You’re probably familiar with the Shiitake mushroom. This fungus is edible, tasty, and used in many dishes, as well as easy to find in your local grocery store. What you might not be as familiar with are the ways that the Shiitake mushroom benefits your health.*
In this article, we’ll explore the main health benefits of Shiitake mushrooms and discuss how you can work this fungus into your wellness regimen, either by cooking with it, taking a capsule, or using a mushroom powder.
But before we get there, let’s look at what Shiitake mushrooms are and where and how they grow.
What Are Shiitake Mushrooms?
These mushrooms are known scientifically by the name Lentinus edodes, but you likely know them simply as Shiitake mushrooms. They are quite popular in the culinary world and are commonly used in a variety of dishes.
In fact, a Cornell University publication notes that the Shiitake mushroom is the second most-produced mushroom in the world.1
However, before this fungus became so common around the globe, it grew on hardwoods in East Asia.
Shiitake spores thrive when they land on dead or fallen trees or limbs. They build a hidden mycelial network that produces fruiting bodies, which is the above-ground part of the mushroom that we forage and eat.
The Shiitake mushroom has a history of use both in the kitchen and in herbalism. In Chinese historical writings it was called “an elixir of life.” This mushroom was first cultivated in central China during the 12th century.2
Unlike more unusual-looking mushrooms such as Cordyceps or Chaga, the Shiitake mushroom boasts the typical umbrella shape that comes to mind when we think of mushrooms. They are tan or brown in color and typically measure two to four inches in diameter.
Shiitake mushrooms aren’t just delicious to eat and easy to find. They are also unique in that they contain linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) and all eight essential amino acids, and they are counted among the few foods that contain vitamin D (primarily vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol).2
And, like other mushrooms, the fruiting body of the Shiitake mushroom contains polysaccharides, specifically a type called beta glucans, which have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness.*
Now, let’s dive into the specifics of how the Shiitake mushroom can benefit your well-being.*
Shiitake Mushroom Benefits
Shiitake Mushrooms Support Immune Health*
One of the biggest benefits of Shiitake mushrooms is that they can support immune health.* In general, mushrooms are known to be beneficial for the immune system.* Shiitake is no different.
This is primarily due to the polysaccharides called beta glucans that we mentioned earlier. These polysaccharides have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness, as well as normal, healthy cell growth and turnover.*
Additionally, it’s important to remember that a healthy immune system is closely related to your gut health.
In an article titled “Mushrooms and Health Summit Proceedings,” the authors note, “Preliminary evidence suggests that mushrooms may support healthy immune and inflammatory responses through interaction with the gut microbiota, enhancing the development of adaptive immunity, and improved immune cell functionality.”*2
In a study conducted with 52 healthy adults, researchers found that regular consumption of Shiitake mushrooms “resulted in improved immunity, as seen by improved cell proliferation and activation.”*3
While more research and clinical studies will need to be done before any definitive conclusions can be drawn, we are excited by these promising results.*
Shiitake Mushrooms Support Heart Health*
Another one of our favorite aspects of the Shiitake mushroom is that it supports heart health.*
How? A compound in Shiitakes called eritadenine appears to help the body maintain healthy cholesterol levels.*4
Not to mention, these mushrooms are naturally low in sodium and free of saturated fats, making them a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. They’re especially beneficial and delicious when used as an alternative to processed meats.
How to Experience Shiitake Mushroom Benefits
We’ve gone over some of the benefits that Shiitake mushrooms provide. How can you work these mushrooms into your daily life?
Many people cook with Shiitake mushrooms regularly. That’s one delicious way to reap the benefits of this fungus.
Or, if you are not a fan of the taste or texture of mushrooms, you can easily take a capsule supplement or use a powder supplement that contains pure Shiitake mushroom and still reap the benefits from this fabulous fungi.
We’ll look at both options so you can determine which best fits your lifestyle.
Shiitake Mushroom Capsules
Immune Mushroom Blend
With a blend of five potent immune-supporting mushrooms—Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, and Chaga—our Immune Mushroom Blend can help your body build its immune defenses to support your well-being all year long.*
The blend contains only 100% organic fruiting bodies and nothing else, no fillers, starch, grains, or mycelium. The mushrooms used in this formula are hot water and dual extracted for optimal bioavailability, absorption, and digestibility.* And best of all, each vegan capsule contains 2,500 mg of dried mushrooms, so you get the support you need with just one capsule per day.*
Whole Body Support Mushrooms & Herbs*
Gaia Herbs Whole Body Support Mushrooms & Herbs, formerly called Mushrooms + Herbs Reishi + Turmeric, is an award-winning formula that is designed to provide daily support to help people stay active.*
As the name implies, these vegan capsules are loaded with both mushrooms and herbs to benefit your well-being—Reishi and Shiitake mushrooms, as well as Ginger and Turmeric.* And that’s it. No fillers, no sugar, and no common allergens like dairy, gluten, soy, or peanuts.
