Shiitake mushrooms are now widespread in supermarkets all over the world, both in fresh and dried form. But shiitake are not only a tasty food, they are considered in fact a real medicine. That’s why in chemist’s and herbalist’s shops you can easily find capsules and tablets based on these so special mushrooms. In fact, in addition to proteins, vitamins, especially group B and D, and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and calcium, shiitakes are also a source of particular fibers called alpha and beta glucans. These substances are characterized by an anti-inflammatory action and are useful to modulate the immune system, strengthen the body against infections but also avoid the excessive release of pro-inflammatory substances, or the cytokine storm, which is responsible for severe courses in case, for example, of a COVID 19 infection. And it dates back a few months ago the release of a research that studied the properties of some extracts of shiitake mushroom on the immune system (Shin et al, J Immunol Res, 2019).
Shiitake extracts against viral infections and cellular degeneration
In fact, in 1992 an extract called AHCC was obtained from shiitake mushrooms. This extract results rich in alpha and beta glucans but also minerals. Well, this extract obtained from shiitake has been shown to increase the presence of particular cells of the immune system, the NK or natural killer cells. Nk cells play a primary role in fighting infections and cancers. In fact, the intake of AHCC, in case of influenza A infection, has strengthened the defenses, preserved the integrity and health of the lungs and reduced the time required by the body to remove the virus. Moreover, AHCC has been shown to act against several types of viral infections. In fact, preliminary studies (Smith et al, Front Oncol, 2019) have indicated that these shiitake extracts are able to modulate the immune system in order to remove the Papilloma virus, responsible for warts but also cervical cancers. Not only that, these extracts have also been shown to help slow tumor growth in some types of cell degeneration, such as melanoma.
Shiitake, beneficial but if included in a healthy lifestyle
The shiitake and the extracts obtained from these mushrooms are therefore powerful weapons to strengthen the body from external threats, both of viral origin and in the form of cellular degeneration. However, they must always be seen as part of a healthy lifestyle, which includes moderate physical activity and a varied and balanced diet.