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Auricularia polytricha - Healthy arteries and veins

January 10, 2022
Dr. Dorothee Bös et al.

Auricularia polytricha is a valuable vital mushroom, which is highly valued especially for its blood-thinning effect. It was already used in traditional Chinese medicine for blockages in the vessels. Also, its positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract and mucous membranes make it very popular in alternative medicine.

In German, the vital mushroom is known under the names Judasohr or Holunderschwamm. The German Society for Mycology named it the “Mushroom of the Year 2017” in part because of its health-promoting effects.

History and mycology

What is Auricularia?

When we speak of Auricularia here, we mean the vital mushroom “Auricularia polytricha”. This is a well-known medicinal mushroom that has been used for over 2600 years by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to alleviate various ailments. The mushroom, native to Asia, has close relatives worldwide, such as the “Auricularia auricula”. In Europe, you will usually encounter the “Auricularia auricula-judae”. All the mentioned mushrooms belong to the family of ear lobe mushrooms, are very similar in appearance and have similar valuable ingredients for human health, which are increasingly being researched by scientists worldwide.

One medicinal mushroom - dozens of names

In German, Auricularia is better known as “Judasohr”. It owes this name on the one hand to its ear-shaped appearance and on the other hand to a small legend: It is said that the apostle Judas, after betraying Jesus, hanged himself from an elder tree. On this tree later grew the ear-shaped fungus. In fact, elderberry is the preferred tree of Auricularia. That is why he hears names like “elder mushroom” or “elderberry sponge”. Other titles refer more to its shape, such as “earlobe mushroom,” “cloud ear,” “lilac ear,” or “tree ear.” In English, Auricularia has been given similarly descriptive names such as “black woody ear”, “tree ear”, or “black fungus”.

In China, where Auricularia has been cultivated since 600 BC, it is called “Mu-Err”. Dried Auricularia mushrooms intakeMany Europeans also know it from the menu of Chinese restaurants. Because of its frequent use in Chinese dishes – most notably soups – it has become known in the Western world as the “Chinese morel.” At this point we would like to briefly note that dried Auricularia from China, which was cooked for hours in a soup, no longer has particularly many health-promoting ingredients. In fact, the concentration of ingredients depends greatly on the method of cultivation, the drying process and processing. At temperatures above 40° Celsius, many important substances in the fungus are lost.

Incidentally, in Europe there are first references to the use of Auricularia from the 18th century. The naturalist Carl von Linné, for example, mentions it in a book from 1753. A. Lonitzer points out the various healing powers of Auricularia in his medical work “Kreuderbuch” a short time later.

How does Auricularia grow?

The Judas ear is basically found all over the world. However, it is most common in temperate, subtropical regions such as Europe or North America. The fungus is extremely robust to a wide range of climatic conditions. Thus, it tolerates heat as well as frost. That is why you can come across the Auricularia all year round, even in winter under a blanket of snow. Despite everything, autumn is his favorite season, when he grows best. As already mentioned, Auricularia thrives particularly well on elderberry trees. But you can also find it on birch, copper beech, walnut and elm trees. It prefers old or already dead specimens. When it feeds on the wood of a living tree, experts call it a (weak) parasite. When dead wood is used as a food source, they refer to it as a saprophyte. By the way, most vital mushrooms grow on wood, which is the reason for some of their special health-promoting ingredients. The color of Auricularia varies from olive gray to reddish brown to red. Since the vital mushroom grows directly on the tree, its stem is not more pronounced. Instead, a shell- or ear-shaped fruiting body protrudes from the tree trunk. While its diameter can vary from three to 15 centimeters, it is only half a centimeter to two centimeters thick. The fruiting body is tough, gelatinous and slightly transparent. The surface is described as finely felted. When it rains, the Judas ear absorbs copious amounts of water, causing it to swell to an enormous size. However, when it is harvested and dried whole, it shrinks to one-tenth of its original size and becomes quite hard.

