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Shiitake Mushroom

Plant Part Used

Fruiting body and mycelium.

Active Constituents

Purine alkaloid (eritadenine), polysaccharide/protein complex (peptidomannan), including the high molecular weight b-1-3-glucan (lentinan) and a lower molecular weight complex (KS-2); water solubilized lignan derivative (EPS-3).(1), (2)

[span class=alert]This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]


Shiitake mushroom grows on the trunks or stumps of trees and has been used by the Chinese for centuries as a healing agent. The part used medicinally is the mycelia or immature growing stage of the mushroom. Shiitake mycelia are rich in carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Shiitake has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years as a medicinal agent. The polysaccharide/protein complex of the medicinal extract reportedly provides the immunomodulating activity of the mushroom.(3),(4)

Interactions and Depletions


Dosage Info

Dosage Range

100-400mg (standardized extract), 3 times a day, with food.

Most Common Dosage

200mg (standardized extract), 3 times a day, with food.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 3.2% KS-2 polysaccharides per dose.


Frequently Reported Uses

  • Antitumor
  • Antiviral.
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Adaptogen, Tonic
  • Adjunctive Support In Chemotherapy And Radiation

Other Reported Uses

  • Anti-Cariogenic
  • HIV And Retroviruses
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Immunomodulatory Effects
  • Antiatherosclerotic

Toxicities & Precautions


Shiitake mushroom has been reported safe in recommended doses.

Side Effects

The use of shiitake mushroom powder has been reported to cause mild skin rashes, gastrointestinal upset and eosinophilia, both of which were eliminated when the preparations of shiitake were discontinued. (5)

A case report of chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis was reportedly induced by shiitake mushroom cultivation.(17)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.


Shiitake mycelia has been reported to be immunomodulating in the following ways:(6),(7)

a) Activation of macrophages, promoting recognition of antigens and information transmission to the T-helper cells,
    increasing rate of phagocytosis
b) Increase and reinforce interleukin-1 production, thereby activating the T-helper cells
c) Promote the mitosis and proliferation of B-lymphocytes
d) Increase antibody production.

Isolated extracts of shiitake (lentinan) also have been reported to be effective in treating HIV and retroviral infections in vivo and in vitro.(8) The water-soluble peptidomannan EPS-3 has been reported to inhibit the replication of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in vitro.(9) 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.(10) Recently, a new proteinase inhibitor was isolated from shiitake.(11)

Shiitake has been reported to increase lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cell activity in vitro.(12) Treatment with shiitake 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.(12) The b-1-3-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 tumor.(13) 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. Shiitake is also believed to stimulate interferon production. Shiitake 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.

Aqueous shitake extracts have been reported to decrease IL-1 production and apoptosis in human neutrophils in vitro, as measured by ELISA and flow cytometry.(14) 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 shiitake.

Shiitake preparations were reported to be anti-atherosclerotic in vitro and may have potential use in managing hypercholesterolemia.(15) The constituent eritadenine, a purine alkaloid from shiitake, is similar to nucleotides in structure, and has the reported cholesterol lowering ability in animal studies.

Shiitake extracts are reported to have antibacterial activity in vitro, comparable to ciprofloxacin.(18) Another reported use of shiitake extracts has been anti-cariogenic in vitro and in vivo.(16)


  1. Chihara G, et al. Fractionation and Purification of the Polysaccharides With Marked Antitumor Activity,Especially Lentinan, from Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Sing. (An Edible Mushroom). Cancer Res. Nov1970;30(11):2776-81.
  2. View Abstract: Fujii T, et al. Isolation and Characterization of a New Antitumor Polysaccharide, KS-2, Extracted From Culture Mycelia of Lentinus edodes. J Antibiot.(Tokyo). Nov1978;31(11):1079-90.
  3. View Abstract: Wang GL, et al. The Immunomodulatory Effect of Lentinan. Yao Hsueh Hsueh Pao. 1996;31(2):86-90.
  4. View Abstract: Yamamoto Y, et al. Immunopotentiating Activity of the Water-soluble Lignin Rich Fraction Prepared From LEM--The Extract of the Solid Culture Medium of Lentinus edodes Mycelia. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. Nov1997;61(11):1909-12.
  5. View Abstract: Levy AM. Eosinophilia and Gastrointestinal Symptoms After Ingestion of Shiitake Mushrooms. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May1998;101(5):613-20.
  6. Suzuki H, et al. Immunopotentiating Substances in Lentinus edodes Mycelial Extract(LEM)-- Activation of Macrophage and Proliferation of Bone Marrow Cell. Nippon Shokakibyo Gakkai Zasshi. Jul1988;85(7): 1430.
  7. View Abstract: Suzuki H, et al. 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. Apr1989;160(1):367-73.
  8. View Abstract: Gordon M, 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):305-30.
  9. View Abstract: Tochikura TS, et al. 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):235-44.
  10. View Abstract: Tochikura TS, et al. Antiviral Agents With Activity Against Human Retroviruses. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1989;2(5):441-47.
  11. View Abstract: Odani 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. Jun1999;262(3):915-23.
  12. View Abstract: Li JF, et al. Study on the Enhancing Effect of Polyporus Polysaccharide, Mycobacterium Polysaccharide and Lentinan on Lymphokine-activated Killer Cell Activity in vitro. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. Apr1996;16(4):224-26.
  13. View Abstract: Kurashige S, et al. 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. May1997;19(2):175-83.
  14. View Abstract: Sia GM, et al. Effects of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) Extract on Human Neutrophils and the U937 Monocytic Cell Line. Phytother Res. Mar1999;13(2):133-37.
  15. View Abstract: Li KR, et al. Anti-atherosclerotic Properties of Higher Mushrooms (a Clinico-experimental Investigation. Vopr Pitan. Jan1989;1:16-19.
  16. View Abstract: Shouji N, et al. Anticaries Effect of a Component From Shiitake (An Edible Mushroom). Caries Res. Feb2000;34(1):94-98.
  17. Kai N, Ishii H, Iwata A, et al. [Chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis induced by Shiitake mushroom cultivation: case report and review of literature]. Nihon Kokyuki Gakkai Zasshi. May 2008;46(5):411-415. Review. Japanese.
  18. 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. Feb 2009;15(1):5-7. Epub 2008 Dec 2.

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