In recent years, there has been something of an explosion in functional and medicinal mushroom use in supplements and beauty products.
Put it down to a combination of Covid, which has pushed personal wellness firmly forward on the agenda for many, and scientific insights into the many health benefits of fungi, and it’s no surprise more of us are jumping on the fungi bandwagon and reaping the rewards in terms of greater resilience, emotional balance and improved focus.
However, because of mushrooms’ multifunctional actions, their benefits don’t just stop at the inside! One mushroom in particular, Tremella fuciformis, aka Silver Ear mushroom, has exploded onto the beauty scene in recent years, in no small part spurred on by its popularity in the Korean beauty industry, aka ‘K-Beauty’.
From serums to ‘jellies’ and moisturisers, tremella is credited with improving the condition, hydration and texture of the skin, together with anti-ageing benefits for fine lines and age spots.
Historical Background of Tremella Mushrooms
Although tremella may be a beloved ingredient of Korea’s modern skincare industry, the use of this delicate fungus in beauty rituals goes back many centuries and was a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine and China’s cuisine. It was used in traditional herbal tonics to support the kidney ‘Jing’ essence, Qi energy and nourish the lungs, heart, brain and immune system.
Chinese women would historically have consumed this fungus both whole and in extract form to support a glowing complexion and soft, youthful skin. In fact one of the Tang dynasty’s imperial concubines reputedly put the secret of her famed beauty down to regular use of tremella.
Beauty benefits of Tremella
Reports are now being confirmed by modern clinical studies, which support the powerful beautifying benefits that have made tremella a staple of East and South-East Asian skincare regimes. This research demonstrates a wide variety of actions and specific compounds that make tremella a must-have nutraceutical in your beauty and wellness armoury, including:
- A special class of polysaccharides called glucuronoxylomannan
- Ability to stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid in the body
- Stimulates the production of an antioxidant called superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the brain and liver, helping to counter oxidative damage to skin cells
- Promotes 5 times as much moisture in the skin as hyaluronic acid
- Prevents degradation of the micro blood vessels that supply the skin
What is Tremella Mushroom?
Tremella is a delicate, translucent fungus that grows on the bark of deciduous trees in northerly forest regions. It can be found all over the world, preferring a wet and humid climate.
It is considered a member of the ‘jelly fungi’ family, giving it its unique appearance. However, unlike other members of this family, which aren’t known for their flavour (tasting a bit like soil), tremella is a culinary delicacy popular in soups, vegetable dishes and desserts. In English it goes by the nickname ‘Silver Ear’, ‘snow fungus’ or sometimes ‘white jelly fungus’.
Tremella is unusual in that originally it could only be wild harvested rather than cultivated on wood, like reishi, shiitake and other mushrooms. This is because technically tremella is a fungal parasite! These days tremella is grown by inoculating a substrate with both tremella species and another fungus called Hypoxylon archeri, which the tremella eats.
Tremella is rich in the complex polysaccharides called beta glucans (a type of fibre) shared by many of its fungi cousins; these are immune-modulating chains of starches that can support white blood cell activity and strengthen your adaptive immune system.
Tremella Mushroom and Skin Health
Tremella contains a specific polysaccharide called glucuronoxylomannan which has powerful anticoagulant properties as well as being anti-inflammatory, and can help to stimulate the micro blood vessels that support the skin. Great news for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as age-related skin issues such as fine lines and loss of elasticity.
In addition, tremella is prized for its hydration properties and is believed to be able to hold up to 500% percent more water than cosmetics favourite hyaluronic acid, which is the gold standard in the beauty industry for hydration.
Furthermore, because of its small, gelatinous particle size, it boasts an impressive ability to penetrate the skin and create a lasting moisture barrier that hydrates, smooths and plumps the skin.
Scientific Studies and Evidence
Clinical studies into tremella have demonstrated various skin health benefits that make this mushroom a must-have staple in your daily beauty regime:
- Skin anti-ageing
- Wound healing
- Barrier protection(1)
Because of its ability to stimulate one of the body’s key antioxidant enzymes, SOD, tremella extract has been found in clinical studies to protect against free-radical damage, which the skin is exposed to through ageing, poor diet, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption. It may also stimulate collagen synthesis and boost wound healing and skin damage from overexposure to UV rays(2). These actions make it an appealing choice for supporting skin tone, texture and fine lines and wrinkles.
It is important to note that most studies looking at tremella’s skin health benefits are based on in vitro and animal studies and are focused on an extract of the fungus rather than its whole food form. Future clinical research in its role in dermatology will no doubt reveal further insights.
How to Incorporate Tremella Mushrooms into Your Skincare Routine
You can choose two ways to get the benefits of tremella mushrooms into your daily routine. You can use tremella topically in the form of serums, moisturisers, toners and face masks, which are all widely available in the ‘K-beauty’ industry and beginning to catch on in Europe. But to get the full spectrum of benefits of Tremella mushroom you will need to take it internally in the form of an extract or whole mushroom supplement.
Oral Supplements: What to Look Out For
When buying a tremella mushroom supplement, you should choose the form that will most suit your needs.
- Powders mix well into hot drinks, smoothies, soups and recipes, and tend to be more economical. Check our Organic Tremella Powder!
- Capsules and tinctures offer more convenience but tend to be more expensive and you may get less mushroom per serving. Check our Organic Tremella Capsules!
- Extracts are more concentrated in beta-glucans than the whole-mushroom form. Tremella polysaccharides can be vulnerable to alcohol based extraction, so choose hot-water extraction where possible.
You also need to focus on the quality and purity of the supplement, including where and how it is grown. Choose organic where possible: fungi are the ‘clean-up operators’ of their environment, meaning they can absorb whatever contaminants exist in that environment, including pesticides and heavy metals.
- For anti-ageing benefits, take 1-2g whole mushroom powder or 500 mg-1g extract.
- Tremella can be taken with or without food and the dose can be spread out into two discrete doses for optimal absorption.
In conclusion, with the renaissance of functional mushrooms in the beauty and wellness space, there’s never been a better time to sample the benefits of Tremella fuciformis for yourself. These special ‘jelly’ mushrooms have been used for centuries in Chinese beauty rituals and natural skin remedies, and are still making ripples in skincare products today.
Tremella is packed with polysaccharides with functional properties for skin support, including anti-ageing, deeply hydrating and moisturising, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Moreover, given tremella’s superior moisture-boosting advantage over hyaluronic acid but at an impressive fifth of the cost, your wallet will be as happy as your skin!
Try the Tremella effect for yourself. Shop Mushrooms For Life Organic Tremella extract HERE.
1 - The Potential Cutaneous Benefits of Tremella Fuciformis. 2023. The potential cutaneous benefits of Tremella fuciformis - PubMed (nih.gov)
2 - A review on the production, structure, bioactivities and applications of Tremella polysaccharides. 2021. A review on the production, structure, bioactivities and applications of Tremella polysaccharides - PMC (nih.gov)