Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Abstract and key points
- Shiitake is an edible mushroom used for medicinal purposes.
- Lentinan, a beta-glucan is the suggested key component. It is thought to exhibit indirect anticancer effects by activating innate immune effector cells.
- There is some evidence from a meta-analysis that lentinan in addition to chemotherapy could prolong survival in patients with stomach cancer.
- Shiitake is well tolerated when used in medicinal doses but allergic skin reactions can occur.
Shiitake is one of the best known and best characterized edible mushrooms. Commercial preparations are available as preserved whole fruiting bodies or extracts of fruiting bodies or mycelia. Shiitake preparations contain polysaccharides (alpha- / beta- homo- and heteroglycans), proteins, nucleic acids, trace minerals, vitamins and provitamins, polyphenolic compounds, and other secondary plant metabolites.
The suggested key component for the alleged anti-cancer effects is lentinan, a polysaccharide belonging to the beta-glucans which are found in the cell walls of the fruiting bodies and my-celia. Lentinan does not exhibit direct cytotoxic effects on cancer cells but has potent ability to activate innate immune effector cells such as monocytes, macrophages and NK cells.
There is limited evidence that lentinan, given in addition to chemotherapy, could prolong survival in patients with advanced stomach cancer.
Shiitake preparations are usually well tolerated, however, there are several reports of Shiitake dermatitis, a characteristic erythematous reaction to lentinan.
CitationMarkus Horneber, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/CAM-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Shiitake-Lentinula-edodes. August 4, 2011.
Summary first published in August 2011, authored by Markus Horneber.
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