Lentinula edodes (Berk.) Pegler

Last updated: 09 May 2016

Scientific Name

Lentinula edodes (Berk.) Pegler


Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Singer, Agaricus edodes Berk. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Oak mushroom [2], shiitake mushroom, oakwood mushroom, Japanese forest-mushroom, black mushroom, pasania [3]
China Hsiang ku [4]
Japan Shiitake [2].

Geographical Distributions

Lentinula edodes is originated from Eastern Asia and has been growing in Japan and China since prehistoric times. The cultivation was then spread to Western countries. [2]

Botanical Description

L. edodes is a member of the Omphalotaceae family [1].

L. edodes pileus is 5-15 cm diametre, fleshy, convex to applanate, subumbonate or depressed, while its surface is variable in colour ranging from ochraceous-buff to tawny, russet to dark vinaceous brown, darker at the centre, often very pale at the margin in young specimens, dry, smooth but soon either disrupting to form innate, appressed traingular squamules or becoming areolately cracked and deeply fissured exposing the white underlying context. [3]

The lamellae is adnexo-adnate, at times with a decurrent tooth, soon separating from the stipe to become free, whitish, sometimes developing reddish brown spots, 4-7 mm broad, somewhat ventricose towards the stipe, moderately crowded, with lamellulae of two lengths. The stipe is central to excentric, 3-7 cm x 8-15 mm, cylindric to slightly fusoid, often compressed, rarely with a subbulbous base, solid, surface pale reddish brown or concolorous but paler than the pileus, fibrillose, smooth and glabrous above, with small and darker brown squamules below. The veil is poorly developed, cortinoid, at times forming a ring-zone on the stipe, and evanescent. The context is 5-8 mm thick at the disk, white, and tough fleshy of loosely woven hyphae. [3]

The spore print is pure white, ovoid to ovo-ellipsoid, sometimes oblong ellipsoid, hyaline, inamyloid, non-dextrinoid, thin-walled, smooth, with few contents. The basidia is narrowly clavate, bearing four sterigmata. It is a lamella-edge fertile or heteromorphous with scattered or clustered small cheilocystidia. The cheilocystidia is inflated clavate, hyaline, thinwalled, with few contents. The hymenophoral trama is regular to subregular, hyaline, inamyloid, of more or less parallel hyphae, with a slightly thickened wall. The subhymenial layer is well developed and interwoven while the pileipellis is an indefinite cutis of more or less radially parallel or subwoven hyphae. [3]


L. edodes grows on the dead wood of a wide range of tree hosts, especially species of Quercus, Lithocarpus, Castanea, Castanopsis cuspidata (Shii-tree) and Fagus in the Fagales, and in addition Carpinus, Platycarya, Juglans, Elaeocarpus, Magnolia, Pinus and Picea. [3]

Chemical Constituent

L. edodes has been reported to contain purine alkaloid (eritadenine), polysaccharide/protein complex (peptidomannan), including the high molecular weight β-1-3-glucan (lentinan) and a lower molecular weight complex (KS-2), and water solubilized lignan derivative (EPS-3). [5][6]

Plant Part Used

Fruiting body and mycelium. [4]

Traditional Use

L. edodes is one of the most consumed mushrooms in the world [2]. It is known in Oriental folk medicine as blood-activating food because it is believed can be used to treat colds, measles in children, dropsy (fluid accumulation in tissue), headache, smallpoxe, stomachache, faintness, and mushroom poisoning. [4]

It has been reported that Japanese used shiitake to treat various illment conditions such as gout, constipation, ulcers, poor vision, myopia, low blood pressure, pyorrhea, hemorrhoids, neuralgia (pain along nerves), allergies, sexual weakness and poor complexion. Members of the Japanese courts of the ancient times stricly guarded the shiitake as it was considerd a valuable medicine as an aprodisiac. [4]

Shiitake during Ming dynasty in China is regarded as medicinal food that can improves spirit or vital energy, doesn’t starve, and can penetrates into the blood circulatory system. In addition, it was reported to cure cold, which could also implied to migraines, strokes, arthritis, and the common cold. The epilepsy could also be treated by using shittake simmered in water. [4]

In traditional Chinese Medicine, shiitake is considered to has ability to treat ailments of the lower body such as prolapsed uterus, gastroptosis (falling stomach), or diarrhoea. [4]

Preclinical Data


Immunomodulating activity

L. edodes mycelia has immunomodulating activity through sveral ways including activation of macrophages, promoting recognition of antigens and information transmission to the T-helper cells, increasing rate of phagocytosis; increase and reinforce interleukin-1 production, thereby activating the T-helper cells; promote the mitosis and proliferation of B-lymphocytes; and increase the production of antibody. [7][8]

