Shiitake Mushroom

Scientific Names:
Lentinus edodes (BERK.) Pegler [Fam. Polyporaceae]

Fresh and dried mushrooms (fruiting body and mycelium); standardized extracts containing lentinan and other polysaccharides.

Traditional Usage:
– Antibacterial

– Antifungal

– Antioxidant

– Antiviral

– Bone and Joint Conditions

– Bronchial Inflammation

– Cellular Regeneration

– ‘Chi’ (energy) Deficiency

– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

– Circulatory Disorders

– Cleansing

– Colds

– Detoxification

– Edema

– Energy

– Faintness

– Hepatitis

– High Cholesterol


– Immune Deficiency

– Immune System Health

– Infections

– Intestinal Worms

– Liver Health Maintenance

– Measles

– Mushroom Poisoning

Shiitake mushrooms, Lentinus edodes [Fam. Polyporaceae], are edible mushrooms valued by the Chinese for centuries for their immune stimulant properties. The active ingredients are polysaccharides, compounds now recognized for helping to strengthen the human immune system. Shiitake mushrooms are also used medicinally for treating people suffering from abnormal growths, chronic fatigue syndrome, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), high cholesterol, hepatitis and other liver diseases. According to McCaleb, Leigh and Morien in The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs, shiitake mushrooms were valued in China during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) for improving stamina, circulation and overall good health, and were also used for thousands of years for treating arthritis, elevated cholesterol, colds, childhood measles, bronchial inflammation, faintness, edema, intestinal worms, smallpox and mushroom poisoning. Dr. James Duke in the book, The Green Pharmacy, quotes studies on the significant cholesterol-lowering effects of shiitake, along with noting the mushroom’s anti-tumor, antiviral and immune stimulating properties. Dr. Duke also notes a study showing that skiitake extract helped protect mice against viral encephalitis. Studies done with male Swiss mice treated for 15 consecutive days with dried mushroom added to their normal diet at three different concentrations (1, 5 and 10%) showed that four different lineages of shiitake mushrooms had potent antimutagenic activity. Research has also identified a novel protein in shiitake mushrooms designated lentin that has potent antifungal activity; lentin inhibited mycelial growth in a variety of fungal species including Botrytis cinerea. Lentin also exerted an inhibitory activity on HIV-1 reverse transcriptase and proliferation of leukemia cells. Two different clinical trials, one on stomach and one on advanced pancreatic cancer showed that patients taking lentinan together with chemotherapy survived longer. Two different clinical trials of lentinan given to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected patients have also shown positive results for stimulating immune response (i.e. increased T-cell counts, etc.).

Active Ingredients:
Shiitake mushrooms contain: Polysaccharides including lentinan, a beta 1–>3 glucan, which has immune modulating properties; antibacterial compounds (e.g. lenthionine, lentinamycin, terpenoids, polyphenols); eritadenine; tyrosinase; sulfur compounds; a novel protein designated lentin with potent antifungal activity has also been isolated; lipids extracted from the shiitake mushroom contain dolichols composed of 15 up to 19 isoprene units with Dol-17 as the dominating prenologue. Additionally a family of polyprenols (alpha-unsaturated counterparts) with the same chain-length was also detected. Dolichols comprised approximately 0.002% of the fresh weight of the mushroom. Dolichols accompanied by traces of polyprenols are for the first time found in the mushroom tissue. [Wojtas M, Bienkowski T, Tateyama S, Sagami H, Chojnacki T, Danikiewicz W, Swiezewska E. 2004. Polyisoprenoid alcohols from the mushroom Lentinus edodes. Chem Phys Lipids. 2004 Jul; 130(2): 109-15.]

Suggested Amount:
Shiitake mushrooms can be eaten as a food with the recommended dosage of 3 to 4 mushrooms daily. Capsules are recommended with a dosage of 400mg taken 1 to 5 times daily. Tincture is recommended with the dosage of 1 dropperful taken two to three times daily. According to McCaleb, Leigh and Morien in The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs, Shiitake taken therapeutically against serious illnesses is recommended with a dosage ranging between 2 to 6 grams daily of Lentinus edodes Mycelium (LEM) given in two to three divided oral doses daily to start (for treating AIDS or chronic hepatitis). Once the disease has stabilized, this dosage may be reduced to 0.5 to 1.0g daily.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

None known.

Side Effects:
Occasional mild side effects have been noted for shiitake extract including skin rashes and stomach upset. During cultivation of shiitake mushrooms, the spores may also produce respiratory allergy symptoms in susceptible persons.


Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 318; 545-546. Rodale Press.

Gordon M, Bihari B, Goosby E, Gorter R, Greco M, Guralnik M, Mimura T, Rudinicki V, Wong R, Kaneko Y. 1998. A placebo-controlled trial of the immune modulator, lentinan, in HIV-positive patients: a phase I/II trial.

J Med. 1998; 29(5-6): 305-30.

McCaleb, R., Leigh, E. and K. Morien 2000. The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs. Your Complete Guide to the Leading Medicinal Plants. Published by Prima Health 3000 Lava Ridge Court, Roseville California 95661. Pp. 333-341.

Ngai PH, Ng TB. 2003. Lentin, a novel and potent antifungal protein from shitake mushroom with inhibitory effects on activity of human immunodeficiency virus-1 reverse transcriptase and proliferation of leukemia cells. Life Sci. 2003 Nov 14; 73(26): 3363-74.

Sneeden EY, Harris HH, Pickering IJ, Prince RC, Johnson S, Li X, Block E, George GN. 2004. The sulfur chemistry of shiitake mushroom. J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Jan 21; 126(2): 458-9.

Sugui MM, Alves de Lima PL, Delmanto RD, da Eira AF, Salvadori DM, Ribeiro LR. 2003. Antimutagenic effect of Lentinula edodes (BERK.) Pegler mushroom and possible variation among lineages. Food Chem Toxicol. 2003 Apr; 41(4): 555-60.

van Nevel CJ, Decuypere JA, Dierick N, Molly K. 2003. The influence of Lentinus edodes (Shiitake mushroom) preparations on bacteriological and morphological aspects of the small intestine in piglets. Arch Tierernahr. 2003 Dec; 57(6): 399-412