Could Shiitake Mushroom Be the Key to Beautiful Skin?
Reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, chaga…there’s a lot to love about these top four functional mushrooms. Perhaps you’ve been left wondering about the many benefits of the other fungi out there.
After all, with a species count bordering on the millions — and plenty of edible mushrooms in the mix — the fungi in your mug of Mushroom Coffee and in the produce section of your local market barely scratches the surface.
We all have our favorite mushroom…but with such a large kingdom, have you been wondering, “What else is out there? What else could support my health more, and better?”
Sometimes the “new new” health food has been sitting right under our noses this whole time.
So what’s this mystery mushroom I speak of?
‘Shroom fan, meet the powerful shiitake.
I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t shiitake mushroom just a stir-fry ingredient?”
While I’ll agree with you (they’re pretty darn tasty), shiitake are more than their delicious flavor. Because of their culinary joys we easily can lump them together with white button mushrooms, but they can do much, much more.
The History of Shiitake Mushrooms
The use of shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes, formally Lentinus edodes) dates as far back as AD 100 in China, where it was used to treat a variety of ailments. Shiitake mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to increase circulation.
Its common name came from Japan. In Japanese, “shii” refers to the tree Castanopsis cuspidata where it often grows. “Take” means “mushroom” (think: mai-take, enoki-take). Shiitake mushrooms grow primarily in their native habitat of East Asia, where they’ve been cultivated on hardwood trees for centuries.
Nutritional Benefits of Shiitake Mushroom
Vitamin D in Shiitake Mushroom
Most mushrooms contain some amount of ergosterol. This is a precursor to vitamin D that can be converted in the human body. Mushrooms are one of the only foods that contain ergosterol naturally[*].
When mushrooms are exposed to UV light, they naturally convert ergosterol into vitamin D2. The length and amount of UV light greatly affects the final amount of D2[*}.
When exposed to sunlight, shiitake’s levels of vitamin D actually increase[*].
Wild-harvested mushrooms have higher levels of vitamin D2 than those in farms[*].
Shiitake Mushroom for Beauty
We’ve all heard that beauty comes from the inside, right? When it comes to shiitake’s potential to support liver function, that statement couldn’t be more true — a happily functioning liver often equates to glowing skin.
The vitamin D, plus shiitake’s antioxidant properties, has been shown to help support the liver in mice[*].
In fact, one of the most powerful examples I’ve seen of shiitake’s potential to support glowing skin comes from a young teenage celebrity, who was suffering from a particularly bad breakout (something that would stress any of us out, let alone a public figure).
After trying his hand at all kinds of treatments with no luck, in dire need he began taking 1500 milligrams of shiitake extract. After about a month, his skin had cleared up considerably, and after several months, his pimples disappeared. (Of course, every person is unique. I recommend that you speak to your health care professional about whether this may work for you).
Shiitake in Four Sigmatic Products
Though shiitake is a tasty recipe ingredient, if you’re looking to capture all the benefits of this mushroom, it should be taken as an extraction or in supplement form. This guarantees the best bioavailability of the most important properties of the mushrooms. I don’t recommend eating shiitake mushrooms raw!
Quality matters. While most commercially-grown shiitake mushroom extracts are grown in grain or sawdust, the best quality and most potent shiitake are log-grown. Since shiitake grows naturally on hardwood trees, the shiitake used in Four Sigmatic products is wood-grown.
This pure shiitake mushroom extract is made by extracting the fruiting body of the fungi. The result is free from fillers and carriers. You can find shiitake mushroom in our 10 Mushroom Blend (160mg shiitake mushroom extract) and Mushroom Golden Latte with Shiitake & Turmeric (500mg organic shiitake mushroom extract)
Shiitake is one of the most widely cultivated fresh mushrooms in the world. It’s second only to the white button mushroom and found in almost all grocery stores. You can buy fresh shiitake, dried shiitake, or shiitake extracts in powders or capsules.
Extracts do make shiitake super user-friendly for you. Try mixing a spoonful of our 10 Mushroom Blend into your morning coffee or smoothie, or try out the recipe below.
It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Superfood Nut Butter Toast by @Flora_and_vino
1 tsp. 10 Mushroom Blend
2 Tbsp. nut butter of choice
1 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
Optional: granola, hemp hearts
- Mix 10 Mushroom Blend and nut butter together (adding maple syrup, if using) until well combined.
- Spread on toasted bread and top with granola and hemp hearts, if using.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Shiitake Mushroom Broth
There’s no better base for soups and stews than a mushroom stock. Shiitake has glutamate, the amino acid responsible for the deeply savory umami flavor[*] Use dried shiitake or 10 Mushroom Blend for a more concentrated flavor, and mix in sauteed onions and carrots, and a dose of salt for a deliciously savory broth. I love it as a base for miso soup or ramen dashi.
Have a shiitake recipe that you love? Post it on ‘Shroom Club so we can all learn from you!