Preventing Stroke, Atherosclerosis and Bypass

Black fungus
Auricularia polytricha

Also known as cloud ear, tree ear, wood fungus, mouse ear, and jelly mushroom. It grows rapidly on a variety of woods including mango and kapok and is very similar to another fungus called Jew’s ear (A. auricula). Some say the smaller cloud ear or mouse ear has a more delicate flavour than the larger wood ear.

It is mostly sold dried but is also available fresh. In its fresh form (or after the dried fungus has been reconstituted by soaking in water) it is easy to see how it derives its rather fanciful names. The frilly, brownish clumps of translucent tissue with a little imagination resemble the delicate curls of the human ear or billowing clouds.

Medicinal uses: Black fungus has a reputation in Chinese herbal medicine for increasing the fluidity of the blood and improving circulation. It is given to patients who suffer from atherosclerosis. Western medicine is now investigating centuries-old claims made by Eastern sages and finding them surprisingly accurate.

From Charmaine Solomon’s Encyclopedia of Asian Food, Periplus Editions,1998,supplied courtesy of New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd.

Cloud Ears and Wood Ears

Cloud ear – it’s a rather exotic sounding name for a type of fungus.   Also known as black fungus, tree ears, and jelly mushroom, this dried black fungus has been featured in Chinese cooking since the sixth century A.D. The Chinese name for name for cloud ear is mo-er, or "little ear" – as the photograph below illustrates, it does vaguely resemble a human ear when fresh. 

Like tofu, cloud ear – auricularia polytricha to use its scientific name – has no flavor of its own, but soaks in the flavors that it is cooked with. The delicate, crinkly fungus is also valued for its crunchy texture. You’ll often find cloud ear added to hot and sour soup, and it is also featured in stir-fried dishes.

Cloud ears are sold mainly in dried form, in plastic bags. If stored in an airtight container, they should keep for up to a year. Before using, soak the fungus in warm water for at least fifteen minutes. It will puff up to several times its normal size. Then rinse the fungus and trim the stem where it was attached to the wood of the tree (cloud ears grow on trees such as the mango and kapok). Once the cloud ears have been cut up into an appropriate shape and size, add them to a dish near the end of stir-frying, so that they do not lose their crunchy texture.

Although the two are often confused, wood ears are actually a distant relative of the cloud ear fungus. Larger and somewhat tougher, they lack the delicate taste of cloud ears. Storage and preparation of wood ears is virtually identical to cloud ears, except that they can be soaked in cold instead of warm water.  They are also used in soups and stir-fries.

White Fungus & Wooden Ear Soup

 This is a very soothing and nutritious soup which required very little ingredients such as either Lean Pork or Chicken Drumsticks together with some White Fungus, Wooden Ear and Red Dates. Due to the long hours of boiling, the texture of the soup will be sort of sticky rather than those normal clear soup. The texture is fragrant and refreshing due adding a few slices of ginger.

Wooden Ear( ): This contain much protein, carotene, vitamins A & B. It also improves blood circulation, benefits the spleen, moisturizes the lungs.

White Fungus( ): It tastes slightly sweet and of neutral nature. It benefits the spleen, strengthens the stomach and expel Dryness. It calms the spirit, treats insomnia and is good for the body type that resists beneficial food.

Red Date( ): It is a blood tonic which can be widely used with other ingredients to nourish the body.

This soup helps to prevent blood vessel blockage, reduce cholesterol level, reduce blood pressure, avoids stroke and arteriosclerosis. Other then that it also helps reduce spot appearance, cleanse and moisturize the skin.

2 Chicken Drumstick, removed skin
2 Pieces Of Wooden Ear( ), about 40g
1 Pieces Of White Fungus( ), about 10g
10 – 12 Red Dates( )
1 Tablespoon Ji Zi( )
3 Slices Ginger( )

1. Soak white fungus and wooden ear in water until soft.
2. Remove the stems, rinse well and tear into small pieces and scald then set aside.
3. Rinse and scald the chicken.
4. Crush the red dates with flat side of knife, remove the seeds and rinse well.
5. Boil 1.5 – 2 Litres of water to boil, then add in all the ingredients and boil for 10 minutes.
6. Transfer to a slow cooker and simmer on low heat for about 3 – 4 hours.
7. Season with salt and serve.

Notes: You can either used Chicken or Lean Pork for this recipe.

Auricularia auricula-judae and its cousin A. polytricha have been used as medicines for many centuries in China, particularly to cure hemorrhoids and strengthen the body, perhaps by stimulating the immune system. It was also sometimes used to treat such widely varying conditions as hemoptysis (spitting up blood), angina (cardiac pain), diarrhea, and warding against gastrointestinal upset.

"Modern" medicine has yielded other secrets from Auricularia. It has been shown to block blood clotting by obstructing the platelets. There have actually been cases of internal bleeding from particularly sensitive people who accidentally ate too much sweet and sour soup combined with stir-fry containing this fungus. There is some evidence that regular ingestion of Auricularia in small doses can be therapeutic in preventing strokes and heart attacks.

Other therapeutic uses of Auricularia from modern medicine include lowering blood cholesterol and triglycerides. There is even some evidence it can play a role in treating diabetes and cancer, and some studies claim it can reverse ageing by increasing SOD activity for DNA repair. However, due to the possibility of anti-fertility effects, this fungus is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, as well as those intending to conceive. There is also a report of a man who consumed over 250 grams of this fungus who developed a severe "solar dermatitis," making his skin very sensitive to sunlight. Although there is anecdotal information such as this, general side effects are not well documented or expected.

Leave a Reply