Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Did You Know that a certain type of mushrooms have health benefits and are shown to be a powerful fighter of cancer and AIDS?

Over the past few centuries, the shiitake mushroom has been hailed as an amazing botanical wonder with medicinal properties. The countless health benefits of mushrooms have been supported by research and clinical trials conducted worldwide for many treatments involving cancer and the immune benefits of mushrooms

The shiitake mushroom grows on the wood of dead deciduous trees. Its medicinal use dates back to the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644), and it was used not only as a delicacy but as a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness, and to boost energy.

The flavorful mushroom was also believed to prevent premature aging.

Most of the formal studies concerning shiitake mushrooms health benefits have been conducted in Japan. Japanese studies have shown that an ingredient of shiitake, an activated hexose-containing compound (also known as 1,3-beta glucan) has anti-cancer properties in humans as well as in animals.

Ever since the shiitake mushroom has been shown as a possible treatment for cancer and HIV infection, researchers in the U.S. and other countries have begun formalized studies of the mushroom’s medicinal properties.

Back in 1969, researchers at Tokyo’s National Cancer Center Research Institute discovered a compound that they named lentinan. They found that mushrooms grown on logs have higher levels of lentinan than mushrooms grown on other types of organic material.

Lentinan is a compound isolated from the shiitake mushroom, which is used as an intravenous anti-cancer agent in some countries.

Lentinan possesses anti-tumor properties, and human clinical studies have linked it with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life, and lower re-occurrence of cancer. Cancers that have responded well to lentinan include colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, gastric cancer and cancers of the stomach.

Even the City of Hope National Medical Center is currently conducting clinical trials to determine if the shiitake mushroom can inhibit lung cancer.

Shiitake mushrooms have also shown great promise in the fight against HIV . In some studies, the extract from shiitake mushrooms has proven to be more effective in eradicating HIV than azidothymidine (abbreviated to AZT, the first antiviral treatment to be approved for use against HIV).

In a 1998 study done in San Francisco, it was found that patients with HIV infection who were given lentinan together with AZT maintained higher CD4 cell counts for longer periods of time than those who were given AZT alone.

Proven Shiitake Mushroom Health Benefits

Research has also demonstrated that the shiitake mushroom has the following therapeutic effects:

  • Immune system booster
  • Blood pressure control
  • Contains a cholesterol-reducing amino acid known as eritadenine which, according to Japanese studies, lowers cholesterol levels by as much as 25% in one week.
  • Possesses anti-bacterial, anti-candida and anti-viral properties (including anti-HIV and Hepatitis B)
  • Blood sugar moderator
  • Sexual potentiator
  • Stress reducer

Once merely a staple of Asian households, the exotic shiitake mushroom has gained favor among the taste buds of Americans and people all over the world.

These mushrooms health benefits are now easily available in many supermarkets across the U.S. throughout the year. Shiitake mushrooms can be stir-fried or added to teas, soups or rice dishes.

For the best therapeutic results, many herbal medicine practitioners recommend taking extracts or concentrated forms of shiitake mushrooms at doses of 1 to 3 grams, 2 to 3 times daily.
These products are available at health food stores and retailers of herbs and nutritional products.