Tremella: The Anti-aging Mushroom for Healthy, Glowing Skin
Everyone is looking for the fountain of youth, but despite heroic expeditions and diligent longevity studies, it remains elusive. Could the secret be hiding in the otherworldly Tremella fuciformis?
Tremella mushroom, also called snow fungus or snow mushroom, won’t make you live forever—but it is known for its amazing skincare properties. Tremella’s beauty benefits were noted in China as early as the first century, and modern Chinese scientists have extensively researched the mushroom’s antiaging capabilities.
With the power to combat some of the main factors in skin aging, this jellyfish-like fungus might just be the prize that youth seekers have been after all these years.
Why is the Snow Mushroom Good for Skin?
Skin is under stress every day—it’s impossible to avoid. External and internal factors create free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress and lead to cell damage. While sun exposure is the most common skin stressor, cells also make free radicals during normal metabolism. Even lifestyle choices, like what you eat and how much you exercise, can contribute to oxidative stress and increase potential damage to your skin.
Your body is equipped with natural antioxidants and immune processes to handle oxidative stress and repair or replace skin cells. But these processes become less efficient as you age. As oxidative damage compounds over time, you begin to see signs of aging like dryness, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity.
Aging also changes your skin’s underlying framework. Collagen, the protein that makes up basic skin structure, breaks down faster than it gets replaced. Elastin degrades, which makes skin less stretchy.
The number of oil and sweat glands also declines, leading to a loss of natural moisture.
Tremella mushroom and hyaluronic acid
Another big skin change worth noting is a loss of hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a glycosaminoglycan, also known as a GAG, a molecule that hydrates skin and other tissues. Collagen traps GAGs to hold moisture in your skin and keep it supple. And HA can retain a lot of water: up to 1,000 times its weight!
The amount of HA in the epidermis, your skin’s outer layer, reduces over time. This may be due to increased binding in the dermis, your skin’s second layer. With less HA available, skin becomes drier and less supple.
So where does tremella come in? It turns out that the snow mushroom contains a compound called glucuronic acid, a building block of hyaluronic acid that’s also pretty amazing for skin hydration. Some skincare products now contain tremella as an alternative to HA because glucuronic acid molecules are smaller and can penetrate skin more easily.
Snow Mushroom Anti-Aging Science
In addition to helping skin retain moisture, tremella has also been shown to:*
- Even out skin tone
- Improve skin flexibility
- Protect skin against damage
- Accelerate wound healing
These benefits are more than just mushroom lore. Tremella contains a range of polysaccharides: chains of sugar molecules with protective properties. Researchers have studied oral and topical treatment with tremella mushroom extract to uncover how these polysaccharides may exert their power.
May fight inflammation*
Skin cells called dermal fibroblasts play a key role in skin production and repair. Treating these cells with snow mushroom extract may protect them from damage by increasing natural antioxidant activity and mediating processes involved in oxidative stress and inflammation.*
Pre-treating skin cells before exposing them to oxidative stress also appears to inhibit inflammatory activity by decreasing free radical production, toning down immune responses, and reducing proinflammatory compounds called cytokines.*
May repair and improve collagen*
Taking an oral tremella supplement may reduce collagen loss and repair collagen breakdown.* In one study, fermented tremella polysaccharides prompted an increase in collagen and elastin production.* Since collagen and elastin decrease with age, tremella holds promise for minimizing structural changes and maintaining stronger, healthier skin.
Can naturally moisturize skin*
Snow mushrooms can hold hundreds of times their weight in water thanks to the glucuronic acid in the mushroom’s primary polysaccharide, glucuronoxylomannan. This may be why studies show that taking tremella supplements or using snow mushroom extract topically can reduce water loss, increase natural moisture, and promote water molecule exchange between cells.*
How to Use Snow Mushroom for Skin Health
You can take advantage of Tremella fuciformis skincare in two ways:
- Topical preparations containing tremella extract
- Tremella mushroom supplements (pills, powders, or tinctures)
Although studies on the snow mushroom’s skin benefits haven’t focused much on oral supplements, its general antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may prevent oxidative damage that can cause skin aging.* A dose of 1 gram to 3 grams per day is recommended for general health..
You can also eat tremella mushrooms. The jelly-like texture and mildly sweet flavor add a unique flair to meals. You won’t get as many polysaccharides from snow fungus soup as you will from an extract, but this unusual mushroom is still worth trying if you can find one at a local specialty store. That may be as far as you have to go on your own “fountain of youth” expedition!
6. Martin Powell, “Tremella Fuciformis (Snow Fungus),” in Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide (Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK: Mycology Press, an imprint of Bamboo Publishing Ltd., 2014), pp. 96-98.