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History and Origin

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) were first cultivated in Asia over 1000 years ago and were used to increase energy, extend longevity and promote overall vitality. Shiitake mushrooms contain the polysaccharide, lentinan.

The mannentake or reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is one of the most studied botanical treatments studied in Asia.

Activity, Properties and Chemical Structure

Recent research has revealed that both shiitake and reishi mushrooms are rich in vitamins and amino acids. They also contain a variety of polysaccharides. Other substances contained in these mushroom extracts include triterpenes, proteins, lipids, phenols and cerebrosides. (Sliva). A recent Chinese clinical study also revealed that the phenols in reishi mushrooms have free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity. (Mau).

Oxidative Stress

A unique mushroom complex, including a mixture of shiitake and mannentake mushrooms, has been shown to provide multiple benefits to photoaged skin. Natural Shiitake Complex was tested in vitro for its ability to reduce free oxygen radicals into a less reactive form. Natural Shiitake Complex showed a moderate anti-oxidant capacity (IC50= 35.3µg/ml) in dismuting the highly reactive superoxide radical. Out of 8 mushroom extracts tested, Natural Shiitake Complex was the only one that exhibited this activity.


Skincare Applications

Formulations containing Natural Shiitake Complex can help improve cell turnover to help diminish signs of aging.


  • Nebus J, Costes F, Wallo W, Miller D. Clinical improvements in facial photoaging with topical treatments containing mushroom extracts. Poster presented at:American Academy of Dermatology 65th Annual Meeting. Washington, D.C. Feb. 2-6, 2007.

Further Reading

  • Chang HM, But P. Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica, Vol. 1. 1986; Singapore: World Scientific.
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