Snow fungus and lung immune function
Snow fungus (Tremella fuciformis) is a species of mushroom with a very distinctive appearance that looks like white or pale yellow coral in water. It is also known as white fungus, silver ear or white wood ear mushroom or white jelly mushroom.
It has been treasured as a longevity tonic in Chinese medicine as far back as 200 AD in the classic Chinese medicine text Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing. In ancient times, only royalty and wealthy families could afford to consume snow fungus.
Nowadays, snow fungus is well known amongst Chinese for its anti-ageing and beauty properties and commonly consumed in soups and desserts. Quality snow fungus can be very expensive in China and younger people give it as a present to older people as a present on special occasions.
Physical functions of the Lungs in Chinese medicine
Over two thousand years ago, traditional Chinese medicine recognised that 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 moist 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 support the large intestines for regular bowel movement function and also support the health of the skin. When the Lung is weak or disordered, the body can be affected by the following Lung Qi and Yin Deficiency symptoms:
- Lack of energy
- Shortness of breath
- Looking pale
- Low immune system function, easy to catch colds
- Hay fever
- Dry skin, eczema
- Dry nose, nosebleeds
- Dry cough, dry throat
I suggest if you have any of the symptoms above you can ask your Chinese medicine practitioner about foods which can benefit the Lungs. Snow fungus is one of the foods I suggest you could eat.
Health benefits of snow fungus
Snow fungus has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine as a potent Jing and Qi tonic for thousands of years. It is believed to tonify the lungs, kidneys, heart, brain, stomach, and acts as a powerful tonic for the immune system. Snow fungus has been clinically used to help clear heat and dryness, replenish fluids in the body (Yin deficiency), to treat chest congestion, asthma, constipation, balance blood sugar levels and cholesterol (reduces LDL), and lower inflammation. Its rehydration and fluid replenishment qualities may be the best reasons to support its claims as one of the best beauty foods for the skin (Shahrajabian et al., 2020).
According to Chinese medicine, snow fungus is very suitable for people who have Lung Qi and Lung Yin Deficiency symptoms:
- 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
Modern research of snow fungus health effects
- Snow fungus polysaccharides stimulate the production of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the brain and liver. SOD is one of the most important super antioxidant enzymes in the body which can help to protect and regenerate skin.
- Snow fungus polysaccharides can regulate the expression of sirtuin proteins, which regulate many endocrine functions, protects organism from oxidative stress-related cellular events, promotes DNA stability, and decreases various age-related disorders, such as neurodegenerative disease, metabolic abnormalities, and cancer.
- Snow fungus polysaccharides play an important role in enhancing immune function by activating macrophages, T-lymphocytes, and B-lymphocytes, regulating non-specific immunity, humoral immunity and cellular immunity.
- Snow fungus has hydrating and moisturising properties equivalent to that of hyaluronic acid.
See our full list of scientific studies and references below.
During a cold or flu, or if you have diarrhoea or aversion to cold, please don’t eat snow fungus.
If you don’t know your body’s constitution please ask your experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner before eating.
Food as medicine (A disclaimer)
Our “food as medicine” articles share knowledge about health foods in the context of traditional Chinese medicine diet therapy and practices often dating back thousands of years. We also support this knowledge with references to published scientific research. Please keep in mind that scientific research into the health benefits of foods is still emerging and human research is limited.
Consuming a wide variety of natural foods as part of a balanced diet is most beneficial for health, however, we don’t advise using food alone to treat diseases. Please consult with your doctor or health professional about which foods are suitable for your body or health issues.
What Does The Research Say?
The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Snow Fungus.
2021 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Polysaccharides from tremella fuciformis can attenuate ulcerative colitis.
The purpose of this paper was to explore the therapeutic effect and underlying mechanism of Tremella fuciformis polysaccharides (TFP) on ulcerative colitis (UC) based on dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced mice UC model and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated Caco-2 cells model. The results firstly indicated that TFP can significantly alleviate the symptoms and signs of the DSS-induced mice UC model, which manifests as improvement of body weight loss, increase of colon length, decrease of colon thickness and reduction of intestinal permeability. Then, results from histopathological and electron microscope analysis further implied that TFP could dramatically reduce inflammatory cells infiltration and restore intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. In addition, the experiments of LPS-stimulated Caco-2 cells model in vitro also further confirmed that TFP could markedly inhibit the expressions of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase related genes or proteins expressions of intestinal barrier and mucus barrier. Taken together, these data suggested that TFP has a significant therapeutic effect on DSS-induced UC model, and its mechanisms are closely linked to the inhibition of inflammation and the restoration of intestinal barrier and mucus barrier function. These beneficial effects may make TFP a promising drug to be used in alleviating UC.
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharides ameliorated ulcerative colitis via inhibiting inflammation and enhancing intestinal epithelial barrier function Xu Y, Xie L, Zhang Z, et al
2021 International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Tremella polysaccharide is a safe natural active ingredient, which can be used in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of diseases.
