Snow Fungus for Supple Skin, Strong Bones, and Digestive Health

TCM physician suggests 2 ways to prepare it to slow aging and boost immunity

Snow Fungus for Supple Skin, Strong Bones, and Digestive Health
Snow fungus is known as the "commoner’s bird's nest" and can beautify the skin, counter aging, and enhance immunity. (Hello RF Zcool/Shutterstock)
Naiwen Hu

Snow fungus (Tremella funciformis), also known as white fungus, is a common edible fungus used by nobles and royalty throughout the ages for its health and beauty benefits.

Research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2022 mentioned that polysaccharides isolated from white fungus have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging effects.
Compared with expensive ginseng and edible bird's nest, a delicacy in Asia, snow fungus is known as the "commoner's bird's nest" because it's cheap. Rich in nutrients and smooth in texture, both children and adults find it appealing. This episode of "Dr. Hu's Talks" will share snow fungus' marvelous effects and the traditional ways to prepare it.

1. Rich in Colloid and Calcium

Snow fungus contains abundant plant-based natural gum, which can help the body absorb, retain, and replenish calcium, working wonders for bone strengthening. Eating snow fungus can enhance children's growth, keep young people's bones strong and tendons elastic, prevent osteoporosis and degenerative arthritis in older people, and repair joint cartilage.

2. Moisturizes the Lungs and Suppresses Cough

The lungs are part of our body's protective barrier against bacterial and viral invaders, while the mouth and nose act as the first line of defense to stop them from invading the lungs. In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly made us more aware of pulmonary health. If the lungs are damaged or their function hindered, one line of defense is down, which may lead to sequelae such as coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

According to the Five Elements theory, the theoretical basis of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the five colors—green, red, yellow, white, and black—correspond to the five internal organs: liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys. Snow fungus is white, corresponding to white and the lungs. Therefore, it moistens the lungs and promotes body fluids, maintaining lung and respiratory health and enhancing immunity.

According to a 2023 study published in the International Journal of Oncology, Tremella funciformis polysaccharide is a natural macromolecular compound known for whitening skin and regulating blood lipids and immunity.

3. 'Vegan Bird’s Nest' for Beauty and Anti-Aging

Snow fungus also has a tremendous effect on the skin. According to legend, the Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty drank a bowl of white fungus soup every morning from adolescence to old age. Perhaps this was one of the secrets to her youthful appearance throughout her lifetime.

Snow fungus is rich in plant-based natural colloids, which can moisturize skin, fade freckles, and delay aging. Considered a "vegan's bird's nest," it is an excellent colloid supplement for vegans and will make the skin look supple.

A study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology in 2021 also showed that Tremella funciformis polysaccharides can act as natural moisturizers, relieve skin dehydration, repair the skin barrier, and keep the skin healthy.

4. Maintains Digestive Tract Health and Promotes Bowel Motility

According to a 2021 study in the Frontiers in Immunology, snow fungus' polysaccharide content has multiple health benefits. Studies have found that snow fungus polysaccharides can significantly increase the biodiversity of intestinal composition, and large doses of them can prevent colon shrinkage and reduce colon tissue damage in colitis mice.

So snow fungus is not only good for the lungs and skin but also maintains the health of the digestive tract. It contains water-soluble dietary fiber, promoting gastrointestinal motility and preventing constipation. Snow fungus can be perfect for older people with bad teeth or who cannot chew hard vegetables because it will supplement fiber, strengthen tendons and bones, and protect teeth.

Its high fiber content also makes it helpful for pregnant women and children with constipation problems.

Dietary Therapy 1: Snow Fungus, Lily, and Lotus Seed Soup for Beauty and Tranquility

Mankind has searched for natural skin brighteners for centuries, and snow fungus may do just that. A 2022 study showed it can inhibit melanin production and promote in vitro wound healing, demonstrating its potential as a novel skin-lightening agent.

If you want a bright complexion and the added benefits of a tranquil mind, then snow fungus, lily, and lotus seed soup is a suitable dessert. Apart from its remarkable ability to moisten the lungs, quench thirst, and beautify and nourish the skin, it can also calm the mind, relieve stress, and promote sleep. It primarily benefits people with loose and sallow skin, anxiety, and insomnia.

