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Ultimate Guide to Shiitake: Health Benefits, Uses & Medicinal Research

Ultimate Guide to Shiitake: Health Benefits, Uses & Medicinal Research


Move over, button mushrooms. The stage is set for a star of far greater depth and complexity – the Shiitake Mushroom. These humble-looking fungi, revered in Japan for centuries, hold secrets far beyond their earthy exterior.

More than just a savoury addition to stir-fries, these ebony-capped fungi unveil a rich history, a scientific intrigue, and a potential to elevate both health and cuisine.

For centuries, Shiitake have held a coveted position in Eastern traditions. Now, their unique composition is attracting keen scientific scrutiny, as researchers unlock the secrets of their bioactive compounds.

In this article, we will explore the fascinating history, examine its diverse applications, and offer guidance on choosing a top-notch Shiitake mushroom supplement. 

In This Article:

  1. What are Functional Mushrooms?
  2. What is Shiitake?
  3. The Science Behind the Benefits of Shiitake
  4. Health Benefits of Shiitake
  5. How to Buy a Good Quality Shiitake Supplement?
  6. Dose, Safety, Side Effects
  7. How to Take Shiitake Mushrooms for Health Support
  8. Frequently Asked Questions

What are Functional Mushrooms?

Referred to as 'functional mushrooms', these edible fungi boast a diverse range of bioactive compounds. Each type of functional mushroom possesses a unique bioactive profile, contributing to its ability to support specific bodily systems. Shiitake, in particular, stands out for its remarkable capacity to enhance the immune system, among other health benefits.

If you're familiar with functional mushrooms, you've likely encountered the term 'beta-glucans' or 'beta-D-glucans.' These polysaccharides play a crucial role in the immune-modulating effects of mushrooms. A more detailed exploration of Beta-Glucans can be read below.

What is Shiitake?

Shiitake is scientifically known as Lentinula edodes. Recognized for their delectable earthy flavour and meaty texture, are commonly incorporated into a variety of dishes such as fried, stir-fried, and soups, positioning them as versatile culinary additions often classified as vegetables. 

Characterised by large caps ranging from 2 to 5 inches in width, these mushrooms exhibit a colour spectrum from light to chocolate brown, presenting an appealing contrast with their pale cream undersides.

Indigenous to the mountainous regions of Japan, Korea, and China, Shiitake mushrooms thrive on fallen logs. While approximately 83% of Shiitake production occurs in Japan, the United States, Canada, Singapore, and China also contribute to cultivation. [1]

Historical Applications of Shiitake Mushrooms

With a rich historical presence across East Asia, this particular mushroom species has been a staple for both culinary and traditional medicinal purposes. The cultivation of Shiitake mushrooms traces back to China, where around 1,000 to 1,200 years ago, people began cultivating them, referring to the species as dongo or shanku.

The cultivation practices eventually extended to Japan, where samurai warriors controlled much of the production, primarily serving the aristocracy. It was in Japan that Shiitake adopted its widely recognized name, combining "shii" from Castanopsis cuspidata, the hardwood tree species prevalent in the mushrooms' growth environment, and "take," the Japanese term for mushroom.

In China, the mushroom is known as Xiang gu (香菇), translating to "fragrant mushroom." During the Ming Dynasty, shiitake was esteemed as "the elixir of life" in Chinese culture. Shiitake has played a dual role in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), serving not only as a dietary staple but also as a supplement believed to contribute to longevity and support healthy circulation.

Lentinula edodes Shiitake Medicinal Mushroom growing on decaying log

Indigenous to the mountainous regions of Japan, Korea, and China, Shiitake mushrooms thrive on fallen logs

The Science Behind the Benefits of Shiitake

Before we dive into Shiitake’s potent bioactive compounds, it’s important to note that Shiitake also provides essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of B-vitamins, including B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyridoxine), as well as minerals like copper, manganese, and zinc, which are vital for various physiological functions [2]. Shiitake also contains a lot of powerful antioxidants as well as pro-skin health minerals like selenium. 

