Shiitake Mushrooms

Common names: Japanese mushroom, Black Forest mushroom, Golden Oak mushroom, Oakwood mushroom

Scientific names: Lentinusedodes, Lentinulaedodes


Shiitake mushrooms have partially convex, brown caps which ranging from between five to ten cm in diameter. They are belonging to the basidiomycete fungi family. Its common name, “Shiitake,” comes from the Japanese language, with “Shii” referring to wood belonging to the Pasania species of tree on which they naturally grow.

Health Benefits

Shiitake are widely referred to as “medicinal mushrooms” due to their long history of medical use, predominantly oriental remedy traditions. It’s imperative to differentiate, however, between extracts and medicines prepared from these mushrooms and their presence as whole foods in a daily diet. There are hundreds of lab and animal studies that clearly document the medicinal properties of Shiitake mushroom extracts. As important as these studies are in a medical context, they still differ from studies that examine Shiitake mushroom as a common and favourite food.

Contrasting to the abundance of medicinal study surrounding Shiitake mushrooms, there are limited studies on Shiitake mushrooms in the human diet. Among dietary studies which do exist, however, there is a resounding lesson on Shiitake mushrooms: they can offer us some excellent health benefits.

Immune Support

A health benefit most recognised as a result of Shiitake mushrooms than immune support. Numerous studies show the capability of whole Shiitake mushrooms to support prevention of unnecessary immune system activity. Conversely, an equal number of studies show an ability of Shiitake mushrooms to help stimulate immune system response under particular circumstances. Therefore, from a dietary perspective, Shiitake mushrooms look as if capable of improving immune function in either direction, giving a boost when required, as well as cutting back on its activity when required.

Shiitake mushrooms also have a beneficial effect on immune cells called macrophages. Among many essential activities, macrophage cells are responsible for recognising and clearing potentially cancerous cells from the body. In order to carry out this undertaking, they are required to be “activated” in a specific way. Shiitake mushrooms help macrophage cells achieve this activated profile so they can do an improved job clearing possibly cancerous cells. This is referred to as “anti-cancer immunity” which is improved by Shiitake mushroom intake.There is also some evidence that Shiitake mushrooms’ polysaccharides can help lower total cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Benefits

The cardiovascular benefits of Shiitake mushrooms are recognised in cholesterol reduction. Another area of cardiovascular support involves the interaction between our cardiovascular system and our immune system. Recent research demonstrates that Shiitake mushrooms help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis), preventing too much immune cell binding to our blood vessel lining. Furthermore, a final area of cardiovascular benefit involves antioxidant support. Shiitake mushrooms contain key antioxidant minerals: manganese, selenium, and zinc. As well as containing some uncommon phytonutrient antioxidants.

A unique combination of antioxidants with their flexible support for the functioning of an immune system make Shiitake an instinctive option for supplying protection from various problems such as oxidative stress, immune function and rheumatoid arthritis.

Shiitake Mushrooms and Cancer

Shiitake mushrooms recommended by some to help in stopping the development and spreading of cancer and AIDS by boosting the body’s immune system. Recommenders suggest eating the cap and stem of the mushroom may be useful, but do not specify the amount to be eaten in order to take effect. Strength and benefits of the mushroom depend on how it is prepared and taken in.