Wood Ear Mushrooms are rich in B complex vitamins and many other bio-active compounds such as polysaccharides that improve heart function. According to a study published in “Mycobiology”, it helps to keep cholesterol levels in check and decreased the atherogenic index by 40 percent. This is a measure used to predict the risk of heart disease and plaque build-up in the arteries.1
In a study published in "Thrombosis and Haemostasis", researchers investigated the adenosine content of Wood Ear Mushrooms. Adenosine is a chemical by-product from cellular metabolism in the body, and effects blood clotting, blood pressure and heart health. Researchers confirmed that a single gram of the dried mushroom contain 154 mcg of adenosine, in addition to other unidentified chemicals which contribute to Wood Ear's ability to inhibit blood clotting and block platelet aggregation.
The polysaccharides in Wood Ear Mushrooms have also been found to have an action on coagulation, platelet aggregation which could be beneficial to thrombosis. Mannose, glucose, glucuronic acid and xylose have been found to inhibit platelet aggregation and blood clotting.2
This can help to improve circulation and may prevent heart attacks, strokes and arterial damage that can lead to heart disease.
The Wood Ear Mushroom is exceptionally antioxidant rich. Its antioxidant activity has been found to be beneficial in preventing the development of degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. A 2013 study published in the “International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms” found that consumption of raw or cooked Wood Ear Mushrooms could protect the brain against these two debilitating conditions.3
Additionally, a 2019 study that was published in the “Journal of Food Science and Technology” found that boiling the mushrooms can further enhance their antioxidant activity.
β-glucan exopolysaccharides obtained from Wood Ear Mushrooms have immunostimulatory properties. They enhance the activity of phagocytes - immune cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, bacteria, and dead or dying cells.
Furthermore, a 2015 study published in the “International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms” found that the Wood Ear Mushroom was effective at blocking the growth of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, two types of bacteria that can cause infections in humans.4
Wood Ear Mushrooms are rich in pre-biotic fibres in the form of beta glucans. These are indigestible fibres that promote the growth of good bacteria (probiotics), in the microbiome. Prebiotic foods are immensely supportive to digestive health, improve metabolic health and can help to boost the immune system.
They are also rich in dietary fibre, with around 71 percent being insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre remains undigested until the final section of the large intestine. Recent studies have shown that this fibre can be metabolised by bacteria in the colon to produce large amounts of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) – acetic, propionic and butyric acid predominately. These SCFAs provide fuel for the cells that line the wall of the intestine which in turn aid digestive health and can lower the risk of colon problems.
Folklore and history
In Asia, Wood Ear Mushrooms are known as Yung ngo, Kikurage, Mokurage, and Aragekikurage. The Chinese call it "Hei mu-er” and consider this mushroom to be both edible and medicinal as it has been used since the Tang dynasty from 618 - 907 BCE. In China, Wood Ear mushrooms are added to dishes to help improve breathing, sore throats, to reduce colds and fevers, to enhance well-being and to boost circulation.
The second part of its scientific name (Auricularia auricula-judae), is based on the myth that that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an old tree that had a Wood Ear Mushroom growing on it. This explains the common name "Judas's Ear" that later become corrupted as "Jew's Ear" or "Jelly Ear". Another theory is that the name "Judas's Ear" comes from the legend that Auricularia formed its ear-shaped fruiting body as a curse on the tree that Judas hanged himself after his betrayal of Jesus.
Wood Ear mushrooms have been a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. This species of mushroom has a tough, gelatinous, elastic texture when fresh and the outer surface is a bright reddish brown with a purplish hint, often covered in tiny, grey downy hairs and unsurprisingly it bears an uncanny resemblance to an ear!
Also extensively used in Asian cuisine, the Wood Ear Mushroom has crisp texture and mild woody flavour making it a delicious addition to stir fries, soups and salads.
Wood Ear Mushroom Capsules
Take 2-6 capsules a day, before food or as directed by your healthcare professional.
Wood Ear Mushrooms contain: amino acids, fibre, copper, pantothenic acid, selenium, riboflavin, thiamin, magnesium, zinc, folate, manganese, beta glucans, proteoglycans, polysaccharides and heteropolysaccharides.
Do not consume Wood Ear Mushroom if you are taking blood thinners. Please consult your healthcare practitioner if you are taking any prescription medication.