Additionally, Shiitake serves as a source of amino acids, with some reports suggesting an amino acid content comparable to meat on a dry weight basis. [3]

  • Beta-Glucans
    In the case of Shiitake mushrooms, the polysaccharides present, particularly beta-glucans, have been a focal point of scientific interest due to their potential health-promoting properties. Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates made up of long chains of simple sugar molecules.

    Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharide compounds found in the cell walls of certain grains, fungi, bacteria, and other sources. Shiitake mushrooms, among other fungi like Turkey Tail and Lions Mane, are notable for their high content of beta-glucans. 

  • Beta-Glucan Benefits Explained
    Beta-glucans, the key compounds found in mushrooms, play a pivotal role in fostering immune support and various medicinal attributes.

    Widely recognized as Biological Response Modifiers (BRMs) [5], beta-glucans function by modulating the immune system, adjusting its activity as needed. These modifiers have the capacity to enhance the immune response, leading to a more effective defence against infections. Conversely, they can also dampen an excessively active immune response by modulating anti-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokine is a type of signalling protein that acts as a messenger between immune cells, helping to coordinate and stimulate their activities.

  • Eritadenine 
    Shiitake is a notable source of eritadenine, a bioactive compound believed to contribute to the mushroom's cholesterol-lowering properties. Researchers have studied how eritadenine may lower cholesterol levels. However, the precise way in which eritadenine achieves this effect is not completely understood. [4]

  • Lentinan
    Lentinan, an exclusive beta-glucan found in Shiitake mushrooms, has captivated scientific interest, specifically for its remarkable anti-tumor effects. [6]

    Lentinan demonstrates its anti-tumor effect by activating and stimulating the immune system, prompting it to respond against the growth of tumours [7, 8]

Health Benefits of Shiitake

From traditional uses steeped in centuries of wisdom to cutting-edge scientific discoveries, read on to explore the unique attributes that set Shiitake apart in the world of medicinal mushrooms.

Health Benefits At a Glance:

  1. Shiitake as an Adaptogenic Mushroom
  2. Shiitake Supports the Immune System
  3. Shiitake’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties
  4. Shiitake’s Antioxidant Properties
  5. Shiitake Supports Gut Health and Digestion
  6. Shiitake Can Improve Skin Health
  7. Shiitake May Aid with Weight Management
  8. Shiitake Can Improve Energy Levels
  9. Shiitake May Help Treat Arthritis
  10. Shiitake May Help Balance Blood Sugar Levels
  11. Shiitake May Help Manage Menopause Symptoms
  12. Shiitake May Boost Heart Health
  13. Shiitake May Strengthen Bones
  14. Shiitake and Cancer

Shiitake as an Adaptogenic Mushroom

It's evident that stress levels have surged, with a reported 55% of American adults facing occasional stress, as highlighted by The New York Times in 2019 [9].

What makes this concerning is that episodes of stress can adversely impact various systems within our bodies. In such a scenario, the rise of medicinal mushrooms, including Shiitake mushrooms, becomes particularly relevant. 

Renowned for their adaptogenic properties, these mushrooms aid the body in adapting to different stressors, whether physical, biological, or chemical. Functioning as adaptogens, they interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to stabilise cortisol levels during stress and facilitate the restoration of balance in the body.

Shiitake Supports the Immune System

As mentioned earlier Shiitake is recognized as a Biological Response Modifier (BRM) [5],  thus the beta-glucans function by modulating the immune system, adjusting its activity as needed.

Shiitake mushrooms have demonstrated the ability to enhance immunoglobulin A (IgA), a crucial immune cell integral to our primary defence mechanism in the immune system. [10]

In the context of ageing-related immune decline, a study on mice discovered that a supplement derived from Shiitake contributed to the reversal of some age-related deterioration in immune function. [12]

Shiitake’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The B-vitamins present in Shiitake contribute to promoting a balanced inflammatory response in the body. Additionally, the beta-glucans in Shiitake play a role in regulating an overly active immune response by influencing anti-inflammatory cytokines. [13] Cytokines, as signalling proteins, serve as messengers between immune cells, aiding in the coordination and stimulation of their activities.

