Shiitake The Healing Mushroom represents a very good first attempt to bring detailed information about the nutritional and medicinal merits of this exotic Asian mushroom to the general public. According to Mr. Jones, besides tasting sinfully good steamed or sauted in butter and garlic, shiitake has many 'bioactive' compounds that either stimulate, boost, supplement or somehow enhance the disease fighting capability of our immune system.
The book, while relatively small (only about 80 pages of text), is very information-dense and overflows with some thirty pages of scientific, pharmaceutical and medical references. As such, Jones has managed to produce a compact and highly informative text. The book itself is divided into seven chapters with one section each for references and a handy index for future consultation. The first two chapters are devoted to the nutritional value of shiitake and its historical medicinal uses. Four individual chapters detail shiitake's anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, cancer preventing, and anti-viral capabilities. A final chapter elaborates the mushroom's purported ability to alleviate chronic fatigue syndrome.
The first chapter gives information on the nutritional value, cultivation, and history of shiitake. In this chapter the reader learns that shiitake has a long and colorful history in Asia as a culinary and medicinal fungus. The reader also learns that shiitake is high in nutritional value, and that one can cultivate shiitake with ease on a variety of wood and agricultural residues. The second chapter gives the reader a brief review of the medicinal uses of shiitake, both past and present. This chapter elaborates on the surprisingly important role of shiitake in ancient folk medicine. In times both ancient and modern, shiitake has been and continues to be used to treat a variety of maladies ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to hepatitis. The reader is given a brief introduction to the roles that shiitake has played in traditional Chinese medicine and its history as an aphrodisiac and therapeutic agent in ancient Japan. In particular, folk medicinal uses of shiitake focused primarily on cures for the common cold, diabetes and liver ailments. The chapter concludes with a few brief remarks about the safety and preparation of shiitake.
The remaining five chapters tout shiitake's ability to provide relief from a variety of modern day ailments. In short, Jones does not fail to mention shiitake's ability to bring relief to a variety of diseases that afflict those individuals living in wealthy, industrialized nations. On the one hand, it seems that Jones is attempting to use shiitake as a means of offsetting the effects of bad and unhealthy lifestyle choices. On the other hand, throughout the text, Jones seems to be offering up shiitake as a fungal reservoir of a variety of wonder drugs that can cure everything from high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes to viral diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, and herpes.
A lot of the research on mushrooms is conducted in areas of the world where English is not the dominant, or primary language. Thus, much of this research may be inaccessible to those inquiring minds that do not have abilities in languages other than English. As such, one good comment in favor of the author's book is his open admission that much of the research he cites is written in languages other than English, something that many other writers on this subject fail to cite or even admit.
However, there are three major drawbacks to the text. The first is Mr. Jones's many references to animal experiments. Animal experiments, while serving as a good indicator, are in no way conclusive, no matter how great the results were. Many of the experiments he mentions liberally throughout the text were performed on mice, and a few were performed on rabbits. Very few of the experiments were performed on humans. In addition, those experiments performed on humans left much to be desired because the number of trials and participants in each study mentioned sporadically in the text, as well as the way the experiments were conducted were not wholly sufficient to rule out the influence of pure chance. Only trials on humans, conducted in a randomized double-blind manner with a large number of participants, can give a good indication of efficacy. Unfortunately, there have not been any good, randomized, double-blind statistical studies that have explored the question of efficacy. Yet, Mr. Jones must be credited amply for pointing out that until more trials on humans are performed, we can only speculate on the efficacy of shiitake. Another major demerit of the text is its liberal use of scientific sounding terminology- words such as 'immunostimulating', 'immunoboosting', and 'immunomodulating'-that are not properly defined, and are often used liberally without the slightest regard to the knowledge level of the reader. Finally, as a third demerit to an otherwise strong and informative book, a number of anecdotal accounts were used to support the author's claims of efficacy. However, these accounts only served to cast an element of doubt as the reports of cures using shiitake were not only unverifiable but also very difficult to rule out the influence of other agents, including chance, in the affectation of a cure.
The author could have written a much stronger which, among other things, could include a glossary of terms at the end of the book and a conclusion which summarizes the main points of the text and indicates further directions for research and investigation. Nonetheless, Mr. Jones should be rightfully acknowledged for his attempt to present to the general public an important though controversial body of research which potentially could be used for the benefit of all- both sick and healthy.
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Healing Arts Press; Original ed. edition (Nov. 1 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0892814993
- ISBN-13: 978-0892814992
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.8 x 19.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 358 g
- Customer Reviews: 6 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,680,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
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