Shiitake (Xiang Gu)

Botanical Name: Lentinus edodes

Shiitake mushrooms, spelled with two “i’s,” have a long history in the kitchen and as a medicinal herb. They have a rich, savory taste and are included in many culinary recipes. The compounds in shiitake help fight cancer, boost the immune system, and support overall health. Full of nutritional value, the mushrooms are an excellent addition to your daily diet.

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Shiitake vs. Red Meat.

Below is an overview of shiitake, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of shiitake.

How to take FULL advantage of Shiitake's healing powers...

Shiitake (Xiang Gu)

JOIN ME in an exploration of the healing herb, Shiitake (Xiang Gu). Explore the benefits and applications of Shiitake, from Eastern and Western perspectives, and so much more!


Western Name: Shiitake​

Also Known As: Black Forest, Chinese Black, Oriental Black, Golden Oak Mushroom

Organs/Systems: Immune, Cardiovascular, Digestive

Key Actions: Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-aging, Antimicrobial

Medicinal Uses: Lowers blood cholesterol, diabetes, colds, flu, hardening of the arteries, hepatitis B, herpes eczema, cancer (especially breast and prostate), stomach ache, dental plaque, HIV/AIDs, prostate or breast cancer, manage blood sugar levels, cardiovascular disease, fungal infections.


Pin Yin: Xiang Gu​

Also Known As: Dong Gu (translates as “Winter Mushroom”), Hua Gu (translates as “Flower Mushroom”)

Meridians: Spleen, Stomach, Lungs

Key Actions: Tonifies Qi, Nourishes Blood, Dries Damp, Tonifies Wei Qi

Medicinal Uses: Colds and flu, gout, nutritional deficiencies, measles, poor circulation, hemorrhoids, headaches, constipation, high blood pressure, prostate or breast cancer, heart disease, herpes, chronic fatigue, weight loss, viral infections, fungal infections, bacterial infections, improves skin, acne scars, longevity, anemia, arthritis, osteoporosis, lowers cholesterol, builds strength, boosts immune system function.

Basic Habitat / Botany:

Spores are released from fruiting bodies in the fall or spring, and land on both live and fallen tree limbs. Healthy trees will resist the spores, but fallen and dead limbs will be taken over by the spores where they will build a mycelial network that produces fruiting bodies. The above-ground part of the mushroom is what is foraged and harvested. The mushrooms are tan to dark brown, with caps that grow between 2 to 4 inches.

Shiitake mushrooms are native to the hardwood forests throughout East Asia, especially those found in central China. Over 80% of all shiitake cultivation is from Japan, the U.S., Canada Singapore, and China.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Fruiting Body​

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral

Caution: Considered safe. Very few people may develop a skin rash from eating or handling the mushrooms.

Key Constituents: Polysaccharides (specifically Beta-glucans and Lentinen), Eritadenine, Kojic acid, Fiber, Protein, Riboflavin, Niacin, Copper, Purine, Vitamin B5, Selenium, Manganese, Zinc, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin D, Amino acids, Terpenoids, Sterols, Lipids

History/Folklore: The cultivation of shiitake mushrooms began in the 12th century in the mountains of central China. In Chinese historical writings, they are considered an elixir of life. Shiitake mushrooms contain a similar amino acid profile to red meat and are a good substitute for those who prefer plant protein, especially when combined with other vegetable protein sources.

The Japanese have extensively researched the shiitake mushroom revealing its nutritional and immuno-supportive properties. Shiitakes are unique for a plant as they contain all eight essential amino acids, including the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. Linoleic acid helps with weight loss and building muscle. Writings from 199 AD describe a Japanese tribe bringing shiitake mushrooms as a gift to the Japanese emperor.

The beta-glucans found in shiitake mushrooms are known to support the immune system and heart health. They are known to improve circulation and counter inflammation. The compound eritadenine inhibits an enzyme that is involved in the production of cholesterol. Beta-glucans are a type of fiber that can help to lower cholesterol. The sterols block cholesterol absorption in the gut. These compounds can help treat obesity by reducing plasma lipid (fat) levels. The mushrooms can help prevent body weight gain and fat deposition.

Shiitake mushrooms have a long history of use in the medicinal traditions of China, Japan, Korea, and Eastern Russia. In China, they are used to boost health and promote longevity. Research suggests that consuming shiitake mushrooms improves cell effector function and improves gut immunity helping to improve overall immune function. Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular ingredients in Chinese cuisine. Two high-grade shiitake mushrooms are known as Dong Gu (translates as “Winter Mushroom”) and Hua Gu (translates as “Flower Mushroom”).

Shiitake mushrooms are antiviral and antibacterial helping to prevent colds and flu and even supporting the treatment of HIV patients.

The mushrooms help strengthen intestinal flora.

The high levels of vitamin B in shiitake mushrooms can help support adrenal function. A deficiency in vitamin B can also cause fatigue, brain fog, and lower cognitive function. Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins.

Shiitake mushrooms are also one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, which is important for bone health, and heart health, reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer, and auto-immune diseases.

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Did you know?

Second Most Cultivated Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms are the second most cultivated mushrooms in the world. The first most cultivated is Agaricus bisporus, commonly referred to as the Button Mushroom.


Good Source Of Fiber

Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of dietary fiber.

Fun fact!

39% Of Daily Copper

Shiitake mushrooms contain 39% of your daily minimum copper requirement. They are the fourth-best source of copper after sesame seeds, cashew nuts, and soybeans.

Take FULL advantage of Shiitake (Xiang Gu)!

Connecting Eastern and Western perspectives on HOW and WHY this herb works. Find out how to safely and effectively use this healing herb for treating conditions and for your Body, Mind, and Spirit. Find True Health. Explore uses, safety information, benefits, history, recipes, gardening tips, essential oil information, if it applies, and much, much more in this online course.

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ATTENTION: All material provided on this website is for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional or physician. Redistribution permitted with attribution. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Whole. Be Free.

ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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