Shiitake mushrooms also have the ability to reduce C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a blood marker commonly used to detect inflammation in the body. [10]

Typically, higher levels of CRP indicate an increased inflammatory response. 

Reducing elevated CRP levels is considered beneficial because persistent or excessive inflammation is associated with various health issues, including chronic diseases. Therefore, the ability of Shiitake mushrooms to lower CRP levels is indicative of their potential to help regulate and balance the body's inflammatory response, promoting a healthier state. The goal is not to eliminate CRP (as it has a normal role in the body's defence mechanism) but to bring it to a balanced and healthier level.

Shiitake’s Antioxidant Properties

The antioxidant defence systems in our body are frequently inadequate to fully shield against the harm induced by oxidative stress [14]. Oxidative stress is a condition characterised by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the body and the ability of the body's antioxidant defences to neutralise them. This imbalance can lead to cellular damage and is implicated in various health issues, including ageing and chronic diseases.

Shiitake has the ability to stimulate the body's internal protective mechanisms, playing a crucial role in the body's natural defence systems and contributing significantly to its antioxidant functions [14], thus helping to protect cells from oxidative stress.

Shiitake Supports Gut Health and Digestion

Research suggests that mushrooms, with their high fibre content, can contribute to a healthier gut.

Fibre is known for managing gut inflammation, crucial for a healthy digestive system. Shiitake mushrooms, specifically the Lentinan compound, achieves this by reducing signals that trigger inflammation in the gut. [15, 16]

Because Shiitake is rich in fibre, it can act like a typical fibre supplement, helping with efficient waste removal and detoxification in the intestines.

Additionally, Shiitake has prebiotic effects, supporting the growth of good bacteria. This not only promotes a healthier gut but also strengthens immunity, as 75% of the body's immune cells are produced in the gut.

Click here to explore the benefits of other medicinal mushrooms for improving gut health.

Shiitake Can Improve Skin Health

Shiitake mushrooms are a rich source of beneficial compounds for your skin.

Kojic acid, found in Shiitake, is commonly used in skincare to brighten the skin, fade sunspots, and diminish acne scars. You'll often find kojic acid in various skin-brightening soaps and lotions. [17]

Additionally, Shiitake contains L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from damage, ageing, and breakdown of skin cells. It also helps reduce elastase, an enzyme that breaks down elastin in the skin, contributing to Shiitake's anti-aging benefits and other skincare uses. [18]

Furthermore, selenium, a health mineral present in Shiitake, has been studied for its positive effects on the skin. A 12-week study suggested that supplementing with selenium may help reduce acne scars. [19]

Click here to learn more about the other medicinal mushrooms that can help improve skin health.

Shiitake May Aid with Weight Management

An increasing number of individuals are exploring the benefits of mushrooms for weight management, and for good reason. When prepared thoughtfully, mushrooms can provide comparable nutritional value to meat without the excess calories.

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibre. These beta-glucans not only support heart health but also contribute to a feeling of fullness, helping to curb snacking and prevent overeating. [20]

Additionally, research suggests that incorporating Shiitake into your diet may help reduce the accumulation of fat around the liver. This makes Shiitake a promising addition to weight loss programs and beneficial for individuals dealing with metabolic syndrome. [21]

Shiitake Can Improve Energy Levels

B vitamins, often recognized as energy vitamins due to their role in energy metabolism, are frequently included in supplements such as energy drinks and pre-workouts.

As mentioned above, Shiitake is a good source of B-vitamins, including B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyridoxine) [2]. These B vitamins are integral to the processes that help the body derive energy from the foods we consume.

According to a study, the presence of B vitamins in Shiitake mushrooms is associated with mental alertness, providing a potential solution to combat brain fog and enhance mental energy. [22]

Click here to learn more about the other medicinal mushrooms that can help combat brain fog.

Shiitake May Help Treat Arthritis

Arthritis is a common joint disorder that causes pain and joint inflammation.

The beta-glucans in Shiitake play a role in regulating an overly active immune response by influencing anti-inflammatory cytokines, as mentioned previously [13]. This can aid in reducing inflammation, thus helping combat symptoms of arthritis.

