Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake Mushroom
Monograph: Shiitake Mushroom

Botanical Scientific Names: Lentinus Edodes, Lentinula Edodes

Common Names: Shiitake, Golden Oak Mushroom, Oakwood Mushroom, Black Forest Mushroom, Black Mushroom, Chinese Mushroom, Fragrant Mushroom, Donku, Pasania, Hed Hom

Chinese Names: Xiang Gu, Shiangu-Gu, Shiang Ku, Shanku, Dongo

Japanese Names: Kanji, Hiragana


The Shiitake mushroom is commonly found in many kitchens and is considered a delicacy due to its unique taste.  Shiitake is sold either in its dried form or fresh and it takes second place as the most popular consumed mushroom in the world.

The name SHIITAKE can be divided into two parts:  The first part, SHII, comes from the name of the tree Castanopsis Cuspidate, which supplies tree logs on which the mushrooms grow in a cultivated manner.  The second part, TAKE, means “mushroom” in Japanese.  The Latin name LENTINUS can also be divided into two parts:  The first part, LENT, means “flexible”, and INUS means “similar”.  In other words, this strain of mushroom resembles something elastic that can be easily bent.  The meaning of EDODES in Latin is “edible”.

The use of Shiitake in Eastern nations has been widespread for thousands of years as a central ingredient in the kitchen, but also as a means for healing.  According to the theories of ancient Chinese medicine, consumption of the Shiitake mushroom is recommended for everyone who wishes to live a long and healthy life.

One of the original employments of the mushroom dates back to 199 BC.  A Japanese tribe then first bestowed the mushroom to the Japanese Caesar as a gift due to its prestigious taste.

Chinese Doctor Wu Juei, who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was one of the first people to discover that the mushroom could be used for healing physical ailments and not just as food. It could help in treating upper respiratory sicknesses, poor blood flow, problems with liver function, exhaustion and weakness, as well as improvement of the Qi (life energy), and in the prevention of early aging.  Pursuant to him, other Chinese doctors began to dispense prescriptions for the mushroom to treat liver disorders, faulty nutrition, irregular women’s periods, and sexual disfunction.

Shiitake grows naturally on fallen trees or on decaying tree trunks in a warm moist climate.  Japanese scientists were the first to cultivate the mushroom as long ago as 600 years, by inserting caps which look like pencils of the mushroom’s mycelium in pinholes and dents that were created in the trunks of Oak trees.  Today the mushroom is cultivated for food in South East Asia and in many other countries in the world.

Following the traditional use of the Shiitake mushroom, and the scientific knowledge that has been gained by studying it, a medicine called Lentinan was registered in Japan in 1985.  It was based on the polysaccharide derived from the mushroom and applied as a drug for treating stomach cancer.  In studies conducted on this drug, a decrease in cancerous cell growth was observed in cell cultures.  Lentinan was also found to boost the production of white blood cells in the immune system and encouraged the production of cancer antibodies in various types of cancerous cells.  Clinical research demonstrated the effectiveness of giving Lentinan in combination with chemotherapy in treating cancer and found that patients survived longer with fewer side effects from the chemotherapy, such as neutropenia (decrease in type neutrophils white blood cell count).

Parts of the mushroom for use:

All parts of the mushroom:

Fruiting Body

Route of Administration:


TCM Characteristics:

Temperature: Neutral

Humidity: Neutral

Taste: sweet, salty, smoked

Meridians: spleen, stomach, liver

Bioactive Ingredients:


Lignin-1→3 (JLS-18)
Mannopeptide KS-2
Polysaccharide-protein complex LE
α-(1→3)-D-glucan L-II











Terpenes – Diterpenoids:

copalic acid

Phenolic Compounds:

gallic acid
protocatechuic acid
syringic acid
vanillic acid
p-coumaric acid
ferulic acid





Organic Sulfuric Compounds:

Issoclinotoxin A93,B94
Benzopentathiepin 101


Vitamins from the B-complex family, especially B1, B2, B12, Biotin
Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)



Fatty Acids:

Oleic acid
Linoleic acid
Linolenic acid
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
Palmitic acid
Palmitoleic acid
Lignoceric acid
Stearic acid
Myristic acid
Pantadecanoic acid

Amino Acids:

Cysteic acid
Aspartic acid
Glutamic acid

Unique Proteins:

Lentinamycin A,B

Studied Activities:

Adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory (balances immune system), anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic, hypolipidemic, hypotensive (balances blood pressure), improving peripheral blood flow, hepatoprotective (restoring and protection of the liver), antiplatelet, cavity prevention, antiaging, and prebiotic.

Uses supported by clinical research:

Weakened immune system, cancer, aids, hyperlipidemia (excess of blood lipids), atherosclerosis, hypertension, viral and bacterial infections, candida, liver disease (hepatitis C), fatty liver, excessive blood coagulation, and cavities.

Traditional uses that have yet to be supported by clinical evidence:

Antiaging, cardiovascular diseases (heart and blood vessel diseases), and tinnitus.

Effects according to Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Strengthens and nourishes in cases of deficiency, fortifies the spleen and the liver, and regulates appetite.

External release and gentle sweating, improves the external protection from colds, boosts the protective Qi (Wei Qi) with gentle sweating, drains moisture and eliminates toxins, and gently enhances the Qi.

Nourishes and strengthens the digestive system.

Promotes and encourages the production of blood and assists in cases of anemia.

Manners of use and recommended dosage according to the literature:

Liquid extract (tincture): at a concentration of 1:3, 45% alcohol, 3-6 mg per day.

Dry extract: standardized extract 3:1 at a concentration of 30% polysaccharides, 150-600 mg per day.

Decoction: 2-5 grams per day.

As part of a formula: 30-40%

Safety, toxicity, interactions, and side effects:

The Shiitake mushroom is safe for use.

People allergic to mushrooms should avoid eating the mushroom or consuming the mushroom as a food supplement.

Due to its immunostimulant activity, transplant patients should not consume the mushroom.

Seven days before undergoing a surgical procedure, the use of the mushroom should be discontinued and may be resumed two days following the procedure.

The mushroom has been found to exhibit activity that causes antiplatelet aggregation in the sulfuric compound Lenthionine; therefore, it is recommended to be cautious when consuming a high dosage of the mushroom while taking blood thinners, such as from the Coumadin, Clexane, Xarelto, Eliquis, Pradaxa and Lixiana families.

With the exception of forbidding pregnant women who receive blood thinners such as Clexane to use the mushroom, there is lack of data to support the safety of use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Stop use if hypersensitivity/allergy occurs.


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