Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is considered a delicacy the world over and is on of the most popular mushrooms consumed today. There are records of its cultivation in Japan and China that go back more than 1000 years. Shiitake means ‘shii mushroom’ in Japanese; referring to the shii-tree on which it most commonly grows on in Japan. Some other names that it has been called are Golden Oak mushroom, Black Forest mushroom, and Oakwood mushroom.
This mushroom has had considerable amount of scientific research conducted on its medicinal benefits and is very well-known for being rich in 2 pharmaceutically relevant compounds :
Lentinan – a cell wall polysaccharide extractable from the fruit-body.
LEM – a protein-bound polysaccharide derived from the .
Both compounds have demonstrated powerful anticancer activity and are increasingly being used to help support the immune system of cancer patients during radio and chemotherapy. Like many medicinal mushrooms, these compounds act by enhancing various immune system functions rather than attacking the cancer cells directly. Shiitake has been used medically for any and all diseases involving compromised immune systems including cancer, AIDS, allergies and viral infections. In addition to this, it also has been found to contain compounds effective in lowering cholesterol and treating high blood pressure.
Overall, this is a mushroom holding many benefits and due to it popularity, is one of the sought after mushrooms. To learn more about its cultivation practices, refer to this article (Coming soon)