Shiitake mushroom

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Cultivated Shiitake mushrooms
Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Clinically unproven

Shiitake[1] mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are common in oriental cuisine and popular among gourmet food aficionados, and they make a pretty tasty soup. They are easily found at your local supermarket or from a quality grocer. Shiitake mushrooms are also one of a few known natural dietary sources of vegan vitamin D. (While your body can make vitamin D when exposed to sun, taking supplements is recommended in winter in less sunny climes, and for people who seldom expose flesh to sunlight; it's hard even for omnivores to get enough vitamin D solely from their diet.[2][3])

Shiitake mushrooms have some chemical compounds, such as itchtyol, worth researching for benefits ranging from anti-viral properties to possible treatments for severe allergies, as well as arthritis. Lenthionine, a key flavour compound of shiitake, inhibits platelet aggregation, so it is a promising treatment for thrombosis.

Compounds in shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate anti-tumor properties in laboratory mice. Studies have identified the polysaccharide lentinan, a (1-3)-β-D-glucan, as the active compound responsible for the anti-tumor effects.[4] The mushrooms are, consequently, touted by some quacks and alternative health gurus as being a cure for cancer,[5] with some citing the aforementioned study to bolster their claims.

Eating raw or undercooked shiitakes can cause a skin reaction, called shiitake mushroom dermatitis, which usually goes away after you stop eating them, and has no long-term effects.[6] They may accumulate toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, although they also accumulate nice metals with useful biological functions; hopefully, those available for sale will have been tested for toxins.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. Pronounced "Shee-tah-keh" rather than "Shit-ache".
  2. Vitamin D, Vegan Society, accessed Sep 5, 2019
  3. Vitamin D, NHS (UK), 3 March 2017
  4. Inhibition of growth and induction of apoptosis in human cancer cell lines by an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms.
  5. Shiitake Mushroom Cancer Treatment by Henry Pitot (Feb 18, 2015) (archived from March 4, 2015).
  6. Don’t miss shiitake dermatitis: a case report, Sanja Karanovic, Susannah George and Emma Topham, British Journal of General Practice 2014; 64(625):426-427. doi:10.3399/bjgp14X681193
  7. Nutritional and Medicinal Value of Specialty Mushrooms, William M Breene, Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 53, No. 10, Pages 883-894 (October 1990)