So, you can use Shiitake mushrooms via Whole Body Support Mushrooms & Herbs with complete peace of mind. Simply take one capsule twice a day as a part of your wellness regime.
Capsules are easy to take on the go, but you can also easily add Shiitake to your diet with a powder such as Gaia Herbs Everyday Adaptogen™. In addition to Shiitake mushrooms, this formula contains Maca, Astragalus, Cordyceps, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Schisandra.
Between managing work, maintaining a home, and having any sort of social life, it's easy to feel fatigued. But this beneficial blend of mushrooms and herbs is a simple way to help you maintain peak performance, as it supports your energy levels and stamina.*
To take Everyday Adaptogen™, simply mix it into your smoothie or a glass of milk. One teaspoon a day will do the trick, so you can easily add this USDA Certified Organic powder to your daily wellness regimen.
That way, you get all of the health benefits of organic mushrooms plus herbs with no added fillers, flavors, or sweeteners.*
Source and Quality
Gaia Herbs sources the mushrooms used in our products from North American Medicinal Mushroom Extract (Nammex). Nammex operates 100% Certified Organic growing and manufacturing operations in Qingyuan County China. This is a remote, mountainous region far from highly populated cities and industrial manufacturing areas, and it is often referred to as the best ecological environment in all of China.
People sometimes question the quality of mushrooms grown in China, but we can assure you that Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest sources for the use of mushrooms for health purposes.
Gaia Herbs chose Nammex as our mushroom provider because their growing conditions are similar to the mushrooms’ natural habitats.
All of our mushrooms are harvested from their growing substrate, never incorporating any of the growing medium into the final product. This results in a 100% organic supplement that, in the case of our new line of mushroom capsules, is 100% mushrooms and nothing else—no fillers, starch, or grains with guaranteed levels of beneficial beta glucans.* Our mushroom powders and herb and mushroom blend formulas are also free of fillers, starch, and grains.
There is no mycelium in our mushroom products either, as we use only mushroom fruiting bodies (the above-ground part of the mushroom). Why? Fruiting bodies have been used for thousands of years in traditional herbal medicine. The concentration of powerful biochemical compounds, such as beta glucans, is highest in the fruiting body versus the mycelium.
If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at our Meet Your Herbs® program. Because we value transparency, we created meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform.
In this program, you can enter the ID number located on the back of any Gaia Herbs product and instantly learn when your product was manufactured and about each herb in your product—where it came from; how it was grown, harvested, and extracted; and see validation of your product’s level of purity and potency.
You can be assured that our products are safely produced without the use of pesticides and other toxins that can damage our bodies and the earth.
Shiitake Mushroom Side Effects and Precautions
Before you start using any herbal supplement, you should consult your doctor, especially if you are already taking medications or have a medical condition. The same rule applies to Shiitake mushroom capsules or powders.
Please be advised that Gaia Herbs mushroom supplements are not formulated or designed to be used during pregnancy or lactation.
Shiitake Mushrooms for Your Well-Being*
This small mushroom is a mighty one. As we’ve seen, it can support immune health and heart health.* So, there’s no doubt that the Shiitake mushroom can benefit your well-being in significant ways!*
And the best part is that it’s easy to incorporate into your day-to-day routine. In addition to cooking it in a variety of dishes, you can also enjoy what this mushroom has to offer by taking a capsule or powder supplement that contains Shiitake mushroom.
Turn to Gaia Herbs Immune Mushroom Blend, Whole Body Support Mushrooms & Herbs, and Everyday Adaptogen™ Mushrooms & Herbs powder and start reaping the benefits of Shiitake mushrooms.*
1. “Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States,” The University of Vermont, accessed on December 15, 2020 https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/ShiitakeGuide.pdf.
2. M.J. Feeney et al., “Mushrooms and Health Summit Proceedings,” The Journal of Nutrition (2014), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056650.
3. Xiaoshuang Dai et al. “Consuming Lentinula Edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 34, no 6. (2015): 478-87, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25866155.
4. P.S. Bisen et al. “Lentinus edodes: A Macrofungus with Pharmacological Activities,” Current Medicinal Chemistry 17 (2010): 2419-2430, https://www.doi.org/10.2174/092986710791698495.