White fungus looks white or pale yellow, like coral in water. It has a few common names being silver ear or white wood ear. In ancient China, white fungus is very healthful for middle and old aged people, especially for people with lung disorders. Some of the quality white fungus in China is very expensive and young people give it to older people as a present on special occasions.
Physical function of the lungs
Over two thousand years ago, traditional Chinese medicine already recognised the lungs are located in the chest and have a relationship with the nose, throat, large intestine and skin. The lung is a very tender and moist organ. It likes to be clear and does not like dryness. I remember around thirty years ago when I studied anatomy at university, the teacher showed us a white and clear looking healthy lung, the other a lung damaged by smoking that looked black. It made me realise that the environment and lifestyle is very important for lung health.
The symptoms of the lungs
Chinese medicine considers the lungs are the first defence of the body, they help the body to fight against external pathogens. Also, the lungs help the large intestines for regular bowel movement function and help the skin. When the lung is weak or disordered, the body will have the following symptoms:
Lung qi and yin deficiency: lack of energy, shortness of breath, looking pale, low immune system function, easy to catch cold or hay fever, asthma, bronchitis, dry skin, eczema, constipation, dry nose, nosebleed, dry cough, dry throat.
In the clinic, clients who initially come to see me for their skin problems often tell me after that their nasal and hay fever symptoms have improved, because I treated the lung as the cause of their skin problem.
I suggest if you have any of the symptoms above you can eat some foods which can help lung function. White fungus is one of the foods I suggest you can eat.
Health benefits of white fungus
In one of the ancient traditional Chinese medicine texts, Ben Cao Zai Xin, it is recorded that white fungus tastes sweet and goes to the lung channel. It can moisten and clear the lungs. It is very suitable for lung function deficiency (lung qi and lung yin) and the following people:
- Someone who has chronic cough and dry cough with no phlegm
- Someone who has dry skin or constipation
- Someone who smokes and has dry throat and dry cough. White fungus can help reduce lung damage from smoking.
Diet therapy textbooks also record that modern science understands white fungus can improve the body’s immune system. If you always catch colds and flu, it is also suitable for you to eat.
Recipe 1: Rock sugar and white fungus soup dessert
Soak 1 or 2 white fungus in water for 2 to 3 hours. Chop them into small pieces and remove the hard part in the middle. Place into a saucepan with a thumb-sized piece of rock sugar and 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
If you cannot eat sugar please don’t use this recipe, or cook the white fungus without sugar.
Effects of this recipe: This is a very popular recipe in Chinese culture. It can help lung function, beautify and moisten skin. You can have it two times a week, especially in very dry or very hot weather.
Recipe 2: White fungus and pear soup
Soak 1 or 2 white fungus in water for 2 to 3 hours. Chop them into small pieces and remove the hard part in the middle. Boil the white fungus together with a chopped whole pear, including the pear seeds in 3 cups of water. Boil together and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the seeds before you drink the soup and eat the pear.
Effects of this recipe: Help to stop a dry cough, bowel movement and balance lung function. You can have this two times a week.
Recipe 3: White fungus porridge
Soak 1 or 2 white fungus in water for 2 to 3 hours. Chop them into small pieces and remove the hard part in the middle. Boil with three tablespoons of oats and three cups of water and simmer for 5 minutes. This can be part of your breakfast.
Effects of this recipe: strengthen lung function and help bowel movement.
During a cold or flu, or if you have diarrhoea or aversion to cold. Please don’t eat white fungus.
If you don’t know your body’s constitution please ask your experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner before eating.