Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) came to the forefront in the 1960’s when Japanese researchers uncovered two remote mountanous districts with abnormally low incidents of cancer. In these two districts growing shiitake mushrooms for culinary use was the main local industry and the delicious shiitake was part of their regular diet.
Shiiake is high in nutrition containing all the essential amino acids as well as a unique amino acid that is said to lower cholesterol. It is high in vitamin B1 and B2 and high in niacin and iron. Shiitake was highly regarded in Traditional Chinese Medicine and traditional used to treat high blood pressure, hign cholesterol, colds and flu. It was said to have been used in ancient Japan as an aphrodisiac by the royal court which is consistent with the belief that it boosted the primal life force.
Modern science has shown that Shiitake promotes the synthesis of T-cells and natural killer cells. The Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry (the Japanese equivalent to the U.S.A. FDA) approved drug, Lentinan, isolated from a polysaccharide from the fruit body of shiitake, is commonly prescribed by doctors to boost immunity in human cancer cases. Studies show that another compound found in shiitake (Lentinula edodes) may help in cases of hepatitis B by stimulating the production of antibodies that counteract hepatitis.
End Note: The information contained herein is credited to “Medicinal Mushrooms – Ancient Remedies for Modern Ailments” by Georges M. Halpern, MD, PhD. and Andrew H. Miller