Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is a medicinal mushroom traditionally used for improving immune function and aiding digestive health. Studies show Maitake has anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic and cholesterol-lowering properties. Maitake is grouped with the health-promoting mushrooms of shiitake and reishi because of its cell growth and immune stimulating properties, but also because it can be taken at higher doses compared with other medicinal mushrooms. Continue reading as we discuss the health benefits and side effects of maitake mushrooms as well as dosing and safety.
History of the Maitake Mushroom
The maitake mushroom is a type of polypore mushroom that grows in the wild. It is native to Japan, but it can also be found in other parts of Asia as well. The Japanese name for the maitake mushroom means “dancing mushroom” because it supposedly makes you feel like dancing when you eat it!
The maitake mushroom has a large, brown cap that can be up to 15 inches (38 cm) in diameter. It usually grows on the decaying stumps of oak and maple trees. The cap is covered with small pores and is dry in texture. Maitake mushrooms are in season between August and November.
You may be surprised that maitake can grow up to 100 pounds!
Maitake mushrooms can also be eaten, offering a pleasant earthy taste. However, you will see them called hen of the woods mushrooms in grocery stores or on restaurant menus.
Maitake Mushroom Benefits and How Maitake Works
Maitake mushrooms have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as Japanese cuisine. Maitake mushrooms are classified as adaptogens, which are a category of herbs that help the body combat and deal with stress. Considering that stress is a contributing factor to a number of different health conditions, it makes sense that maitake mushrooms are a beneficial treatment for a number of physical ailments. Here are some of the most-researched benefits of taking maitake mushroom:
- Promoting healthy immune function: one study found that maitake mushroom was particularly effective in stimulating healthy immune function. Its benefits were considered stronger when paired with shiitake mushroom extract.
- Reducing cholesterol: one study showed that maitake extract reduced cholesterol in mice.
- Improving blood sugar levels: animal studies have demonstrated that maitake can help to balance blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Active Ingredients in Maitake Mushroom
The main active ingredients in maitake are beta-glucans, which may have positive effects on the immune system. In addition, maitake also contains a number of other bioactive compounds that may provide additional health benefits such as:
- Lentinan: Helps fight infections by stimulating immune cells and increasing antibodies against pathogens
- Polysaccharides: Provide immunomodulating benefits by helping to support optimal function of the immune system
Maitake Mushroom Supplements
Hot water extract yields the purest and most potent maitake supplements. This is done by boiling the mushroom and then straining out the water. This method ensures that more active ingredients make it into your supplement. The remaining extract is dried and used to make capsules or tablets. It is also possible to take maitake mushroom supplements in liquid form, although this is less common. You may also see maitake mushroom extract included in formulas that aid in immune support, usually alongside shiitake mushroom extract.
A typical dose of maitake mushrooms is 1000 mg per day.
"Magic" Mushrooms and Maitake
Maitake mushrooms are known as medicinal, but not magical. Therefore, no they do not possess psychedelic properties, but rather offer health benefits such as the ones outlined in this article.
Maitake mushrooms have been used in Asian medicine for centuries and are considered very safe to use. However, there has been some debate about whether or not these mushrooms could cause any side effects when taken in large quantities. It is recommended that those with mushroom allergies avoid consuming maitake mushrooms or supplements containing their extract. Additionally, it is not recommended that maitake mushrooms be consumed after surgery, or by anyone with a bleeding condition or taking blood thinners.
In conclusion, the maitake mushroom is a potent medicinal food that shows great promise in the realm of natural medicine. This extraordinary fungus boasts some wonderful health benefits and its use in traditional healing systems around the globe is well documented. Highly valued in Japan for its health-promoting properties; modern science is now uncovering the many health benefits maitake possesses, including immune health, heart health and blood sugar management.
What Maitake Supplement is Best?
When searching for a mushroom with potent healing properties, look no further than maitake. To ensure you choose a high-quality supplement, look for one that’s GMO free and organic and doesn’t contain unnecessary additives. Host Defense Mushrooms Maitake are made with organic mushroom mycelium and fruit bodies that are grown in the U.S.A. Many people like this supplement because it’s pure, potent and provides a full spectrum of health benefits. This formula is GMO free and suitable for vegetarians.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.