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Botanical Description & Habitat


Common Names
Snake butter
Pasania fungus
Forest mushroom
Hua gu

Lentinan is derived from the Japanese Shiitake mushroom.

Lentinan is a polysaccharide derived from the Shiitake mushroom. The mushrooms are often found on fallen chestnut, beech and mulberry trees.

Medicinal Parts
Polysaccharide derived from the cell wall of the vegetative part of the mushroom.

Historical Properties And Uses

Lentinan, which is derived from Shiitake, has been used medicinally and as a food ingredient for thousand of years in Japan and China.

Lentinan has been shown to possess anti-tumor activity, immune-regulatory effects, antimicrobial properties, anti-viral activity, and cholesterol-lowering effects.

Method Of Action

Lentinan is a high molecular weight polysaccharide containing only glucose molecules. Lentinan's seems to aid the immune system by activating macrophages, enhancing T-helper cell and killer cell action. It is also thought to affect production and concentration of enzymes, transport proteins, and lymphocytes. It has been noted that lentinan enhances the effects of AZT when used against HIV in vitro.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Lentinan in combination with Didanosine or Zidovudine used in HIV positive patients may enhance drug effects. A study with lentinan and Didanosine showed an increase in CD4 levels in combination, as compared to with just Didanosine.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Studies have shown little toxicity associated with lentinan. The shiitake mushroom from which lentinan is derived, are edible and are not known for significant side effects.

Preparation & Administration

No typical dosage has been reported.


Facts and Comparisons, Natural Products Review, Clinisphere 2.0, Wolters Kluwer Company, 2000.

Gordon M, et al. A placebo-controlled trial of the immune modulator, lentinan, in HIV-positive patients: a phase I/II trial. J Med. 1998;29(5-6):305-30.

Gordon M, et al. A phase II controlled study of a combination of the immune modulator, lentinan, with didanosine (ddI) in HIV patients with CD4 cells of 200- 500/mm3. J Med, 1995; 26(5-6):193-207.

Hoffman, David. The New Holistic Herbal. Element Books Ltd., Third Edition, 1990