Healthy ingredients of Auricularia

Like all edible mushrooms, the Judas ear is an extremely healthy food. The low fat content combined with high fiber and protein content should be emphasized here. Dietary fiber also includes polysaccharides, to which many different health-promoting effects of medicinal mushrooms can be attributed. Beta-glucans in particular play a significant role in this context. Among other things, they positively influence the metabolism in the organism and strengthen the immune system. In addition, Judas ear is also rich in glycoproteins, which have a similarly extensive spectrum of activity as the polysaccharides. In terms of protein content, it should be emphasized that vital mushrooms always have all the essential amino acids. These are the amino acids that the body cannot produce itself. However, they are indispensable for various bodily functions. Actually for communication and self-defense, the Auricularia also forms certain lectins. For humans, they have high health benefits and are believed to be involved in the blood thinning effect of this vital mushroom, among other things. Physicians are also particularly interested in special biopolymers found in Judas ear. To these substances they attribute its lowering effects on blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides. For these reasons, these biopolymers are also considered benefactors of the liver. In addition to the substances already mentioned, vitamins and minerals are naturally present in the mushroom. The B vitamins, which are otherwise found in such a high concentration almost only in animal products, should be emphasized here. The Auricularia is especially rich in B vitamins. It also has smaller amounts of vitamin C and ergosterol, a precursor of vitamin D. In relatively large quantities are also the minerals magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium, silicon and phosphorus, and iron.

The Judas ear mushroom in the kitchen

While the Judas ear is very popular in Asian cuisine, its use in Western kitchens is not particularly widespread. A bowl of an Asian dish with Mu-Err mushrooms - on a rustic wooden board with chopsticks next to itWhen prepared, it is slippery, slightly gristly and has virtually no flavor of its own. Nevertheless, Asians really like this texture in soups and sauces. In addition, the Auricularia has the property to absorb the aroma that surrounds it. In Europe you can rarely find it fresh to buy. Most often it is offered in dried form.

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What does the Auricularia do?

Although Judas ear has been used in Asia for much longer to treat various health problems, it has been known as a remedy in Europe for over two centuries. Yet its value to us today is greater than ever before: its ingredients can provide relief precisely for ailments that we group together under “diseases of civilization”. These include, above all, those complaints that are related to lack of exercise and unhealthy diet.

Probably also for this reason, science shows a conspicuous growing interest in Auricularia. Thus, in the medical database Pubmed from the years 1929 to 2006, there are only just under 200 scientific articles on this particular medicinal mushroom. In the last 15 years, however, a good 400 articles have been added. In Google-Scholar, the scientific search platform of Google, even 42,000 hits appear for the search term “Auricularia”. So there is no denying that modern science is increasingly turning to time-honored natural remedies as well. Possible areas of application range from heart, abdominal and tooth pain to eye inflammation and wound healing. Some of the health problems for which the Judas Ear has proven its worth, we would like to present to you here in a little more detail.

Weiße Anführungszeichen in dunkelblauem Kreis
W. H.

"As a preventive measure, I have been taking an aspirin every day for years. For some time now, however, I have been getting stomach pains from it more and more frequently. Now my doctor told me that this is the side effect from this tablet. Since I have been taking Auricularia, the stomach pains are gone. My risk of thrombosis has also been banished, and yet I have no problems with blood clotting when I injure myself."

The "blood thinner" among the medicinal mushrooms

Due to its ability to improve blood flow, Auricularia is one of the most important medicinal mushrooms in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, especially heart attacks, strokes and thromboses.3-D illustration of clogged, narrowed arteries As a natural blood thinner, it effectively improves the flow properties of the blood. Among other things, the adenosine contained in the mushroom is involved in this effect. It provides dilation of blood vessels and thus increases blood circulation throughout the body. In addition, the lectins and beta-glucans from Auricularia support the flow of blood. Because of this effect, taking Auricularia capsules over a longer period of time can even reduce high blood pressure and circulatory disorders and arteriosclerosis. In addition, it has a preventive effect against cerebral ischemia, commonly called cerebral infarction or stroke. The risk of suffering one can be significantly reduced by using Auricularia.