Tremella polysaccharide is a full-functioning active substance, and any of its activities are not independent, but complementary to other activities. For example, Tremella polysaccharides can participate in various physiological activities such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, inflammation and aging by regulating the expression of SIRT1 protein, which is in line with the guidelines of eastern medicine to maintain the dynamic balance of the human body through conditioning. Tremella polysaccharides are non-toxic and harmless natural ingredients that can be used for long-term contact with the human body by smearing or oral administration. It means that Tremella polysaccharides are suitable for the daily health needs of sub-healthy people and can be widely used in food, medicine and daily chemical products.
A review on the production, structure, bioactivities and applications of Tremella polysaccharides Ma, X., Yang, M., He, Y., Zhai, C., & Li, C.
2021 Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology
These results indicate that a certain concentration of snow fungus polysaccharides can effectively alleviate skin damage caused by UVA, and they may be used as an effective component of cosmetics.
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharides (TFPS) pretreatment can reduce the oxidative stress of UVA-treated human dermal fibroblasts cells. After TFPS pretreatment, the content of ROS and MDA in the cell decreased significantly and the total antioxidant activity was increased. Among them, the active of CAT, SOD, and GSH-Px in the cells increased significantly. TFPS can also protect fibroblasts by up-regulating Nrf2 and down-regulating Keap1 expression. Finally, it was also found that TFPS pretreatment increased the content of collagen I, elastin, and hyaluronic acid (HA) in skin fibroblasts treated with UVA.
Tremellafuciformis polysaccharides inhibit UVA-induced photodamage of human dermal fibroblast cells by activating up-regulating Nrf2/Keap1 pathways Fu H, You S, Zhao D, An Q, Zhang J, Wang C, Wang D, Li M.
The evidence from numerous studies proves sirtuin 1 significance in both chronological and premature aging as well as its dual role in cancer development.
The past few decades have witnessed rapidly growing interest in the topic of skin aging. Research advances in the field of molecular mechanisms involved in both intrinsic and extrinsic aging may translate into novel effective therapeutic antiaging interventions. SIRT1 regulates the proliferation and differentiation of the major cell types of the skin. It mediates antiaging effects through the target molecules, participating in the maintenance of genome stability, oxidative stress response, extracellular matrix turnover, and regulation of the cell cycle. The same mechanisms are involved in the skin carcinogenesis, however, SIRT1 may serve as tumor suppressor or oncogene, depending on the gene dosage and downstream pathways. Experimental studies support the conclusion that SIRT1 may prevent UVR-related premature aging and skin cancer development. Modulation of SIRT1 activity may constitute a novel approach to photoprotection, and hold a great potential for improving outcomes in patients with skin cancers. In addition, small interventional studies in humans demonstrated encouraging results of topical SIRT1 activators in reducing premature aging symptoms. Although SIRT1 has been extensively researched, further studies are needed to explore the topic of SIRT1 activity in terms of skin changes, induced by environmental pollutants, which help to exploit the full potential of this longevity protein.
Sirtuin 1 and Skin: Implications in Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aging-A Systematic Review Bielach-Bazyluk A, Zbroch E, Mysliwiec H, Rydzewska-Rosolowska A, Kakareko K, Flisiak I, Hryszko T.
2020 Amazonian Journal of Plant Research
The most important tremella mushroom benefits are anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, combat obesity, protect nerves and may fight cancer.
The most powerful nutritional constituents of Tremella are amino acids, vitamins, minerals, polysaccharides, Glucurmomannan 1,3-alpha-glucan, Epitope 9beta-D- glucuronosyl), Glucuronic acid, Glucurmic acid, Glucuronoxylomannan, N-acetylglucosamine, Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Alkaloids and Organic acids. Functional foods are making inroads into Chinese diets with their promises to improve health and nutrition. Chinese consumers should choose nutritional and healthy food to maintain general health and reduce the risk of health problems. Nutrition therapy on the basis of traditional Chinese medicine such tremella is quite effective at treating common diseases.
Chemical compounds and health benefits of Tremella, a valued mushroom as both cuisine and medicine in ancient China and modern era Mohamad Hesam Shahrajabian, Wenli Sun, Hong Shen and Qi Cheng
2017 Molecular Medicine Reports
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharide alleviated hydrogen peroxideâ€‘induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in skin fibroblasts via upregulation of SIRT1 expression, indicating that TFPS may act as a potential therapeutic agent for oxidativeâ€‘stressâ€‘associated skin diseases and aging.
We demonstrated that pretreatment with TFPS suppressed H2O2-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in skin fibroblasts in a concentration-dependent manner and possessed excellent antioxidative properties. Therefore, our present findings may provide a theoretical basis for TFPS as an alternative herbal food supplement and potential pharmacotherapy for skin injury and aging.