In a 2011 study, Shiitake mushrooms were credited with helping lower the severity of arthritis in animal subjects. A 2018 study also noted its inherent alkalizing effect could help reduce uric acid crystals from depositing in the joints. Shiitake achieves this by increasing the amount of uric acid the body removes through urination. [23, 24]

Arthritis is often linked to the presence of these uric acid crystals in the joints. By promoting the removal of uric acid, Shiitake mushrooms may play a role in reducing the risk or severity of arthritis, providing a potential benefit for joint health.

Click here to learn more about mushrooms that can aid in treating arthritis.

Shiitake May Help Balance Blood Sugar Levels

Maintaining optimal health requires effective regulation of blood sugar levels. Glucose, or blood sugar, serves as the primary energy source for all cells. When there is an inadequate amount of sugar in the blood, cells lack the necessary energy, and excessive sugar levels can negatively impact blood vessels.

The balance of blood sugar levels relies on two hormones: insulin, which reduces blood sugar by facilitating its transport from the blood to the cells, and glucagon, which elevates blood sugar by encouraging the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose. Preserving the body's sensitivity to insulin is crucial for achieving a healthy glucose balance in the body.

Research indicates that Shiitake mushrooms may safeguard pancreatic beta cells, enhance insulin production, and reduce blood glucose levels. [25]

One study tested this by inducing rats with streptozotocin. Streptozotocin is a chemical compound commonly used in scientific research to induce diabetes in laboratory animals, particularly rodents. Results showed that, after being treated with Shiitake, the blood sugar levels of the rats decreased and their insulin production increased. [25]

While these animal studies demonstrate potential, further clinical trials involving human participants are still needed to validate these findings.

Shiitake May Help Manage Menopause Symptoms

Shiitake has shown potential to aid with the management of symptoms associated with menopause.

When women enter their menopausal stages, they are more likely to have poor insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is the body’s ability to scavenge glucose from circulation.

Poor insulin sensitivity could also trigger fibroid growths. Fibroids are non-cancerous and develop in or around the uterus. Some refer to them as uterine myomas. Some symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure/pain, frequent urination, and constipation.

As mentioned earlier, research indicates that Shiitake could help manage blood sugar levels [25], which in turn boosts insulin sensitivity. Shiitake could thus aid with the management of symptoms related to poor insulin sensitivity. 

Shiitake is also helpful for women with menopause because of its weight management benefits. The mushroom contains fat-reducing components such as eritadenine and beta-glucans, which have been cited for their appetite-suppressing properties. [26]

Click here to learn more about the best mushrooms for menopause.

Shiitake May Boost Heart Health

Studies have shown that Shiitake has the potential to lower cholesterol levels, as well as regulate blood pressure.

Lowering Cholesterol Levels

Shiitake mushrooms have demonstrated the ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels in both rats [27-29] and humans [30]. The ability of Shiitake mushrooms to lower blood cholesterol is attributed to the compound eritadenine. 

The researchers have studied how eritadenine may work to reduce cholesterol but haven't fully understood the exact mechanism. Eritadenine is believed to help in lowering blood cholesterol by either promoting the uptake of cholesterol by tissues or inhibiting its release. Importantly, there is no evidence suggesting that eritadenine inhibits the synthesis (production) of cholesterol [31]. Despite its cholesterol-lowering effects, hepatic (liver) cholesterol levels in rats were not reduced by eritadenine. [31, 32]

It has been suggested cholesterol-lowering effect of eritadenine may be linked to alterations in the metabolism of liver phospholipids. Specifically, it points to a decrease in the ratio of phosphatidylcholine (PC) to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) in liver cells of rats [33-37]. Phospholipids are essential components of cell membranes, and changes in their ratio could influence various cellular processes, potentially contributing to the observed hypocholesterolemic (cholesterol-lowering) effects of eritadenine. 