Protection for the brain and other cells

Circulatory disorders can affect all organs and cell health. In people with these problems, the cells in the brain, eyes and of course the rest of the body benefit from a better supply of oxygen and nutrients when Auricularia is taken. For the brain, this means above all a lower risk of vascular dementia. This form of dementia is caused, among other things, by a lack of oxygen and reduced removal of waste products in the brain, usually due to acutely poor blood circulation. This can be caused, for example, by a stroke. Judas ear also counteracts this because it can reduce platelet aggregation and fibrin clot formation. After all, a stroke is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain. This blockage may be caused by thrombosis, i.e. a clumping of platelets. By counteracting the process of clumping, the vital mushroom automatically reduces the likelihood of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Migraines, tinnitus and other ailments

The circulation-enhancing and inflammation-reducing effect is also helpful for extremely unpleasant conditions such as migraines, varicose veins and tinnitus. Preventive use is also recommended before long flights and in cases of prolonged lack of exercise, such as bedriddenness. The Judas ear is also able to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the so-called “shop window disease” (Claudicatio intermittens). The cause of this disease is occlusion of peripheral vessels in the legs. Because of this bottleneck, the legs do not receive sufficient blood flow during exertion, resulting in pain. As Auricularia strengthens the vessels and increases blood circulation, the symptoms decrease.

Remedy for bleeding

It may sound paradoxical at first, but Auricularia also inhibits unwanted bleeding in some cases. Although it is generally considered a vital mushroom that helps blood flow better, TCM has used it since ancient times for blood in the urine, bleeding hemorrhoids and uterine bleeding. The fact that it also shows the desired effects here is due to the general property of vital mushrooms to often have a balancing effect. That is, they bring the system back into a natural balance. In doing so, they tackle too much as well as too little.

Natural remedies for diet-related health risks

We often put a strain on our bodies by eating unhealthy foods. In this context, simple carbohydrates such as glucose-fructose syrup or sugar, fat (especially animal) and stimulants such as alcohol represent an unnecessary burden for our organism. Long-term consequences include elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome with fatty liver and hypertension. While the Judas Ear can never replace a healthy lifestyle, it does help the body cope better with an unfavorable diet. For example, it lowers blood cholesterol levels. Together with its blood-thinning property, it also reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis. In studies, scientists have demonstrated that Auricularia’s ability to lower blood sugar levels, as well as triglycerides in the blood, has a direct effect on the weight of the subjects. For this purpose, they regularly gave women with polycystic ovary syndrome powder from the dried mushroom. This improved not only the metabolic values, but also the hormonal situation. Thanks to its dietary fiber, the vital mushroom can also reduce the burden of cholesterol and triglycerides on the liver. Since the liver is an important organ for digestion and detoxification, its well-being is directly related to our overall health. Therefore, it is also considered very positive that the phenols, triterpenes, polysaccharides and peptides from the Auricularia polytricha care for and protect the liver.

Positive effect on mucous membranes and intestines

The Judas ear has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Practical experience has shown that it especially relieves inflammation in the area of the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. In alternative medicine, it is therefore often used in connection with menopausal symptoms and hormonal changes, as these upheavals favor dry mucous membranes. The intestines also benefit from the positive effects of Judas ear on the mucous membranes of the small and large intestines.Close up of woman with belly top - in front of belly she holds note with laughing smiley face In addition, the vital mushroom strengthens the good intestinal bacteria. Studies have demonstrated its prebiotic effect when taken over a long period of time. In addition, researchers found in a study of mice that Judas ear may protect against inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Scientists attribute this effect primarily to beta-1,3 glycosides. Auricularia also has the potential to relieve constipation and provide good bowel movements.

Support of the immune system

Like all other medicinal mushrooms, the Judas ear has a positive effect on our immune system. Experts prefer to describe this effect as immunomodulating, since on the one hand the immune system is strengthened, but on the other hand excessive reactions are equally intercepted. Overreactions are present, for example, in autoimmune diseases and allergies. Auricularia has also demonstrated antimicrobial activity in scientific studies. Thus, in the laboratory, certain proteins from the vital mushroom showed an inhibitory effect on the multiplication of pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and the yeast Candida albicans. The scientists therefore also assume that the organism is supported in the fight against these pathogens.

Oxidative stress in the form of free radicals always means a burden on health and a risk for sometimes serious diseases. That is why the antioxidant properties of Judas ear should be mentioned here. Research shows that it promotes the body’s antioxidants and reduces oxidative stress. In one study, for example, an artificial aging process was provoked in mice. In the group that received Judas ear for 35 days, oxidative stress was significantly lower than in the comparison group without the vital mushroom. The researchers found lower levels of malondialdehyde and higher levels of superoxide dismutase and glutathione.

