Black Mushroom Health Benefits

Black mushrooms are also called shiitake mushrooms. They have been utilized for their health benefits in traditional Asian healing systems for centuries, and more benefits are becoming apparent as more research is done. You can find black mushrooms sold under other names including forest mushroom, oak mushroom and pasania fungus. Consult your doctor before using black mushrooms medicinally.


Nutritional Health Benefits

A 3.5-oz. serving of raw black mushrooms provides you with 3 g of fiber, 7 g of carbohydrates, 35 calories and 2.2 g of complete protein. Black mushrooms contain 18 amino acids, iron, niacin and B vitamins. Niacin helps break down food so the body can assimilate it. It is also critical for nervous system function. Iron helps the body form red blood cells. B vitamins benefit the immune system’s ability to attack toxins, viruses and harmful bacteria, and they also assist the body in metabolizing food.

Disease-Fighting Health Benefits

Lentinan, a type of sugar, is the most important therapeutic and beneficial constituent of black mushrooms. A study published in a 2009 issue of “International Immunopharmacology” reports that the lentinan in black mushrooms may prevent malarial infection. In addition, “The Journal of Nutrition” featured a 2011 study that highlighted lentinan as a possible arthritis preventative. Scientists studying lentinan as a treatment for mouth cancer found it effective when used with chemotherapy, as noted in a 2010 issue of the “International Journal of Oncology.” Do not substitute black mushrooms for conventional cancer treatment.

Health Benefits According to Traditional Asian Medicine

The 5,000-year-old traditional Chinese medicinal system uses black mushrooms for high cholesterol, atherosclerosis and as a tonic to benefit your overall health. Traditional Japanese medicine employs black mushrooms to treat parasites, circulatory disorders, heart conditions and exhaustion.

Considerations and Safety

A 2010 article in “Archives of Dermatology" reports that if you inhale black mushroom spores in an enclosed environment, they can cause asthma. Japanese researchers were the first to describe a skin rash called “shiitake dermatitis” in a scientific journal. If you are sensitive to lentinan, you can develop a skin rash on your torso, arms and legs. This rash usually develops one to two days after ingesting raw or semi-cooked black mushrooms.

  • “Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies for Modern Ailments”; Georges M. Halpern, M.D., Ph.D.; 2002
  • “The New Healing Herbs”; Michael Castleman; 2010
  • “International Immunopharmacology”; The Shiitake Mushroom-derived Immuno-stimulant Lentinan Protects Against Murine Malaria Blood-stage Infection by Evoking Adaptive Immune-responses; Zou Lian-di, et al.; April 2009
  • “International Journal of Oncology”; Effects of Lentinan Alone and in Combination with Fluoropyrimidine Anticancer Agent on Growth of Human Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Vitro and in Vivo; Koji Harada, et al.; September 2010
  • “Archives of Dermatology”; Flagellate dermatitis. Shiitake Dermatitis (Toxicoderma); C. Girard, et al.; November 2010.

Photo Credits:

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or