Regulating Blood Pressure

An increase in blood pressure can be detrimental to heart health because it puts extra strain on the arteries and the heart itself. Over time, consistently elevated blood pressure, known as hypertension, can lead to several health problems, including damage to the arteries, kidney damage and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

A study conducted on rats with hypertension (high blood pressure) revealed that the administration of Shiitake powder inhibited the rise in blood pressure. [38]

Shiitake May Strengthen Bones

Mushrooms stand out as the sole natural plant source of vitamin D.

Your body relies on vitamin D for the development of robust bones, but this essential nutrient is scarce in many foods. The vitamin D content in mushrooms depends on their cultivation method. Exposure to UV light enhances their vitamin D levels.

In a particular study, mice on a diet low in calcium and vitamin D exhibited osteoporosis symptoms. Conversely, those given calcium along with UV-enhanced shiitake showed increased bone density [39]

It's worth noting that Shiitake provides vitamin D2, an inferior form compared to vitamin D3 found in fatty fish and certain other animal foods.

Shiitake and Cancer

General Anti-Cancer Benefits

As mentioned previously, Lentinan, an exclusive beta-glucan found in Shiitake mushrooms, has captivated scientific interest, specifically for its remarkable anti-tumor effects. [6] 

Lentinan demonstrates its anti-tumor effect by activating and stimulating the immune system, prompting it to counteract the growth of tumours [7, 8]. 

Shiitake and Lung Cancer

One study aimed to review 12 years of clinical studies in China to understand the potential of lentinan as an immunotherapeutic for treating lung cancer. [40]

The findings suggest that lentinan may have potential as an immunotherapeutic for lung cancer. The review of clinical studies over 12 years provided evidence that lentinan could be beneficial in the treatment of lung cancer.

Shiitake and Ovarian Cancer

A study by Shimizu and team sought to investigate the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer using a combination of lentinan and intra-arterial 5FU (a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat various types of cancer). [41]

The treatment approach involving lentinan combined with intra-arterial 5FU was successful in treating a patient with recurrent ovarian cancer. This suggests that this combination could be a promising therapeutic option for such cases.

Shiitake and Pancreatic Cancer

A 2009 study aimed to assess the effectiveness of orally administered superfine dispersed lentinan in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. [42]

The findings suggest that orally administered superfine dispersed lentinan may be effective in treating advanced pancreatic cancer. This implies that lentinan, when taken orally in a specific form, could have positive effects in combating advanced pancreatic cancer.

Shiitake and Skin Cancer

A study by Gu and Belury aimed to induce apoptosis (cell death) in murine skin carcinoma cells using an ethanol extract of Shiitake. [43]

The findings indicate that the ethanol extract of Shiitake selectively induced apoptosis in murine skin carcinoma cells. This suggests that the extract may have anti-cancer properties specific to skin carcinoma cells.

Shiitake and Gastric Cancer

A recent study found that combining chemo-immunotherapy with lentinan helps people with advanced gastric cancer live longer compared to those who only receive chemotherapy. [44]

These investigations delve into diverse methods and substances for treating different cancers, offering valuable insights into potential therapeutic options and their effectiveness in both preclinical and clinical environments. Nevertheless, this underscores the importance of conducting additional research to deepen our understanding and refine these potential treatments.

How to Buy a Good Quality Shiitake Supplement?

Choosing a good quality mushroom supplement can be a daunting task, as there are many options available in the market. However, there are a few key things to consider when selecting a high-quality mushroom supplement:

Fruiting Body vs. Mycelium

Quality control standards for functional mushroom products are currently lacking, highlighting the urgent need for systematic scientific verification of active compounds in these nutritional supplements. This is crucial for ensuring greater accountability regarding ingredient integrity and transparency.

When a product fails to specify the source of its Shiitake, there's a risk that it relies on mycelium (the fungal root structure) rather than the Shiitake fruiting body (the actual mushroom we see above the ground). To ensure the highest quality Shiitake mushroom supplement, it is advisable to choose products with an ingredients label indicating the use of only organic fruiting body, free from mycelium or grain contaminants.

Explore the notable distinctions between supplements crafted from mycelium and those derived from the fruiting body by clicking here.

Beta-Glucan Content

Beta-glucans are one of the primary compounds responsible for the unique immune system-supporting function and other health benefits of Shiitake.

