Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes)

Shiitake Mushroom: Medical Uses

Shiitake mushroom is used for candidiasis (yeast infections), colds, allergies, and heart disease.

Historical Uses

The most common edible mushroom in the world, the shiitake mushroom is also known as the black forest mushroom, the Chinese mushroom, and the king of mushrooms. In China, shiitake mushrooms have been eaten medicinally for centuries to boost the immune system.


Shiitake mushrooms grow in Japan on fallen shiia trees. This mushroom is native to China, Japan, and other parts of Asia, but not to the United States.

Parts Used

• Fruiting body

• Mycelium

Major Chemical Compounds

• Polysaccharides

Shiitake Mushroom: Clinical Uses

Shiitake mushroom is used for candidiasis, colds, allergies, and heart disease. It is active against lung cancer and melanoma, and it has hypolipi-demic and antithrombotic effects.

Mechanism of Action

This mushroom increases the production and ability of natural killer cells and macrophages to destroy tumor cells. Polysaccharides bind to specialized receptor sites on macrophages and natural killer cells, thereby sending out chemical signals to fight off infection.

Shiitake Mushroom: Dosage

Fresh mushrooms: 3 to 4 mushrooms daily.

Capsules: 400 mg taken 1 to 5 times daily.

Tincture: One dropperful 2 to 3 times daily.

Vitamin C may help in the absorption of polysaccharides.

Side Effects

Shiitake mushroom may cause skin rash or stomach upset.


• Ingestion of more than 4 grams of shiitake powder daily for 10 weeks may cause eosinophilia.

• Do not give shiitake mushroom to patients with eosinophilia (Natural Medicine, 2000).

Herb-Drug Interactions

None are known.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

No restrictions are known.

Summary of Studies

Limited clinical research on humans is available.

Chang (1996). In this review, edible mushrooms such as shiitake mushrooms were found to contain functional “nutraceutical” or medicinal properties that benefit the immune system, lower lipids, and have antitumor properties without toxic effecs.


• Shiitake mushrooms may cause skin rash and stomach upset.

• Ingestion of more than 4 grams of shiitake powder daily for 10 weeks may cause serious side effects. Talk to your health-care practitioner if you have a blood disorder.

• Shiitake mushroom is safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women when consumed in food amounts.

Shiitake Mushroom: Recipes

Buy fresh or dried mushrooms and add them to soups, stir-fries, or side dishes. Soak dried mushrooms in water for a few hours or overnight before adding them to food.

Shiitake Mushrooms And Brown Rice

Start the brown rice before you start the mushrooms. (Although brown rice takes a little longer than white rice [about 45 minutes], it is well worth the wait because it has more vitamins, minerals, and flavor). Add fresh or rehydrated shiitake mushrooms (whole or sliced) to a saute pan to which you’ve also added olive oil. Add a few onions and garlic, and then add the cooked rice.

Medicinal Mushroom Soup

Make a soup out of 50 grams of fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, vegetables, grains, and beans. This combination offers a wonderful way to boost the immune system and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Infection Buster

Add 1 to 3 shiitake mushrooms per person (including children) to stir-fries, vegetables, or chicken soup to help ward off winter illnesses.