Shiitake mushrooms are not only delicious, they are a powerhouse of diseases-fighting nutrients. The medicinal properties of shiitake mushrooms have been studied since the Ming Dynasty (1369–1644) when Japanese elders considered the shiitake the “elixir of the life”. Their use has a long history in Asian folklore for healing an extensive list of ailments. As research verifies the medicinal and gastronomic qualities of shiitake, it’s recently gained popularity in the West for its nutritional and medicinal value.
These mushrooms are particularly sought after because of their rich nutrient content, which consists of significant levels of several types of B vitamins, phosphorus, manganese and zinc, as well as vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and potassium. This is in addition to dietary fiber and a number of powerful antioxidants including alkaloids, phenols and diterpenoids. Experts recommend adding shiitake mushrooms to as many meals as possible to maximize your intake of these uniquely beneficial fungi.
Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, which strengthens our immune system, helping to fight off diseases and infections. The American Cancer Society says lentinan is believed to stop or slow tumor growth, too, though it notes that more clinical trials are needed to understand the mushrooms’ effectiveness.
In some countries, lentinan is used as an intravenous anti-cancer drug with anti-tumor properties. Clinical studies have associated lentinan with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life and lower recurrence of cancer.
Shiitake has been licensed by the Japanese FDA as a leading prescription for cancer treatments and Shiitake extracts are used in a wide variety of herbal remedies.
Shiitake mushrooms also contain a compound called D-Eritadenine (DEA). DEA helps lower cholesterol and supports cardiovascular health.
Shiitake has many health benefits, such as it’s ability to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. It possesses powerful antioxidant properties that help the body fight the damage of free radicals. It is also known to reduce inflammation.
Shiitakes are a good source of iron and antioxidants. The iron is key for vegetarians, whose diets may be lacking in it, while antioxidants help reduce free radicals.
Shiitake Health Benefits:
Strengthen the immune system
Lower blood pressure
Fight viral infections
Improve liver function
Fight free radicals as an antioxidant
Help cure liver diseases
Fight off colds and flu
Combat viral infections
Induce weight loss
Cure respiratory diseases
Treat poor blood circulation
Cure weakness and prevent exhaustion
In general, Shiitake, and any of its extracts, have little to no side-effects. In addition, there appear to be no negative effects from incorporating Shitake extracts into existing health regimens as it seems to work well with other drugs, herbs and treatments. However, people with fungal allergies have occasionally developed throat, skin. nose or lung irritation.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or mitigate any disease. Always consult with your health care provider before making any medical decisions.