Shiitake mushrooms, native to China, have been enjoyed in the Orient for nearly 6000 years. Shiitake mushroom cultivation began in the mountains of central China in the 12th century. Early cultivators were able to plant spores on fallen trees and then logs to help nature produce a larger crop. These delicious mushrooms are now the second most popular cultivated mushroom in the world.
Currently the most popular edible mushroom in Japan, Shiitakes have been shown to have many health benefits (1). Compounds isolated from both Shiitake’s mycelium and fruiting bodies have demonstrated anti-viral (2), anti-fungal (3) and anti-viral (4) properties. Anti-tumor activity has been widely demonstrated in animals and humans (5,6,7).
Recent studies have traced some of this tree-loving mushroom’s healing benefits to an active compound called lentinan which powers up the immune system (8,9,10,11), strengthening its ability to fight infection and disease.
In one study, fifty-two healthy people, aged 21-41, consumed 5-10 grams of shiitakes a day and the findings stated that regular Shiitake consumption resulted in improved immunity (12). Another study showed that the addition of lentinan to standard chemotherapy seems to offer a significant advantage over chemotherapy alone in terms of survival for patients with advanced gastric cancer (13).
Mushrooms are one of the few food sources where the precursor to vitamin D occurs naturally so Shiitake mushrooms provide a valuable dose of Vitamin D. (14)
AHCC, a supplement made from Shiitake mushrooms, is the #1 alternative cancer treatment in Japan. In hundreds of clinical studies, this is shown to boost natural killer cell activity by as much as 300-800%! (15) Perhaps, the Japanese people are onto something here…truly Shiitakes rock!
My husband and I were reading The Wild Trees, by Richard Preston, a great book about the redwood trees, learning that one of the researchers traversing in these amazing trees popularized Shiitakes. In order to hang out (literally in the trees) and study these giant plants, one of the tree-lovers needed funding and personally created the market for Shiitakes.
Possible Medicinal Benefits of Shiitake:
- blood pressure
- blood sugar moderator
- cholesterol reducer
- immune enhancer
- kidney tonic
- liver tonic
- sexual potentiator
- stress reducer
When one considers that mushrooms can be produced on waste materials-converting products of little or no market value into food for an over-populated world-then there is no doubt that mushrooms represent one of the world’s greatest untapped resources of nutritious and palatable food for the future. — Professor S. T. Chang, Director of the Research Center for Food Protein at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Discontinue this mushroom if you experience a skin rash*. (*Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website)
© Mushroom Mama, 2015. All rights reserved.