Anticancer activity

L. edodes has been reported to increase lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cell activity in vitro. Treatment with L. edodes mycelia preparation increased the LAK cell concentration by 50 percent, and reduced the dose of recombinant interleukin 2 (rIL-2) by 50 percent. This data suggests that shiitake preparations can be used as bio-regulators in LAK cell therapy in tumor treatment. Lentinan (b-1-3-glucan), has been reported to increase host immune responses for patients with advanced or recurrent stomach or colorectal cancer in combination with chemotherapeutic agents such as mitomycin. Lentinan has been administered as an agent for supportive therapy in patients with advanced breast carcinoma. [9]

The β1-3-glucan (lentinan) was reported to reverse tumor growth when injected in mice. It acts by stimulating the immune system, rather than by direct action on the tumour. Lentinan activates the alternative complement pathway, stimulating the macrophages, thus inhibiting tumor growth. It also may activate interleukin-1 secretion, which helps trigger T lymphocytes. L. edodes is also believed to stimulate interferon production. L. edodes significantly inhibited the toxic immunosuppressive effects of cancer drugs such as cyclocytidine, when taken with them. Lentinan restores impaired enzyme activity of X-proline-dipeptidyl-aminopeptidase in the serum of mice with tumors. Because of its large molecular size, lentinan may not be absorbed efficiently when taken orally, but studies report enough is absorbed to elicit a positive pharmacological response. [10]

Aqueous L. edodes extracts have been reported to decrease IL-1 production and apoptosis in human neutrophils in vitro, as measured by ELISA and flow cytometry. The extract was further separated into high and low molecular weight components, and it was found that the low molecular weight component retained the activity of the whole extract. This further suggests that the active substance is a novel compound distinct from lentinan, the well-studied high molecular weight anti-tumour agent found in L. edodes. [11]

Antimicrobial activity


The water-soluble peptidomannan EPS-3 has been reported to inhibit the replication of the HIV in vitro. [12] When compared to AZT and DHT as antiviral agents against HIV-1, HIV-2, and HTLV-I virus, an isolated extract of shiitake mycelia performed equally with the standard antiviral agents in blocking the cell-free infection of HIV-1 and HIV-2; however, only the lentinan polysaccharide preparation blocked the cell-to-cell infection by HIV-1, HIV-2 and HTLV-I. [13] Recently, a new proteinase inhibitor was isolated from L. edodes. [14]


L. edodes extracts are reported to have antibacterial activity in vitro, comparable to ciprofloxacin. [15]

Anticariogenic activity

A study has been carried out on the use of L. edodes extracts for anticariogenic in vitro and in vivo. [16]

Antiatherosclerotic  activity

L. edodes preparations were reported to be anti-atherosclerotic in vitro and may have potential use in managing hypercholesterolemia. The constituent eritadenine, a purine alkaloid from L. edodes, is similar to nucleotides in structure, and has the reported cholesterol lowering ability in animal studies. [17]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Two phase I/II placebo-controlled trials has been carried out to total of 98 patients positive with HIV to study the immune modulating activity of the lentinan isolated from L. edodes in treating Human Immunodeficiency Virus  (HIV) and retroviral infections. In a study at the Community Research Initiative in New York (CRI), the study confirms, in Caucasian subjects also, the good tolerability of lentinan observed in Japanese cancer patients. However in a study at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) there were 9 side effects severe enough to be reported to the FDA (one case each of anaphylactoid reaction, back pain, leg pain, depression, rigor, fever, chills, granulocytopenia and elevated liver enzymes) and there were 4 patients who discontinued the therapy because of side effects. [18]


No documentation.

Side effects

The use of L. edodes powder has been reported to cause mild skin rashes, gastrointestinal upset and eosinophilia, both of which were eliminated when the preparations of L. edodes were discontinued. [19]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Studies have reported that L. edodes stimulates our immune system, which may alter the effects of these medications and possibly the dose needed for treatment. [7][8] These drugs include azathioprine, basiliximab, cyclosporine, daclizumab, glatiramer, muromonab-cd3, mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus (FK506), sirolimus, methotrexate, prednisone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, betamethasone, budesonide, triamcinolone, dexamethasone, and cortisone.

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.

Case Report

A case report of chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis was reportedly induced by L. edodes cultivation on a 72-year-old man, a shiitake mushroom grower over 50 years. He was admitted to hospital because of bilateral chest interstitial shadow with chronic cough and breathlessness. [20]


Dosage Range

No documentation.

Most Common Dosage

Traditional Chinese Medicine [4]

General health maintainance: 3-4 g of shiitake a day.

Mushroom poisoning: 9 g dried shiitake cooked in water. The broth is taken in once a day.

Measles in children: 6 g of dried shiitake simmered in water. The broth is taken twice daily.

Stomachache: 9 g of dried shiitake simmered in water. The broth is taken daily.

Headaches and faintness: Cooked shiitake eaten daily. The amount is according to need.