Many brands incorporate various starch, fillers, colorings, unnecessary additives, and other ingredients into their supplements, which offer no health benefits. Moreover, these additions suggest a low percentage of actual Shiitake extract in the product, resulting in a diminished concentration of beta-glucans (medicinal compounds) and, consequently, lower therapeutic potency.

To obtain the most potent and high-value functional fungi supplement, scrutinise the product label for specific beta-glucan content. To ensure the optimal quality of your Shiitake mushroom supplement, verify that the product specifies a beta-glucan concentration of at least 25%. This ensures you receive the full spectrum of health benefits associated with this mushroom.

Antioxi's Shiitake Extract is notable for its exceptional beta-glucan content, surpassing 40%, and recent reports even demonstrating concentrations beyond 50%, ensuring that you receive the essential benefits.

Organically Certified

Opt for certified organic options as mushrooms tend to absorb pollutants from their surroundings. Mushrooms that are organically grown refer to mushrooms cultivated in a natural manner, devoid of herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.

Safety Tests

  • Quality Assurance Through European Standards:

    When it comes to our Shiitake extract, we take pride in adhering to the stringent quality standards set by Europe, which are known worldwide for their unwavering dedication to product safety and excellence.

  • Heavy Metal Screening for Shiitake Extract:

    What we do: Our rigorous testing includes heavy metal screening specifically for our Shiitake extract.This process ensures that our Shiitake extract remains untainted by hazardous elements like lead, mercury, or cadmium.

    Why we do it: By eliminating the risk of exposure to toxic substances, we guarantee the safety of our consumers.

  • Pesticide Checks for Shiitake Extract:

    What we do: Our meticulous examinations extend to the detection of pesticide residues in our Shiitake extract. This practice verifies that our Shiitake mushrooms are cultivated without the use of harmful pesticides.

    Why we do it: By choosing our Shiitake extract, you support organic and sustainable farming practices that prioritize both health and the environment.

  • Ethylene Oxide Testing for Shiitake Extract:

    What we do: Our testing procedures encompass ethylene oxide testing, specifically tailored for our Shiitake extract. This ensures that our Shiitake extract is entirely free from ethylene oxide, a potentially unsafe chemical used for sterilization.

    Why we do it: By selecting our Shiitake extract, you can trust that it is entirely safe for consumption, free from any harmful chemical residues.

  • Microbial Assessments for Shiitake Extract:

    What we do: Our focus on quality extends to microbial assessments, addressing concerns such as bacteria, molds, and fungi specifically for our Shiitake extract.

    Why we do it: These assessments confirm that our Shiitake extract is devoid of harmful microorganisms.
By choosing our Shiitake extract, you are assured of its overall quality and safety, adhering to the highest standards in medicinal mushroom production.

Extraction Method

Understanding the ingredients in your diet is crucial, especially when it comes to functional mushrooms and their quality. Opting for a low-quality mushroom supplement poses a risk to experiencing the full range of potential benefits, making your health a priority.

A key indicator of a high-quality functional mushroom product is its extraction from the mushroom (fruiting body) and using the appropriate method. Three commonly used extraction methods for functional mushrooms are hot water, alcohol, and dual extraction (involving both hot water and alcohol). 

The choice of the extraction method can impact the quality, and research indicates that not all methods are equally effective for every mushroom. Some methods may even remove medicinal constituents during the process. Therefore, it is crucial for supplement producers to understand which extraction method ensures maximum benefit and efficacy for their product.

To maintain elevated beta-glucan levels, Antioxi employs the hot water extraction method.

To guarantee the top-notch quality of your Shiitake mushroom supplement, check whether the product has utilised a hot water extraction method.

Click the link below to learn more about what to look for when choosing a high-quality mushroom supplement. 

Learn More

Dose, Safety, Side Effects

Dose

General Health Maintenance:

For those incorporating mushrooms into their routine for overall health benefits, a suggested dose of 3g or 6 capsules is recommended. This non-treatment use aims to promote well-being and vitality.

