Shiitake is the second most widely cultivated mushroom, after the common
button mushroom. It combines an excellent nutritional profile and exceptional
culinary properties with significant health benefits and is the source
of Lentinan, a polysaccharide extract licensed in Japan for use in the
treatment of stomach cancer.
Like other mushrooms, fresh Shiitake can be a useful source of vitamin D2, providing it is exposed to sunlight or UV light either before or after harvesting.
Although traditionally used principally as a culinary mushroom, Shiitake’s anti-cancer properties have been extensively researched in Japan since the 1960s.
Cancer– Lentinan has been shown to offer a significant advantage over
chemotherapy alone in terms of survival for patients with advanced gastric
cancer, with additional trials reporting increased survival, reduced chemotherapy-related
side effects and improved quality of life in patients with: colorectal,
liver, breast and metastatic prostate cancer
Although clinical trials with Shiitake have almost exclusively used Lentinan delivered by injection, recent research indicates that it is also orally bioavailable 4.
Cholesterol control– Shiitake’s eritadenine content makes it a useful dietary supplement for those seeking to control their cholesterol levels, with two small-scale clinical studies reporting decreases in total cholesterol and triglycerides from consumption of Shiitake (9g/day dried in one and 90g/day fresh in another) 1.
Because eritadenine’s cholesterol lowering action differs from that of
prescription statins, or natural sources of statins such as Red Yeast Rice
(Monascus purpureus), Shiitake can be a particularly useful dietary supplement
for those already taking statins or for whom they are unsuitable due to
the level of side-effects.
Anti-viral– As with other mushrooms rich in immunologically active polysaccharides, Shiitake’s ability to strengthen immune function helps improve immune response to a range of viral conditions, including:
As well as Lentinan and other polysaccharides, Shiitake produces a number of anti-microbial compounds, including eritadenine, which has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels 1.
Health benefits have been obtained taking up to 9 grams of dried powder a day in clinical trials to lower cholesterol.
Because eritadenine’s cholesterol lowering action differs from that of prescription statins, or natural sources of statins such as Red Yeast Rice (Monascus purpureus), Shiitake can be a particularly useful dietary supplement for those already taking statins or for whom they are unsuitable due to the level of side-effects.
Seek advice of your healthcare practitioner if you are already taking statin medication and wish to lower your statin intake.
1. Efficacy of S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase inhibitors, D-eritadenine
and (S)-DHPA, against the growth of Cryptosporidium parvum in vitro. Čtrnáctá
V, Fritzler JM, Šurinová M, Hrdý I, Zhu G, and Stejskal F. Exp Parasitol.
2010 October; 126(2): 113–116.
2. Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) Wasser SP. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, 2nd Ed. Pub. Informa Healthcare. 2010; p.719-726.
3. Individual patient based meta-analysis of lentinan for unresectable/recurrent gastric cancer. Oba K, Kobayashi M, Matsui T, Kodera Y, Sakamoto J. Anticancer Res. 2009;29(7):2739-45.
4. The medicinal benefits of Lentinan (β-1, 3-D glucan) from Lentinus edodes (Berk.) singer (Shiitake Mushroom) through oral administration. Yap A.T, Ng M.H. Int J Med Mushr. 2005;7(12):170.