Snow fungus, lily, and lotus seed soup. (Romix Image/Shutterstock)
Snow fungus, lily, and lotus seed soup. (Romix Image/Shutterstock)


Lily can soothe the nerves and combat depression. Eating it regularly can relieve symptoms such as minor ailments or insomnia.
  • 1/4 piece snow fungus
  • 10 grams (0.4 ounce) lilies (fresh or dried; add a bit more if using fresh)
  • 20 grams (0.8 ounce) lotus seeds
  • 6 red dates
  • 10 grams (0.4 ounce) wolfberries
  • About 8 pieces of rock sugar
Yield: 1 serving


  1. Soak the white fungus for about one hour. Limit the soaking time to under six hours so as not to lose nutrients or breed bacteria.
  2. Soak dried lily in water for about one hour. Skip this step if using fresh lily.
  3. Tear the soaked white fungus into small pieces (the smaller, the better), or break it up in a food processor. Put it in a pot, add water, and boil. The water-to-snow fungus ratio is about 5:1. Next, add the lotus seeds.
  4. After cooking on high heat for 10 minutes, start stirring for about 15 seconds, then turn to medium-low heat and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring continuously to get the gelatin out.
  5. Add the red dates, lily, and rock sugar and cook for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add wolfberries one minute before serving.
You can drink this soup as an afternoon "tea" or keep it in the fridge to eat cold later. Both ways are healthy, nutritious, and refreshing.

How to Get the Most Collagen From Snow Fungus

Cooking snow fungus into a thick soup is the key to getting it to release enough collagen. The secret is to stir continuously during the cooking process. Only after the snow fungus is thick can you get the entirety of its polysaccharides. This will provide more calcium, which boosts its bone-strengthening and beauty benefits.

Dietary Therapy 2: Snow Fungus and Yam Porridge for Stomach and Skin Nourishment

TCM believes that eating porridge in the morning is good for the body. If you are in a hurry in the morning but want to eat healthily, snow fungus yam porridge is a good choice. You can cook this porridge automatically with an electric rice cooker and have hot porridge ready when you wake up. This porridge can replenish energy, nourish the stomach, and beautify the skin.
Snow fungus and yam porridge. (Yuda Chen/Shutterstock)
Snow fungus and yam porridge. (Yuda Chen/Shutterstock)
Both yam and snow fungus can beautify the skin, nourish the stomach, and promote intestinal health.


  • 1/4 snow fungus piece
  • 1/2 cup round glutinous rice
  • 100 grams (4 ounces) yam
  • 10 red dates


  1. Soak the snow fungus in water for one hour.
  2. Wash the round glutinous rice and soak it in water for half an hour.
  3. Peel the yam and cut it into small pieces.
  4. Wash the red dates or remove the pits.
  5. Put all the ingredients into an electric rice cooker pot. Add 1.5 cups of water, and set the program for automatic cooking. Serve after the cycle is finished.

How to Select High-Quality Snow Fungus, Poor-Quality Can Be Harmful

High-quality snow fungus is good for your health, but poor-quality ones are harmful. So how do you distinguish the good from the bad?

1. Appearance

Choose dry, large white or light yellowish ones. The root should have little or no pedicles. Avoid ones that look too bright white, as they may have been bleached.

2. Smell

Some snow fungus might smell a little pungent or sour. This may be the smell of residual sulfur dioxide or hydrogen peroxide. Avoid snow fungus with a peculiar smell.

Who Should Eat Snow Fungus With Caution?

Snow fungus is cold in nature, so people with a cold constitution, such as those prone to diarrhea and have cold hands and feet, are advised to eat it under the strict guidance of a physician.

TCM finds that most foods can be classified as cold or hot in nature. Eating cold foods will increase the cooling effect, while eating hot foods will increase the warming effect on the body. Therefore, you can balance your body by regulating the appropriate amount of each kind of food.

In addition, snow fungus has an anticoagulant effect, so it is not recommended for people with anemia or who bleed easily.

Naiwen Hu is a traditional Chinese medicine physician at the Shanghai Tong Te Tang in Taipei, Taiwan, and a professor at the Nine Star University of Health Sciences in Sunnyvale, California. He also worked as a researcher of life science at the Standford Research Institute. In his over 20 years of practice, he has treated more than 140,000 patients. He was known for successfully curing the fifth melanoma patient in the world by using traditional Chinese medicine. Hu currently hosts a YouTube health program that has over 700,000 subscribers. He is also known for his popular road show on health and wellness held in various cities in Australia and North America.
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