Snow Fungus 银耳 in TCM
Snow fungus in TCM has many names: snow ear fungus, silver ear fungus, white wood ear, white tremella mushroom. And as the names tell, it is a type of fungus also belonging to the mushroom family. It is commonly found throughout Asia and in warmer climates worldwide. The fungus gets the common name of wood ear for the way it looks on the decaying logs on which it grows. Good-quality snow fungus has a pale, yellowish-white colour and a mucilage-like texture. Chinese and Japanese herbalists have used snow fungus for more than 2,000 years, primarily to increase fluids in the body, for dry coughs, and for anti-inflammatory effects. It has been used as a tonic herb and as a beauty enhancer to improve the complexion. Its collagen content is comparable to bird’s nest. Hence, it’s also why white fungus is dubbed as the ‘poor man’s bird nest’.
Snow fungus has been prized for its medicinal benefits, namely anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor. Snow fungus helps to tonify the spleen and increases appetite, also nourishes yin and lungs, healing dry coughs and clearing heat in the lungs. It may help enhance immune system in cancer patients. Snow fungus helps to nourish the body, lungs and stomach, it also helps with physical weakness after recovery from illness, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
White fungus is very versatile, can be cooked in sweet soups or savoury soups.
White fungus is commonly sold in its dried form. So before using, it has to be soaked, trimmed and washed thoroughly before used. Cover the dried white fungus with enough water (at least 3 to 4 times of its size). Depending on the variety, you shall see it double in size in 30-45 minutes and turn from yellowish-white to semi-transparent.
But its bottom or the stem part will remain firm even after soaked. Trim this part out with a pair of scissors. After the hard bottom is trimmed away, just tear the fungus into small pieces. Then wash thoroughly and drain dry. Then, the white fungus is ready for cooking.
5 Key Benefits of Snow Fungus
- Snow fungus is especially beneficial for its skin beautifying properties. It has been used for thousands of years by royalty for TCM beauty purposes. It is a rich source of vitamins & collagen, it has superior water-retention properties compared with Hyaluronic acid. The particles are smaller than hyaluronic acid so it penetrates the skin more easily. It draws moisture & nourishes the skin. It stimulates skin renewal and even inhibits melanin production to reduce pigmentation and wrinkles formation. It also makes you even more beautiful by replenishing the collagen that we need to make our skin nice and bouncy. It also contains plant collagen that helps to keep the skin hydrated and youthful. 白木耳富有天然植物性胶质，对皮肤有良好保护作用。银耳富有养颜护肤的功效,含有天然植物性胶质, 能刺激皮肤新陈代谢,增强皮肤的抗损伤能力,长期服用可以润肤，保湿的护肤功效并有祛除脸部黄褐斑、雀斑, 消除皱纹的功效。
- Snow fungus improves the body’s immune system because it contains polysaccharides and glycans that help to transform cells. It turns the bad cells into good cells, thus your body’s immune system is better able to fight against anything that comes your way. Some lab tests or studies have shown snow fungus having anti-tumor properties where it increases our natural germ fighting cells and increases the effectiveness of antibodies. 白木耳还能增强肿瘤患者对放疗、化疗的耐受力。因富含硒等微量元素，它能增强人体的免疫力，调动淋巴细胞，加强白细胞的吞噬能力，兴奋骨髓造血功能；银耳多糖具有抗肿瘤作用。
- Snow fungus helps to control the bacteria inside your intestines, which basically helps the good bacteria to fight off the bad bacteria and at the same time it also helps with constipation due to its good water retention properties which means you have less chance of getting stomach aches and pains. 白木耳含有大量水分，吸水后体积膨大十倍，具有很好的通便作用。
- Snow fungus contains dietary fibers that helps to lower cholesterol in the foods that we eat but also control the sugar & fat absorption. It basically acts like a filter for your body, preventing the absorption of sugar & fats achieving a slimmer healthier body. 白木耳中的膳食纤维可助胃肠蠕动，减少脂肪吸收，从而达到减肥的效果。
- Last but not least, it helps in liver detoxification. It is not only good for your liver but it also helps to prevent you from having any liver related illness. At the same time the high concentration of vitamin D in snow fungus will help your body replenish the calcium that we lose on a daily basis. 白木耳能提高肝脏解毒能力，起保肝作用. 白木耳富含维生素D，能防止钙的流失.
Get a simple recipe for snow fungus soup here.
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