Treatment-Targeted Use:

If you are utilising mushrooms as part of a treatment plan for a specific health condition, a suggested dose of 5g or 10 capsules is advised. This higher dose is intended to address targeted health concerns.

How to Take Medicinal Mushrooms for Maximum Absorption:

  1. Empty Stomach Preferred: Medicinal mushrooms are most effective when taken on an empty stomach. This practice can enhance their absorption as there is less competition with other foods and digestive processes. If possible, aim to take them in the morning before eating.

  2. Consider Your Constitution: If you have a sensitive or weaker constitution and experience discomfort when taking mushrooms on an empty stomach, it’s advisable to consume them with a meal. This can help minimize any potential digestive issues.

  3. Consistency is Key: To experience the potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, establish a consistent routine for consumption. Taking them regularly can contribute to their effectiveness over time.

  4. Morning is Ideal: Ideally, take your medicinal mushrooms in the morning as it aligns with the practice of consuming them on an empty stomach. This can help kickstart your day with the potential benefits of these mushrooms.

  5. Split Doses for Larger Amounts or Combinations: If you require larger doses of medicinal mushrooms or are combining multiple mushroom varieties for specific health goals, consider splitting your doses between morning and evening. This approach can ensure that you receive the intended benefits while minimizing potential side effects.

  6. Consult a Professional: It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist for personalized guidance on the best way to incorporate medicinal mushrooms into your wellness routine. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your individual health needs and goals.

Flexible Dosage Regimen:

Whether you prefer splitting the dose throughout the day or taking it all at once, the choice is yours. For optimal absorption, it is recommended to consume mushrooms on an empty stomach. However, if you have a sensitive constitution, consider splitting the dose and taking it after a meal.

Why the Discrepancy in Recommended Doses?

You may have noticed that some mushroom distributors recommend lower doses, such as 1g. This is often as large companies typically suggest consulting with a health practitioner to ascertain the right dosage for individual health conditions, which can result in recommendations for lower quantities. However, our dosage recommendations are directly informed by clinical literature, enabling us to provide specific dosing instructions with a solid foundation in research.

Safety

Individuals with diabetes are advised to seek guidance from their healthcare provider before incorporating Shiitake extracts into their diet, as it may impact blood sugar levels. 

Additionally, Shiitake extracts has the potential to lower blood pressure, making it essential to discuss its usage with a doctor, especially for those with a history of low blood pressure.

Do not consume Shiitake mushroom extracts within two weeks of undergoing surgery or if you suffer from a bleeding disorder.

For individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an autoimmune disease, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before considering the use of Shiitake mushrooms.

Do not consume Shiitake if you are allergic to mushrooms.

Medication Interactions

While Shiitake mushrooms boast potential health benefits, it's crucial to be mindful of potential interactions with medications. Understanding how Shiitake may interact with certain conditions and medications can guide individuals in making informed decisions regarding its inclusion in their routine.

Individuals who are taking the following medications should also consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Shiitake into their regimen:

  • Medications for diabetes management
  • Blood-thinning medications
  • Blood pressure-lowering medications

If you have any concerns regarding the interaction between Shiitake and your medications, it's a good idea to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can offer you the most appropriate guidance.

Please bear in mind that the information we provide is for educational purposes and shouldn't be considered a replacement for professional medical advice. 

Your health and safety are important to us and we want to ensure all our customers use our products to their benefit, not detriment.

Side Effects

Most people can safely consume Shiitake, although some side effects may occur.

There have been reports that prolonged consumption of powdered Shiitake extract may lead to side effects such as stomach discomfort and heightened sensitivity to sunlight. [45, 46]

Occasionally, individuals may experience a skin rash as a result of consuming or coming into contact with raw shiitake mushrooms [47]. This skin condition, known as shiitake dermatitis, is believed to be triggered by lentinan. [48] This however does not apply to our Antioxi products as our medicinal mushrooms are 100% pure extracts.

How to Take Shiitake Mushrooms for Health Support

Powders vs. Capsules

 

Shiitake mushroom extract from antioxi

 

For those with a fast-paced lifestyle, intricate recipes might not be in the cards. That's precisely why Antioxi has crafted an Organic Shiitake Extract available in convenient capsule form. 

