- In Oriental medicine it has been used for a wide range of health problems and its curative properties are well attested to in folk medicine (Hobbs, 1995).
- It has been particularly valuable in treating high blood pressure and lowering blood cholesterol.
- The fungus is the source of two well-studied polysaccharide.
- preparations, viz. Lentinan – a cell wall polysaccharide extractable from both the fruit-body and mycelium, and LEM – a protein-bound polysaccharide derived only from the mycelium Both compounds have demonstrated anticancer activity.
- It is believed that such compounds function by enhancing the immune system rather than attacking the cancer cells directly. Such compounds are increasingly used in Japan as adjuvants to help support immune function in cancer patients during radio- and chemotherapy and can prolong survival times in some types of cancer .
- Commercial preparations are available as tablets, capsules, or elixirs, and are extensively on sale in most Oriental countries, and increasingly in the USA and Europe, in natural food/medicine markets. Shiitake extracts more often appear in mixtures blended with Reishi, Maitake and others.
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