According to Swedish botanist Linnaeus of the 18th century, tremella was known as “sky fall”... it was thought to originate from fallen star matter (1). And we can't help but agree, it not only physically resembles astral matter, this stuff tastes absolutely magical.
This youth-restoring mushroom not only helps the body to slow down the natural signs of ageing, but also actively works to support the body in its fight against the enemies of youth in our modern lifestyle. For literally thousands of years, noble men and women of the Orient used tremella(Tremella fuciformis) as a youth-preserving tonic, to create a healthy, radiant complexion. We are so grateful that this wonderful beautifying tonic herb has graced us with her presence. She is a joy to look at and a major joy to consume. Read on to learn all about the tremella mushroom.
Tremella is an edible fungus and has several other names like Jelly Mushroom, Silver Ear Mushroom and Snow Fungus. It's the mushroom that really, surprises us all. It's one of the, if the not THE, best mushie to introduce to that person in your life who is feeling the "...but I don't like mushrooms, they taste weird...' vibes. We absolutely love this medicinal mushroom for its ability to be eaten straight off the spoon. (Did I mention it's delicious?)
This very gentle acting medicinal mushroom has long been considered a beauty superfood. Used for centuries, a species of tremella (aka yellow butchers broom) was used in British folk lore for the treatment of chilblains. Another species (aka silver ears) was a favourite during the 16th century as a daily tonic for overall vigour and longevity. This mushroom is a powerhouse in its own right - it's high in antioxidants and a potent anti-inflammatory. Plus its a prebiotic, a powerful demulcent (soothes the stomach), modulates the immune system AND supports healthy cholesterol profiles. Plus, did I mention how delicious it is?
Tremella not only tastes amazing, it is jam-packed full of powerful nutritional constituents:
This gorgeous-looking adaptogen has incredible beautifying benefits, but read on to see how beneficial it can be for cardiovascular and gut health too. Read on:
We need look no further than the actual fresh tremella and the amazing beautifying skin benefits are no surprise. The gelatinous, plump and soft mushroom can provide moistness and softness to the skin, via the lubrication it brings to the fascia (deep tissue) and connective tissue. I mean, look at those frills! They are pretty. And if you decide to bring tremella into your life, you will be pretty too ;)
Reshetnikov et al. (2000) showed tremella stimulates vascular endothelial cells, essentially bringing support and nourishment to the outer skin. Reviews of decades of research suggested that tremella has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic effects (3) BOTH of which are critical to beautiful, healthy, glowing skin. Plus tremella's rich phytochemical profile further helps it promote a radiant and youthful complexion.
In fact, tremella basically mimics the effects of hyaluronic acid (HA). HA, often referred to as the 'molecule of youth' is a natural substance which is found in the skin. HA is a gelatinous compound that lubricates the bodily organs (think eyes, joints and skin); tremella supports bringing in and holding moisture in the body and is essential for plump, flexible skin. We also know that HA declines as we age, so tremella really is a beautiful adaptogen to take on your longevity journey.
Our little frilly friend contains a powerhouse of antioxidants. You want as many of these in your life as possible :) They are the star of all the molecules! Free radicals are not what you want; free radicals are basically atoms that have gone rogue. Without going too deep into the rabbit hole, free radicals are associated with everything you don't want: Alzheimer's, unhealthy ageing, chronic diseases and cardiovascular events. The beauty of antioxidants is they come in and basically neutralise free radicals. Tremella's potent ability to scavenge rogue free radicals helps you age more gracefully, have more youthful looking skin and stay healthier, longer. Tremella's impressive phytochemical profile continues to be clinically researched for its beautifying effects.
The antioxidant news gets even better; tremella has also been shown to stimulate our bodies master internal antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD is the ultimate free radical scavenger. SOD has known restorative action in sun damage, ageing and wrinkling of the skin (4). So tremella really has wonderful benefits for those youthful skin vibes, via its positive antioxidant actions.
Tremella continues to be considered to be one of the best tonics for prevention of
atherosclerosis and plaque formation in Japanese Kampo medicine through its ability to lower lipids profiles within the body (1).
A study completed on rats examined the effect tremella would have on blood and liver lipid levels. After four weeks, total serum cholesterol was significantly decreased, as was LDL cholesterol(5). These promising effects suggest tremella could have powerful effects on lowering cholesterol.
Tremella is an exquisite herb for the lungs. For those with a lung Yin deficiency, especially excessive dry coughing, tremella can be really useful for lubricating and soothing the lungs. Tremella can help soothe and provide relief of upper respiratory tract inflammation. (We wouldn't really promote its use for a wet cough, try Cordyceps instead). Tremella provides nourishment to the lungs, whilst also being an immunoprotective Lung tonic, by moistening and lubricating.
According to the Chinese wisdom, the lungs actually control the skin so by balancing and improving the function of the lungs, will greatly benefit any skin issues (connecting the dots here folks, tremella is a beautiful skin and lung tonifier).
While we bang on about how beautifying tremella is, it's neuroprotective characteristics are nothing to dismiss. Park et al. (2007) clinically examined tremella and its neuroprotective effects (2). The results suggested that tremella may be a potent supporting agent during times of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's disease. Ju and co. (2007) further supported these findings, exploring the polysaccharides specific to tremella. It was found these polysaccharides promoted synaptic growth of essential brain cells and the researchers suggested tremella may be a therapeutic support for those experiencing Alzheimer's disease (6).
This gorgeous adaptogen was essentially only available to royalty and those in the very upper class. According to the classic texts, Yang Guifei was one of the four most beautiful women in China's history. She lived during the Tang dynasty times (719-756) and it was thought the secret behind her beauty and ageless complexion was attributed to her daily use of tremella. If it's good enough for one of the four most beautiful women in China, it sounds ok for me ;P The ancient wisdom of the Taoist used tremella as a longevity tonic, specifically to preserve youth.
We call tremella the ‘dessert mushroom’ due to its beautiful, slightly sweet vanilla flavour. I'm quite certain I have mentioned it tastes great. It is a really versatile tonic herb to add to any of your favourite sweet foods or drinks. You can add it to inject some sweetness and texture into hot tonics, smoothies and savoury dishes or turn it into an extra healthy dessert ingredient. Try these recipes as a start (or just spoon straight into your mouth. I'm certain I've mentioned how yummy it is?):
Tremella straight off the spoon is a real joy
SuperFeast Tremella is:
No contraindications have reported in medical literature or the ancient Chinese texts concerning the consumption of tremella mushroom.
Honestly, I have had to stop buying trem, because I was using it too fast and it was becoming an expensive habit ;P It is truly delicious and with all the wonderful health benefits, you'd be crazy not to get some. If you are especially interested in tonic herbs and beauty, check out our skin article, you'll love it.
Resources1. Rogers 2011, The Fungal Pharmacy, The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms and Lichens of North America, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.