High cholesterol or atherosclerosis: 9 g dried or 90 g fresh shiitake daily. Powdered in capsules or cooked.

High blood pressure: 8 shiitake a day.

Liver ailments or diabetes: 8 shiitake a day.

Flus and colds: 6-8 g shiitake made into a tea or extract .


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. New Zealand Fungi and Bacteria (NZFUNGI). Lentinula edodes (Berk.) Pegler [homepage on the Internet]. New Zealand: Landcare Research; c2002-2016. [cited 2016 Apr 14]. Available from:
  2. Burlando B, Verotta L, Cornara L, Bottini-Massa E. Herbal principles in cosmetics: Properties and mechanisms of action. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2010; p. 322.
  3. Pegler DN. The genus Lentinula (Tricholomataceae tribe Collybieae). Bull New York Bot Gard. 1909;5(416):227-239.
  4. Jones K. Shiitake: The healing mushroom. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Artrs Press, 1995; p. 4, 13-22.
  5. Chihara G, Hamuro J, Maeda Y, Arai Y, Fukuoka F. Fractionation and purification of the polysaccharides with marked antitumor activity, especially lentinan, from Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Sing. (An edible mushroom). Cancer Res. 1970;30(11):2776-2781.
  6. Fujii T, Maeda H, Suzuki F, Ishida N. Isolation and characterization of a new antitumor polysaccharide, KS-2, extracted from culture mycelia of Lentinus edodes. J Antibiot.(Tokyo). 1978;31(11):1079-1090.
  7. Suzuki H, Okubo A, Yamazaki S, Toda S. Immunopotentiating substances in Lentinus edodes mycelial extract (LEM)--activation of macrophage and proliferation of bone marrow cell. Nippon Shokakibyo Gakkai Zasshi. 1988;85(7): 1430. Japanese.
  8. Suzuki H, Okubo A, Yamazaki S, Suzuki K, Mitsuya H, Toda S. Inhibition of the infectivity and cytopathic effect of human immunodeficiency virus by water-soluble lignin in an extract of the culture medium of Lentinus edodes mycelia (LEM). Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1989;160(1):367-373.
  9. Li JF, Guo JW, Huang XF. Study on the enhancing effect of polyporus polysaccharide, mycobacterium polysaccharide and lentinan on lymphokine-activated killer cell activity in vitro. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1996;16(4):224-226. Chinese
  10. Kurashige S, Akuzawa Y, Endo F. Effects of Lentinus edodes, Grifola frondosa and Pleurotus ostreatus administration on cancer outbreak, and activities of macrophages and lymphocytes in mice treated with a carcinogen, N-butyl-N-butanolnitrosoamine. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 1997;19(2):175-183.
  11. Sia GM, Candlish JK. Effects of shiitake (Lentinus edodes) extract on human neutrophils and the U937 monocytic cell line. Phytother Res. 1999;13(2):133-137.
  12. Tochikura TS, Nakashima H, Ohashi Y, Yamamoto N. Inhibition (in vitro) of replication and of the cytopathic effect of human immunodeficiency virus by an extract of the culture medium of Lentinus edodes mycelia. Med Microbiol Immunol (Berl). 1988;177(5):235-244.
  13. Tochikura TS, Nakashima H, Yamamoto N. Antiviral agents with activity against human retroviruses. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1989;2(5):441-447.
  14. 11 Odani S, Tominaga K, Kondou S, et al. The inhibitory properties and primary structure of a novel serine proteinase inhibitor from the fruiting body of the basidiomycete, Lentinus edodes. Eur J Biochem. 1999;262(3):915-923.
  15. Hearst R, Nelson D, McCollum G, et al. An examination of antibacterial and antifungal properties of constituents of Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms. Complement Ther Clin Pract.  2009;15(1):5-7.
  16. Shouji N, Takada K, Fukushima K, Hirasawa M. Anticaries effect of a component from shiitake (An edible mushroom). Caries Res. 2000;34(1):94-98.
  17. Li KR, Vasil'ev AV, Orekhov AN, Tertov VV, Tutel'ian VA. Anti-atherosclerotic properties of higher mushrooms (A clinico-experimental investigation) [Article in Russian]. Vopr Pitan. 1989;1:16-19.
  18. Gordon M, Bihari B, Goosby E, Gorter R, et al. A placebo-controlled trial of the immune modulator, lentinan, in HIV-positive patients: A phase I/II trial. J Med. 1998;29(5-6):305-330.
  19. Levy AM, Kita H, Phillips SF, et al. Eosinophilia and gastrointestinal symptoms after ingestion of shiitake mushrooms. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998;101(5):613-620.
  20. Kai N, Ishii H, Iwata A, et al. Chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis induced by Shiitake mushroom cultivation: Case report and review of literature [Article in Japanese]. Nihon Kokyuki Gakkai Zasshi. 2008;46(5):411-415.