Shiitake is a mushroom that grows naturally on decaying trees. It is mostly found in Japan, but is also produced in China, Canada, Singapore and the United States. This mushroom is low in calories, but offers a good amount of fibre, B vitamins and minerals. Shiitake also contains many of the same amino acids as is found in meat, as well as polysaccharides, terpenoids and lipids – which have effects on the immune system and cholesterol. It is considered a favourite in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, long used to boost overall health, relieve hunger and strengthen the immune system.
Boosts immune system
Shiitake has the ability to combat many diseases by providing important vitamins, minerals and enzymes to boost the immune system. One study found that after one month, people who took shiitake daily had found their immune markers to have improved and inflammation levels lowered. This effect may be due to a polysaccharide called ‘lentinan’ found in shiitake mushrooms.
Another study of mice found that a shiitake supplement helped to reverse some age-related decline in immune function.
May support heart health
These mushrooms contain three compounds – eritadenine, sterols and beta glucans – that help lower cholesterol. Eritadenine is a compound that restrains an enzyme that is involved in producing cholesterol, sterols are molecules that help stop the absorption of cholesterol in the gut and beta glucans is a type of fibre that can lower cholesterol.
Research into rats with high blood pressure showed that an increase in blood pressure was prevented by a supplement of shiitake powder, and another study found that of rats fed a high-fat diet, those given shiitake produced less fat in their livers, less plaque on their artery walls and lower cholesterol compared to those that didn’t consume any mushrooms.
According to legend, a man called Wu San-Kwung was the first to cultivate shiitake in China, around 1000 years ago. He was testing his axe on a log that shiitake was growing on, making several cuts in the wood before leaving. The next day he returned to find that more shiitake had grown in the cuts he had made with his axe previously. He continued to test this theory, becoming the pioneer of cultivated shiitake, until one day he came across a log that would not fruit. In frustration, he began beating and throwing the log around, when he returned a few days later he found that this long to be totally covered in the mushroom – he had unintentionally discovered the ‘soak and beat’ cultivation method that is still used today.
Shiitake can be consumed raw, cooked or as a supplement. We suggest taking 1 to 2g of our Organic Shiitake extract per day, or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.