Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is native to Asia with a rich history of use in the kitchen and in herbalism. In the 12th century, Shiitake Mushroom cultivation began in the mountains of central China. A fragrant and delicious edible mushroom, Shiitake is now the second most popular cultivated Mushroom in the world.
While Shiitake are cultivated around the world, its natural habitat is hardwood forests throughout Asia. In nature, Shiitake spores are released from fruiting bodies in the fall or spring, traveling through the forest air and landing on both live tree branches and fallen limbs and logs. Healthy trees will overcome the Shiitake spores and live on, while the Shiitake spores will take over the dead branch and build a mycelial network that produces fruiting bodies.
A mushroom goes through many stages during its life cycle, just like any plant or animal. Each part of a mushroom has unique attributes that support wellness and serve a different purpose for the organism, but it’s the fruiting bodies that receive the most attention and are the most familiar. Fruiting bodies emerge from the substrate on which they grow — such as trees or fallen logs — to become the part of the mushroom we recognize. They’re the above-ground part that we can see when we walk through the woods, and they’re also what have been traditionally foraged and consumed, in food and supplements.
The fruiting bodies of this mushroom contain polysaccharides, specifically a type called beta-glucans, which have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness, as well as normal, healthy cell growth and turnover.* The fruiting body extracts we use contain these polysaccharides, without unnecessary fillers or starches.
Shiitake supports immune and cardiovascular health.* Since the 1970s, the Japanese Mushroom industry has supported extensive research into the nutritional and immunosupportive properties of Shiitake.*
Uses of Shiitake
This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.