Shiitake Mushroom Properties and Benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

One of the most underrated foods with great benefits is the Shiitake mushroom (Chinese name: 香菇).

Do you know that these ordinary-looking mushrooms can help to boost your immunity and strengthen your spleen and stomach? Read on to find out more about its TCM benefits and properties!

The thermal nature of shiitake mushrooms is neutral. This means that people of all body constitutions can consume them without any issues.

Shiitake mushrooms have great benefits for the spleen, stomach and liver:

For the spleen/stomach – It can help to boost and strengthen the spleen Qi. Shiitake mushrooms also helps to improve appetite especially for someone who has just recovered from sickness.

For the liver –  It can help to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar.

For people who are recovering from illness, shiitake mushroom can help them to regain their energy and vitality faster as it has Qi-boosting properties!

Shiitake mushrooms also contain anti-cancer properties, especially for stomach cancer. Thus, it is a very good food to add to your diet if you find that you have a weak spleen or stomach.

There are two types of shiitake mushrooms – fresh and dried.

Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms

fresh shiitake mushroomsNowadays, the fresh type of shiitake mushrooms are commonly available in supermarkets and it is very convenient to cook them as they do not require soaking.

The disadvantage of the fresh type is that they can’t be kept for too long. It is best to cook them on the same day that you bought it (or the next day latest) if you prefer to eat them while it’s freshest.

The fresh type can be used in most dishes like noodle soup, porridge or even stir-fried vegetables.

The following is a porridge recipe that you can use to strengthen spleen and stomach:

Ingredients (for 1 pax):

  • Chinese yam (fresh type): 100g to 200g
  • Shiitake mushrooms (fresh type): 30g to 60g
  • Rice (preferably add some mixed grains): 1/2 cup


  1. Wash and rinse the shiitake mushrooms. Cut them into slices for a shorter cooking time.
  2.  De-skin the Chinese yam and cut them into smaller chunks/cubes.
  3. Wash the rice and bring it to a boil. Note: You will need to add a lot more water here because we are cooking porridge. For me, I add up to 6 cups of water to 1 cup of rice.
  4. Once the rice starts to boil, put in the Chinese yam and shiitake mushrooms. After it comes to a boils again, reduce the fire to the smallest and let it simmer for 15 to 20 mins. Then it is ready to be served!
  5. As I am using thermal cooker, I only let it simmer for 4 mins, then I’ll remove it from the heat and place it inside the thermal pot for one hour before serving. I find that using thermal cooker is much more energy efficient. Instead of having to simmer the porridge on fire for 15mins to 20mins, I just need to let it sit inside the thermal pot for an hour (and it doesn’t even require any electricity or fire to do the cooking)!

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushroomsThe dried type of shiitake mushrooms will require soaking beforehand.

Following is the soaking process:

  1. Wash and rinse the dried shiitake mushrooms.
  2. Soak them in warm water (with their stalks facing downwards) for at least 30 mins to 45 mins.
  3. Remove them from the water and cut them into slices or smaller pieces for cooking.

The best way to enjoy dried shiitake mushrooms is to add them to any herbal soup. You can add the mushrooms together with the soup ingredients and let them cook for 45 mins to 60 mins and you will have a nice and nutritional soup to enjoy with your meal.

You can also try adding shiitake mushrooms into Si Shen soup for added benefits for your spleen!

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