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Tremella Mushroom Benefits and Uses

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Tremella fuciformis mushrooms have a long history in East Asian culture, where they are popular for both their culinary value and nutritional content. They have numerous purported benefits for skin health, immunity, inflammation, cholesterol, and more.

Join us as we explore the current research on tremella mushrooms to find out how much truth is behind these claims.

What Are Tremella Mushrooms?

Tremella mushrooms have several alternative names, including snow fungus, silver ear mushroom, and white jelly mushroom.

In Japanese, they are known as shiro kikurage, meaning “white tree jellyfish,” which is a fitting description of their appearance. The word “tremella” itself derives from the Latin word tremere, meaning “to tremble,” another nod to this mushroom’s jelly-like form.


Tremella mushrooms grow on dead wood in tropical regions, and there are over 100 different species worldwide. Biologists first discovered tremella in Brazil, but East Asia is the region more typically associated with the fungus.

For example, in China, tremella is an extremely popular edible mushroom and is consumed for its texture and nutritional content. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, tremella promotes longevity, and it has been nicknamed “Fountain of Youth” since the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE).

Now, scientists around the world are becoming interested in tremella and its potential benefits.

Tremella Benefits

Tremella mushrooms are a valuable source of protein and dietary fiber while being low in calories and fat. They also contain various vitamins and minerals, flavonoids, and polyphenols.

However, carbohydrate molecules called polysaccharides are responsible for many of the best-studied tremella mushroom benefits. According to a 2020 review, some of the biological effects of tremella include:

  • Supporting the immune system
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Regulating blood glucose and cholesterol levels
  • Improving memory and learning
  • Promoting liver health
  • Benefiting digestion
  • Supporting weight loss

However, most of the existing evidence is based on laboratory studies rather than large-scale clinical trials. Therefore, it is unclear how well these benefits translate to humans, aside from a few key areas, which we will discuss below.

Tremella Mushroom Skin Care Benefits

One of tremella’s most famous historical uses is as a beauty enhancer. According to one legend, an imperial concubine named Yang Guifei, who is considered one of the most beautiful women in Chinese history, regularly consumed the mushroom to maintain her appearance.

In modern-day China, people still add tremella to soups and desserts intended to preserve youth and nourish the complexion. Furthermore, mushroom cosmetics are becoming increasingly popular, and tremella is a common ingredient.

There is some promising evidence to support this use of tremella mushrooms. For example, research has shown that they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could improve overall skin health.

The mushrooms also contain compounds that appear to inhibit melanin formation, potentially reducing the appearance of dark spots when applied topically.

A 2017 study showed that tremella mushrooms have a protective effect on collagen-producing cells called fibroblasts. Collagen is the protein that keeps skin soft and elastic, and its production tends to decrease with age.

More clinical trials on Tremella fuciformis for skin health are needed, but the current evidence suggests there could be some benefits.

Tremella Mushrooms’ Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Studies have also shown that tremella mushrooms have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

For example, a 2021 study found that high doses of tremella reduced colon inflammation in mice. The mushrooms also appeared to influence the animals’ intestinal microbiota, the population of beneficial microorganisms inhabiting the gut. Therefore, tremella could potentially improve digestive health, including reducing inflammation in conditions like colitis.

It seems that tremella polysaccharides are the key compounds responsible for these effects. They reduce inflammation by influencing immune cells known as macrophages, inhibiting pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, and reducing oxidative stress.

Therefore, tremella could be helpful in the management of various inflammatory conditions. However, further research is necessary to understand how effective these mushrooms are for humans.

Tremella Mushrooms for Immune Support

Tremella mushrooms’ high polysaccharide content means that they are also useful for supporting immune function.

A 2018 study showed that tremella polysaccharides improved immunity in mice with cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression.

Cyclophosphamide is a chemotherapy drug with numerous side effects, including reduced immunity and potential liver and spleen damage. The aforementioned research suggested that tremella polysaccharides could potentially decrease the severity of these issues.

A 2021 study showed that tremella polysaccharides could also benefit general immune function by improving non-specific, humoral, and cellular immunity. It appears that the compounds can activate several types of immune cells, including macrophages, T-lymphocytes, and B-lymphocytes.

The 2021 publication also states that tremella polysaccharides are already clinically approved in China, where doctors use them to treat low white blood cell counts associated with chemotherapy and hepatitis. They are also used as an ingredient in some wound dressings to promote faster healing.

Tremella and Cholesterol

There is also some evidence suggesting tremella mushrooms can help to reduce cholesterol. In fact, research suggests that several mushroom species could provide similar benefits.

In a 1996 study, rats were fed a high-cholesterol diet for four weeks. Some of the animals were also given either tremella or wood ear (Auricularia auricula) fungus.


The results showed that both mushrooms reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels significantly. However, they did not produce significant changes in other measures, such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, liver cholesterol, or total lipids.

These findings are in agreement with a 2002 study investigating tremella’s effects on lipid metabolism in rats. The rats were fed a diet containing 1g of cholesterol per 100g of feed, alongside various doses of tremella dietary fiber. Some of the animals were also treated with a chemical called nebacitin, which is known to influence lipid metabolism.

The results showed that tremella fiber reduced LDL cholesterol, total liver cholesterol, and triglycerides, with or without nebacitin. However, the nebacitin produced more notable reductions in cholesterol.

It has been suggested that tremella’s cholesterol-reducing effects may be due to its beneficial impact on gut health. However, further study is required.

How to Use Tremella Mushrooms

You can find dried tremella mushrooms for sale online and in many Asian supermarkets. They are typically added to soups or congee or simmered with various dried fruits and spices to create an unusual dessert. Alternatively, you can rehydrate the mushrooms and add them to stir-fries or Asian-inspired salads.

You will also find tremella as an ingredient in many different mushroom supplements and mushroom-based cosmetic products.

The Health Benefits of Tremella Mushrooms: Final Thoughts

Far more research is necessary before we fully understand how tremella mushrooms’ benefits apply to humans. However, the existing evidence from laboratory studies is promising. It suggests that tremella mushrooms contain numerous active compounds and are highly nutritious, making them a great addition to a healthy diet.

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Published on: January 22, 2024

Lynn Marie Morski

Reviewed by Lynn Marie Morski, MD, JD, who is a president of the Psychedelic Medicine Association and host of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast. She sits on the advisory boards of Psychedelics Today, Cybin, VETS, Inc (Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions), the Oxenberg Foundation, and the Ketamine Task Force. Dr. Morski is also a Mayo Clinic-trained physician in family medicine and sports medicine, as well as an attorney and former adjunct law professor.

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