If you're a barista or favour the convenience of a powder, our Organic Shiitake Extract in powder form could be an ideal option for you. Our Shiitake can be seamlessly incorporated into smoothies, stews, coffee and all your other favourite meals and drinks. 

It's essential to note that there is no difference in potency between our powdered extracts and capsules. Our capsules contain the exact same powdered extract, guaranteeing uniform effectiveness throughout our product line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Mushrooms Organic?

All of our mushrooms have been organically sourced and certified b the United Kingdom organic food federation.

Is It Safe To Consume Medicinal Mushrooms During Pregnancy or whilst Breastfeeding?

While medicinal mushrooms can offer some great benefits during pregnancy such as strengthening immune health, improving digestion and of course the much needed energy boost, there is unfortunately not yet enough information regarding studies during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding where we can confidently give advice.

The best would be to consult with your healthcare provider and/or midwife.

Can Children Use Medicinal Mushrooms?

Research regarding the use of medicinal mushrooms by children is still at its infancy. There is however an interesting study conducted in 2018 which investigated the effects of Reishi on immune system cells of 3-5 year olds. [49]

The study showed that Reishi increased immune system cell counts in the peripheral blood, which are crucial for defending against infections. The treatments were also well-tolerated and safe, with no abnormal increases in serum creatinine or hepatic aminotransferases. While the study shows promise in the safety and effectiveness of the use of medicinal mushrooms in children, we do always suggest consulting with your child's doctor prior to introducing anything new into their diet.

If you do get the go ahead we suggest reducing the diet to 1/4 of a dose for young children.

These findings suggest the need for more extended controlled clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms in preventing infections in children.

What is the difference between the Powder and Capsules?

There is no difference in terms of benefits. The only difference is preference of use.

What is the difference between using the 8 Mushroom Blend and using an individual mushroom?

Our 8-blend mushroom product is like an all-in-one health elixir. It's perfect for those seeking overall well-being, boosting digestion, or just looking for a daily health lift.

However, if you're using mushrooms as targeted support for a specific health concern, say, Lion's Mane for cognitive clarity or Reishi for stress relief, the individual route is your best bet.

Are There Any Allergy Precautions/Medication Interactions?

Individuals with diabetes are advised to seek guidance from their healthcare provider before incorporating Shiitake into their diet, as it may impact blood sugar levels. 

Additionally, Shiitake has the potential to lower blood pressure, making it essential to discuss its usage with a doctor, especially for those with a history of low blood pressure.

Do not consume Shiitake mushrooms within two weeks of undergoing surgery or if you suffer from a bleeding disorder.

For individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an autoimmune disease, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before considering the use of Shiitake mushrooms.

Do not consume Shiitake if you are allergic to mushrooms.

Individuals who are taking the following medications should also consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Shiitake into their regimen:

  • Medications for diabetes management
  • Blood-thinning medications
  • Blood pressure-lowering medications

Which Mushroom Extraction do you use?

The optimal extraction method once again depends on the mushroom itself. Different methods are used to promote and dissolve the unique active ingredients in the mushroom extracts and hence create a high spectrum mushroom extract.

The 3 different extraction methods:

1. Alcohol (ethanol)

This extraction is used to draw out the fat-soluble compounds in the mushrooms, such as the adaptogenic terpenoids. 

2. Hot water 

This extraction is used to extract the water-soluble compounds, the polysaccharides, and the immunomodulating Beta-D-glucans. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a potent mushroom extract.

3. Dual extraction

Dual extraction refers to a combination of water and alcohol extraction. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a mushroom where the active ingredients benefit from both alcohol and well as a water extract.

Hot water extraction works best for:

Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Maitake, Tremella and Shiitake

Double (alcohol & water) extraction works best for:

Lion's Mane, Reishi, Chaga

Do you use the Fruiting Body or Mycelium?

We use the Fruiting Body of Shiitake.

We have a helpful article here which explains the different mushroom parts.

Resources

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