Snow fungus and lung immune function

18 Oct.,2022


Snow Pear

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
  • Constipation
  • 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.