70 g (2.46 oz)
Dried wood ear fungus (Auricularia spp.)
Recommended Intake: Steep the wood ears for approximately 1 hour, rinse it with water and chop it into pieces. Add to any type of (Hungarian) dish, eg. chicken paprika or letcho.
Wood ears (Auricularia spp.) live on tree trunks and can be harvested all year long, though it is the most prolific during spring. Dried wood ears contain high amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and fibre. It has a significant calcium, phosphorus, and iron content. It is an important source of natural iron for the body. Due to it's polysaccharide components, it supports the immune system as well.
Auricularia fruiting bodies as medicine
[Largely adapted from Hobbs, Christopher, 1996. Medicinal Mushrooms: an exploration of tradition, healing, and culture. Botanica Press, Santa Cruz, CA and from Benjamin, Denis R. 1995. Mushrooms: poisons and panaceas. W.H. Freeman and Company, NY. ]
Besides its culinary value, Auricularia also has significant medicinal properties and has been used for many centuries in traditional herbal remedies. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, a theory popular in Europe in the 1800's, plants and fungi resembling certain parts of the body could be used to treat ailment of that part of the body. Since the fungus resembles the folds of the throat, Auricularia boiled in beer, milk, or vinegar was used to treat throat ailments. Because its gelatinous consistency could bind eye medicine, it was also often used as a salve to treat eye ailments.
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.
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