Healing with Shitake
Mysterious almost, in the way they appear overnight. In the way they nourish themselves from we might consider dead matter. In the way they extract nutrients from trees. Fungus. Fleshy, between the realm of animal and plant, offer strength and courage. Superstitiously unavoidable or denied, they are ancient and once associated with immortality by those fortunate enough to consume them. Mushrooms, not of the psychoactive type, that ancient shamans and priest once used, or the poisonous ones that we have been forewarned about, but of the edible Asian variety, acclaimed for their healing powers and used in cuisines everywhere making shitake mushrooms amongst the most cultivated edible mushrooms in the world.
Being that shitake mushrooms, much like black rice, were denied to the general populace at one point in time, it’s a privileged to pair them in a simple but highly nutritious dish. Having known Shitake and worked with her healing magic for many years, I have found many creative ways to incorporate them in my cuisine. However, shitake mushrooms are not only a great food source, being that they are immune enhancing, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-tumor, they are also used in many herbal remedies. They are generally used to treat heart disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and other viral conditions, even AIDS.
Shitakes are also high in vitamin D, particularly the dried variety, my preference, attributed it’s amazing flavor and higher medicinal quality. Once reconstituted in water, the “broth” can be used to bring vitality to soups, stews and stir-fries. In my previous blog, Honoring the Solstice by Feeding the Pineal, I talked about the role of vitamin D, particularly found in sun-dried foods, putting dried shitake mushrooms on the list of brain foods that stimulate the third eye chakra. It is rich in amino acids, notably, glutamine, a brain food that stimulates neural activity and the transport of potassium to the brain.
Along with the nutritional excellence and sensory experiences of shitake, there is, as with any other plant, a vibrational quality that adds to its influence. Each plant, like us, is governed by a ruling planet and come with esoteric properties that lends to its magnificence. Shitake mushrooms are of a lunar energy and is of the water element. Water makes up at least 80% of shitake mushrooms body, close enough to the human body…to work wonders for us.
“Energetically: Oriental Medicine believes that healing Mushrooms, remove
dead decaying matter from the forest floors, just as in the energy fields of our
own body-minds. Mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake are the
stars of the mushroom realm, they also convert our own metabolic and psychic
wastes, transforming our stagnant or festering emotions and negative feelings,
offering the opportunity to raising the spirit and freeing the mind toward more
These factors, as well as the simplicity and flexibility in preparation are reasons enough to
incorporate shitake mushrooms into our diet. Shitake mushrooms, chopped finely, are a great addition to sauces and marinades, mixed with beans for extra protein power, or in a taco or burrito as a substitute for beans. Combined with black rice, kale and sesame seeds, you not only have a supremely delectable meal, but one that will meet all the body and spirit’s nutritional needs.
Make a friend of it, align with its force and she will surely invite you into her world of healing. In the words of George Washington Carver, “anything will reveal it’s secret if you love it enough.” Experiment, experience and enjoy!