Auricularia against cancer

Medical research in this field is still in its infancy, but initial results give us hope that the Judas ear will be a strong ally in alternative medicine for the treatment of cancer in the future. Thus, an inhibition of the growth of at least five different tumor cell lines by the vital mushroom could already be observed. In general, it can be said that metastasis by the blood route can be impeded by substances that inhibit platelets and fibrin – Auricularia has these inhibitory properties.

Great hopes are pinned on Judas ear in the fight against liver carcinomas. These are particularly dangerous because they are usually detected late and the chances of recovery are relatively low, even after surgical removal. That is why it is extremely positive that Auricularia can induce apoptosis, i.e. the death of liver carcinoma cells.

Auricularia is also shown to be a great support in the treatment of cervical cancer. Thus, its polysaccharides are able to increase the efficiency of chemotherapy. At the same time, the antioxidants from the medicinal mushroom improve the patients’ defenses. Overall, taking the mushroom during conventional medical treatment of cervical cancer shows a better quality of life as well as higher survival rates for those affected.

Other areas of action from the experience of TCM

TCM has been gathering experience in the use of the vital mushroom Judas ear in connection with various ailments for over two millennia. Yin-Yang symbol in warm golden brown colorsIn contrast, modern research into its effects and impacts is still in its infancy. However, some traditional areas of application, such as mucosal inflammation, have already been confirmed and explained. That is why it is important to look at the other uses of Auricularia in TCM, as it is probably only a matter of time before they are confirmed in modern scientific studies. TCM continues to use Judas Ear for the following health problems:
  • Dryness of the mucous membranes: Auricularia moisturizes the mucous membranes, relieving congestion, dry cough, cystitis and ear, nose and throat disorders.
  • Stomach problems: The vital mushroom strengthens the stomach yin and thus provides relief from digestive problems.
  • Relief of cramps, numbness and pain in the limbs
  • Regeneration after accidents or injuries: The Judas Ear distributes and regulates the life energy Qi. This gives the body more strength to recover from injuries.

Auricularia use correctly

You have now received an overview of the health restrictions for which the Judas Ear can help you. Even though vital mushrooms are natural products, they should still be used and dosed professionally. Therefore, be sure to consult your doctor, alternative practitioner or mycotherapist before taking the product. Our experts will also be happy to advise you by telephone on the medicinal mushrooms suitable for you and their dosage. Since there are a variety of suppliers of vital mushrooms on the market, we would like to give you another short guide on what you should look for when buying.

How to grow Auricularia?

Judas ear has been cultivated and prepared for alternative medical purposes in Asia for thousands of years and in Europe for a few decades. As you learned at the beginning, this vital fungus feeds primarily on wood. Therefore, it can be grown very well on wood chips. Fresh auricularia mushrooms and growing medium in front of rustic wooden backgroundIts resistance to temperature fluctuations makes breeding relatively easy even in our latitudes. So you can easily find suppliers of Auricularia powder that guarantee cultivation in Germany. We recommend that you prefer mushrooms from German organic cultivation, as the guidelines in force here ensure the highest quality.

Which medicinal mushroom product should I take?

We do not recommend using dried Mu-Err mushrooms for alternative medical purposes. In principle, Chinese soups with this mushroom can be a healthy meal, but occasional consumption does not serve any therapeutic purpose. For this, you should rather take powder from whole, gently dried Auricularia daily. In addition to the origin from Germany, the cultivation according to organic standards is particularly important, since mushrooms generally absorb many toxins from their environment and thus pass them directly to the consumer. Also, make sure your supplier is transparent about how the powder is made. By the way, the safest way is to take mushroom powder, which comes in capsules. Indeed, the capsules protect it from environmental influences and thus guarantee a long shelf life. They are also practical, as they are easy to dispense.

For mushroom powders there are many suppliers

You will find trustworthy suppliers with controlled organic cultivation in Germany, but unfortunately also less recommendable importers of cheap goods. Read what is important when buying.


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Every person is unique!

Our experienced team will be happy to advise you in detail and free of charge on all matters relating to your health.

Scientific studies / sources

  • Nianzhe Y., Mao X.: “Icons of Medicinal Fungi from China”; CRC Press; 1989.
  • Hobbs, C.: “Medicinal Mushrooms”; Botanica Press, 1995.
  • Prof. Dr. med. Ivo Bianchi: “Modern Mycotherapy”; Hinckel Druck, 2008
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