Natures pharmacy video ~ Shiitake appendix & resources

Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is native to Asia and is found growing wild in the mountainous regions of China, Japan, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Records of mushroom cultivation date back around 2000 years. 'Wu san Kwung , who is credited with working out how to grow shiitake mushrooms in China around the year 1000, is commemorated with an annual feast day, and temples throughout the country are dedicated to his achievements' Merlin Sheldrake -Entangled Life.

In nature, Shiitake spores are released from fruiting bodies (i.e. mushrooms) in the autumn or spring, traveling through the forest they fall on trees, fallen branches and logs. The Shiitake spores take over the wood and build a mycelial network which will produce more fruiting bodies made from tightly bound together mycelium.

Cultivation involves using a substrate which is the growing medium where the mushrooms first establish themselves as mycelium and use the substrate as a food source to produce their fruiting bodies. Shiitake can either be grown on fresh cut logs or a sawdust block.

Fresh cut logs after innoculating with spores take about a year to fruit but the log will continue to fruit biannually or more for three to four years.

Sawdust blocks are relatively easy and much quicker than using natural logs taking about 3 months to fruit. and produce about 4 flushes with a short rest between each one. The yield is high but a few argue the earthy taste is slightly less than shiitake grown on a log. Commercially this is becoming the preferred method.

Substrate & spawn
You can find out all about cultivation as well as source mushroom growing supplies from

Mushroom grow kits
If the process of spawning your own substrate is a step too far for you, but you really want a harvest of fresh shiitake, you could always start with a simple grow kit prepared by a mushroom specialty company.

Learning resources

Medicinal Mushrooms - The essential guide - Martin Powell 2013
Entangled Life - Merlin Sheldrake 2020

Mushrooms - Roger Phillips 2006
State of the Worlds Fungi - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 2018

Mycelium Running - Paul Stamets 2005

Shiitake supplements

Fresh & dried shiitake mushrooms

Make your own extract

This is how to make a shiitake extract, of course the digestive system will make a pretty good job of extracting the beneficial compounds so eating shiitake on a regular basis would be as good as making an extract However it is a great idea if you have a glut of homegrown shiitake.

Fill a litre kilner jar halfway with dried shiitake mushrooms.

Fill jar with vodka making sure it completely covers the mushrooms, but leave about an inch space at the top of the jar. Securely fasten the lid.

Sit in a cool dark place for a month shaking daily.

Strain the mushroon-infused alcohol through cheesecloth into a measuring jug note the volume then bottle and set aside.

Bring 2 litres of filtered water to a boil, turn down the heat, add the mushrooms from the alcohol mix and simmer gently for 1 -2 hours until the volume of water has evaporated to 10% of the volume of your saved mushroom alcohol.

Cool then strain the mushrooms through cheesecloth saving the mushroom-infused water. Combine the mushroom water with the reserved alcohol to make your mushroom extract - bottle and store in a cool dark place.

Add the left over shiitake mushrooms to a soup.

Other mushrooms to use medicinally

  • Lions Mane has anti- inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. This mushroom supports brain health, improves mood and helps to maintain focus. Has potent anti-microbial activity
  • Reishi is anti-inflammatory with a wide range of health benefits. Reishi supports the liver, helps overcome fatigue, soothes digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome
  • Cordyceps enhances immune response to viral infection. Improves stamina, supports diabetes, and improves liver function.
  • Maitake supports the immune system and has been used to improve the health of AIDS patients. Maitake regulates blood sugar levels of diabetics and may reduce hypertension

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