However, given that TFPS contains several polysaccharides and has a variety of pharmacological effects, our study, which focused on oxidative stress inhibition and anti-apoptotic effects, has limitations. Further studies are required to define the potential protective mechanisms of TFPS in H2O2-induced skin injury.
In summary, we revealed that TFPS exhibits protective properties against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis mainly by upregulating SIRT1 and promoting downstream signaling, suggesting that TFPS is a potential therapeutic agent for oxidative stress-related skin diseases and skin aging.
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharide suppresses hydrogen peroxide-triggered injury of human skin fibroblasts via upregulation of SIRT1 Shen T, Duan C, Chen B, Li M, Ruan Y, Xu D, Shi D, Yu D, Li J, Wang C.
Browse our collection of scientific research on Snow Fungus. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.
2021, Jun 1
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharides ameliorated ulcerative colitis via inhibiting inflammation and enhancing intestinal epithelial barrier function
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules
This is the first study to ascertain the underlying mechanism of snow fungus in colitis through multi-path analysis of gut microbiota and metabolites. This further suggest the importance of snow fungus in healing ulcerative colitis and reducing inflammations.
Xu Y, Xie L, Zhang Z, et al Full Article
2021, Apr 16
A review on the production, structure, bioactivities and applications of Tremella polysaccharides
International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Tremella polysaccharide is highly effective in moisturising, gelatinous, anti-inflammatory, promoting wound healing, neuroprotective effects and anti-cancer.
Ma, X., Yang, M., He, Y., Zhai, C., & Li, C. Full Article
2021, Apr 6
Sirtuin 1 and Skin: Implications in Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aging-A Systematic Review
The evidence from numerous studies proves sirtuin 1 significance in both chronological and premature aging as well as its dual role in cancer development. Several botanical compounds hold the potential to improve skin aging symptoms.
Bielach-Bazyluk A, Zbroch E, Mysliwiec H, Rydzewska-Rosolowska A, Kakareko K, Flisiak I, Hryszko T. Full Article
2021, Mar 9
Tremellafuciformis polysaccharides inhibit UVA-induced photodamage of human dermal fibroblast cells by activating up-regulating Nrf2/Keap1 pathways
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology
The study highlights the efficacy of snow fungus in alleviating skin damage caused by UVA. Hence it is an effective component of cosmetics in reducing the oxidative stress of UVA
Fu H, You S, Zhao D, An Q, Zhang J, Wang C, Wang D, Li M. Full Article
Chemical compounds and health benefits of Tremella, a valued mushroom as both cuisine and medicine in ancient China and modern era
Amazonian Journal of Plant Research
This study concluded that tremella, which is commonly found in Chinese Medicine and dietary lifestyle, has high therapeutic effects of immune boosting minerals and vitamins. It lowers blood sugar, repair neurological nerves, improve memory and promotes anti-aging agent.
Mohamad Hesam Shahrajabian, Wenli Sun, Hong Shen and Qi Cheng Full Article
2019, Apr 1
Tremella polysaccharide: The molecular mechanisms of its drug action
Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharide (TFPS) shows efficacy for all types of human diseases in the reported clinical studies. The structure, molecular mechanisms of the immunomodulation, antitumor, anti-oxidation, anti-aging, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, preclinical and clinical efficacy are discussed to provide a general picture of TFPS as a clinically used drug.
Yang D, Liu Y, Zhang L. Full Article
2018, Oct 15
High Levels of SIRT1 Expression as a Protective Mechanism Against Disease-Related Conditions
Frontiers in Endocrinology
Recent studies have shown that age-related diseases or endocrine system dysfunctions are associated with an increase in SIRT1 expression levels, but with a decrease in their activity. The oxidative stress produced during these processes may lead to compensatory or protective increase in the SIRT1 expression to deal with the decline of the SIRT1 activity.
Elibol Birsen, Kilic Ulkan Full Article
Tremella fuciformis polysaccharide suppresses hydrogen peroxide-triggered injury of human skin fibroblasts via upregulation of SIRT1
Molecular Medicine Reports
Snow fungus alleviated hydrogen peroxideâ€‘induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in skin fibroblasts via up-regulation of SIRT1 expression. This indicated that snow fungus may act as a potential therapeutic agent for oxidativeâ€‘stressâ€‘associated skin diseases and aging.
Shen T, Duan C, Chen B, Li M, Ruan Y, Xu D, Shi D, Yu D, Li J, Wang C. Full Article
2016, Oct 4
Antioxidant and immunostimulatory activities of polysaccharides extracted from Tremella aurantialba mycelia
Molecular Medicine Reports
Compared with CMCP, MCP demonstrated improved antioxidant properties. In addition, MCP induced RAW264.7 macrophage proliferation, NO production and secretion of tumor necrosis factorâ€‘Î±, interleukin (IL)â€‘1 and ILâ€‘6. These findings suggest that the total carbohydrate content may contribute to the improvement of antioxidant and immunostimulatory activities of MCP.
Deng C, Sun Y, Fu H, Zhang S, Chen J, Xu X. Full Article