In traditional Asian medicine, mushrooms are primary sources of nutrition. Specific species of mushrooms are regarded with such high importance that they appear in ancient Asian art, marking their distinctive role in history and culture. Whether they are cooked or had their nutrients extracted, these mushrooms are shown to contribute to longevity.
The shiitake mushroom is one such species that is highly valued in traditional Asian medicine because of its long history in Asian cuisine. These brown mushrooms with bulbous caps are also known as Lentinula edodes, and are the second most cultivated mushrooms in the world. Lentinula edodes is called xiānggū in Chinese, while it is known as pyogo in Korean. It is most commonly known as the shiitake mushroom, taking its name from the Japanese shii, which is an evergreen tree that the mushroom normally grows on.
The mushroom's scientific name is drawn from the compound called lentinan, which is a beta-glucan, a type of polysaccharide or sugar that can support the immune system. Like other beta-glucans, lentinan is known to stimulate the production of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are also called antibodies as they repel and kill foreign bacteria and viruses that can destroy healthy cells.
The beta-glucans taken from the shiitake extract are also found to promote liver function. The liver's purpose is to detoxify the body, acting as a filter for the potential harms brought by alcohol and cholesterol. Since the liver aids in digestion and metabolism, boosting the organ's strength can potentially help the body become cleaner, but of course, with the aid of good diet and exercise.
A shiitake extract also contains eritadenine, which, like lentinan, is found only in the Lentinula edodes. Eritadenine has been found in some medical experiments to reduce cholesterol.* This compound is also known to have anti-clotting properties, so people need to consult their physician before considering any shiitake supplements.
Apart from these important compounds, shiitake extract also contains fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Fiber can improve digestive movement and efficiently clean the colon. Medical experiments have also found the Lentinula edodes to contain iron.
Compounds from Mushrooms that Benefit the Body