Shiitake Lentinus edodes
(Button Mushroom Family)
Shiitake mushrooms are native to Asia where they grow wild on fallen trees. They are now widely cultivated throughout the world.
In East Asia these mushrooms have been used for food and medicine for thousands of years.
Shiitake has traditionally been used to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, control cholesterol levels, build resistance to viruses, and to fight diseases such as cancer.
Research has shown that lentinan, one of the compounds in this herb, can be useful in treating various types of cancers.
Lentinan does not attack cancer cells directly. Instead, it activates the immune system’s lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) and natural killer (NK) cells to combat various types of cancers.
Lentinan also counteracts the formation of prostaglandins that cause inflammation and keep the immune system’s T cells from reaching maturity.
Lentinan stimulates the immune system’s lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) and natural killer (NK) cells. It is useful in fighting carcinomas, hepatomas and sarcomas, and helps protect the immune system from damage during chemotherapy treatments.
In cancer treatment lentinan is sometimes administered by injection.
Lentinan is also used in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease,common colds and viruses, and macular degeneration.
These mushrooms are often eaten in foods, though they should probably not be eaten raw.