Shiitake Mushroom – Materia Medica


Shiitake mushrooms add that “umami” flavor that is apparent in many Asian dishes. And with its meaty texture, these fungi can introduce people to the world of vegetarian or vegan eating. In 199 AD, the Japanese emperor was gifted with shiitake mushrooms from the people of the Kyushu area. The people of the Ming Dynasty considered it to be an “elixir of life” and it was reserved only for the consumption by the emperor and his family. Fast forward to today, the sale of shiitakes is so popular that it comes in second place only to the common button mushroom. 

  • Common Name: Shiitake Mushroom 
  • Latin Name: Lentinula edodes
  • Family: Tricholomataceae
  • Areas of Origin: China, Japan and Korea
  • Botanical Description: A fungus which grows at the base of decomposing hardwood trees. The mushroom caps are brown in color and flatten out as they mature and are dried. The gills are white but can brown if damaged or bruised. 
  • Parts Used: Whole mushroom
  • Uses: Immunity booster, may destroy cancer cells, supports heart health, boosts energy and brain function, improves circulation
  • Actions: Antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer
  • Preparations: Tea, extracts, capsules, food
  • Taste: Earthy, woodsy, meaty
  • Safety: Best to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding; autoimmune diseases and eosinophilis (a blood disorder); consuming raw or undercook may cause “shiitake dermatitis” 
  • Contraindications (Plant-Medication Combinations): None known

Until next time, discover the power of welcoming nature’s healing plants into your life.



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