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Shiitake (hua gu)
What is shiitake?
Shiitake (also known as hua gu) is a type of wild mushroom
native to Japan, China and other areas in Asia. The mushrooms
are small, grayish-brown and usually grow on the trunks of
dead trees. Shiitake mushrooms have been a staple of Japanese
and Chinese cuisine for millennia and are now one of the most
popular types of mushrooms consumed in the U.S.
Why do we need shiitake? What is
it used for?
Shiitake mushrooms contain about twice as much protein as
most vegetables and are a good source of fiber. They are a
good source of complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides,
which are believed to boost the immune system. Shiitake mushrooms
also contain iron, minerals, and vitamins B1 and B2, with
relatively high amounts of niacin and riboflavin.
How much shiitake should I take?
Traditionally, the intake of dried shiitake mushrooms (either
in soups or as a decoction) is between 6-16 grams per day.
For shiitake tinctures, 2-4 milliliters per day is recommended.
What forms of shiitake are available?
Shiitake mushrooms are most readily available in the fresh
or dried variety and can be found at most grocery stores.
It is also available in tincture form, and a powdered extract
known as LEM (lentinus edodes mycelium) is available at many
What can happen if I take too much
shiitake? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
While shiitake has an excellent safety record, it has been
known to induce temporary diarrhea and abdominal bloating
when consumed in high amounts (>20 grams per day). Women
who are pregnant or nursing should consult with their health
professional before consuming shiitake.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa
Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, pp. 125-8.
- Jones K. Shiitake: a major medicinal mushroom.
Alt Compl Ther 1998;4:53-9.
- Jones K. Shiitake: The Healing Mushroom.
Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1995.
- Lin Y, et al. A double-blind treatment
of 72 cases of chronic hepatitis with lentinan injection.
News Drugs and Clin Remedies 1987;6:362-3.
- Taguchi I. Clinical efficacy on lentanin
on patients with stomach cancer. End point results of a
four-year followup survey. Cancer Detect Prevent Suppl