so complex, they belong to their very own kingdom!
Paul Stamets summarizes these organisms best: “Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.”
Currently, our spotlight is on Tremella, or Tremella fuciformis, a distinctively shaped mushroom that resembles a gelatinous flower or jellyfish. It’s no wonder that Tremella is also referred to as “White Jelly Leaf Mushroom”.
In ancient times until now, Tremella has been highly regarded for its extensive range of healing, revitalizing and beautifying properties. It’s been used in Chinese cuisine for centuries and by herbalists for its medicinal actives which we’ll explore further.
Medicinal Qualities of Tremella
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tremella provides Qi (life energy), nourishes many organs including the lungs and liver, and is a powerful tonic for the immune system.
For the lungs. it's beneficial for dry coughs or even more chronic conditions like bronchitis.
For the liver. it can help strengthen and detoxify, improving overall liver function.
Like all medicinal mushrooms, Tremella is rich with polysaccharides and beta-glucans, which act as immune-modulators and stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms.
And it doesn’t stop there — studies have shown that Tremella supports the health of our nervous system, as it has demonstrated neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects.
The nutritional profile for Tremella includes:
∙ Protein and amino acids
∙ Phenols and polyphenols
∙ Organic acids
In addition to being a potent immune stimulant, one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin D and containing high levels of antioxidants, Tremella is brimming with medicinal properties, as you can see!
Tremella for Beauty
Now this is where it gets even more interesting. There have been many compounds extracted from mushrooms that have enhanced the quality of beauty products overtime. A few of these substances include: ceramides (which make up 50% of your skin’s protective barrier), omega fatty acids (the skin’s essential building blocks), resveratrol (a powerful antioxidant offering supreme age-defying potential) and azelaic acid (an effective acid for brightening and soothing blemish-prone skin).
Tremella has an ancient beauty story of it’s own and in our opinion, takes the reins for being the number one beautifying mushroom. It has even been said that during the Tang Dynasty in China, Princess Yang Guifei (719-756) used Tremella in her beauty rituals to keep her skin radiant.
What’s particularly impressive about Tremella is it’s intense hydrating properties. In one study, Tremella was shown to have a greater moisture-binding capacity than Hyaluronic Acid. When 0.05% Tremella polysaccharides were added to skin care products versus 0.02% hyaluronic acid, Tremella showed significant moisture retention ability, creating a supple and plump appearance on the skin. This shows that Tremella makes a wonderful alternative to hyaluronic acid, and as you know, our bodies produce hyaluronic acid, though as we age, it’s production starts to decrease — this is why it’s imperative to apply topical forms of this hydrating ingredient!
Tremella extract is also comparable to other lightening and brightening compounds such as the popular arbutin, vitamin C or kojic acid.
Tremella is of a different caliber when it comes to enhancing beauty. We’re excited to see this magical mushroom incorporated into skin care products around the world!
The Neuroprotective and Neurotrophic Effects of Tremella fuciformis in PC12h Cells. Kum Ju Park, Sang-Yun Lee, Hyun-Su Kim, Matsumi Yamazaki, Kenzo Chiba and Hyo-Cheol Ha. Mycobiology. March 2007.
Antioxidation activities of polysaccharides extracted from Tremella fuciformis Berk. Liu P, Gao X, Xu W, Zhou Z, Shen X. Chinese Journal of Biochemical Pharmaceutics. March 2005.
Effect of polysaccharides from Auricularia auricula underw, Tremella fuciformis Berk and spores of Tremella fuciformis Berk on ageing. Chen Yi-jun et al. Chinese Journal of Modern Applied Pharmacy. 1989-02
Mushroom Cosmetics: The Present and Future. Yuanzheng Wu, Moon-Hee Choi , Jishun Li , Hetong Yang and Hyun-Jae Shin. Department of Chemical Engineering, Graduate School of Chosun University, Gwangju 501-759, Korea. Biology Institute of Shandong Academy of Sciences, Jinan 250014, China. Published: 8 July 2016
Abby Stoecker is a Licensed Esthetician with 9 years of experience in the beauty industry. Her journey has led her to experience first hand the entire cycle of the esthetics industry—first working as a practitioner, then as an Account Manager/ Brand Evangelist at a skin care product company (ASC), and previously as an Educator at Cinta Aveda Institute where she originally studied for her Esthetics License almost 10 years ago. Currently, she is freelancing with start up skin care brands in the green beauty space. Her objective is simple—spread awareness, educate and make people feel their best when it comes to the decisions they make for their wellness and beauty. Abby finds immense joy in navigating clients through the world of skin, helping each person craft their own at-home rituals to achieve balance, inside and out. You can find her on most mornings with a face mask on, coffee in hand, listening to “The Daily” podcast.