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Herbs & Botanicals

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Tremella (bai mu er)

What is tremella? What is it used for?

Tremella is a type of mushroom that grows throughout China. It is known by a variety of colorful names, including "wood ear," because of its shape, and "witch's butter," because of its color and consistency. It usually grows on logs and some trees, has a yellowish-white color, and a rubberish, mucilaginous texture. Often used as a food source in China, tremella is also a vital component of many herbal remedies.

In traditional Chinese medicine, tremella is associated with the Lung and Stomach meridians, and has sweet and neutral properties. In China, tremella has been used to treat conditions such as coughs and heart palpitations. Tremella also helps stimulate the immune system, can lower blood cholesterol levels, and has been shown to have antitumor properties, which has led to its use in the treatment of some forms of cancer.

In addition to its medicinal uses, tremella is often taken by women to help improve the condition of their skin. It is considered a vital beauty supplement, and helps the skin to become soft and pliable.

How much tremella should I take?

The amount of tremella to be consumed depends on the condition being treated. Many practitioners will recommend 1-2 dropperfuls of a tremella extract, taken three to four times per day. Tremella can also be consumed as a food in much larger doses.

What forms of tremella are available?

Dried tremella can be found at some Asian markets and herbal shops. Typically, however, tremella is available as an extract.

What can happen if I take too much tremella? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As it is used as both a food and medicinal, tremella is considered extremely safe. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions or adverse side-effects associated with tremella. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking tremella or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Chang R. Functional properties of edible mushrooms. Nutr Rev November 1996;54(11 Pt 2):S91-3.
  • Cheng HH, Hou WC, Lu ML. Interactions of lipid metabolism and intestinal physiology with tremella fuciformis Berk edible mushroom in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet with or without Nebacitin. J Agric Food Chem December 4, 2002;50(25):7438-43.
  • Gao Q, Killie MK, Chen H, et al. Characterization and cytokine-stimulating activities of acidic heteroglycans from tremella fuciformis. Planta Med October 1997;63(5):457-60.
  • Gao QP, Jiang RZ, Chen HQ, et al. Characterization and cytokine stimulating activities of heteroglycans from tremella fuciformis. Planta Med August 1996;62(4):297-302.
  • Teeguarden R. Radiant Health: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs. New York: Warner Books, 1998, p. 251.

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