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  /  Health   /  The Definitive Guide to Maitake Mushrooms

The Definitive Guide to Maitake Mushrooms

maitake mushroom

The Maitake mushroom is as beautiful as it is revered. With fronds that resemble feathers, folk medicine that dates back millennia, and modern research finally unravelling its potent therapeutic benefits; earning the reputation as ‘medicinal mushrooms,’ there is much to learn and love about this fungus.

Maitake’s Latin name is quite a mouthful; Grifola frondosa. Also known as hen of the woods, ram’s head and sheep’s head (for its ruminant-like appearance), and, our favourite, the dancing mushroom. Its ability to buoy sequential, rhythmic function in the body and encourage health on multiple levels is noteworthy.

With this said, Maitake mushroom has five health benefits we believe ought to be shouted from the rooftops…

5 key health benefits of the maitake mushrooms

There are five potent perks we’d love to share. Maitake may support a healthy blood glucose level, reduce the risk of heart disease, encourage healthy immune function, cull tumour growth, and promote a happy mood.

1. Maitake mushroom support healthy blood sugar levels

caucasian hand grabbing donuts

Are mushrooms good for diabetics, specifically Maitake?

Over four million Brits live with a diagnosis of diabetes. Type two diabetes is, by far, more common than type one.

As the Diabetes UK’s Facts And Stats report says, “Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not making enough insulin, or the insulin it is making is not being used properly.” 1 The result is a blood sugar (glucose) level that remains too high. The condition may lead to amputation, blindness, dementia, depression, neuropathy (nerve damage), sexual dysfunction, cardiovascular, eye, and kidney disease, and early death 2.

Yet, there are natural ways to reduce a high blood glucose level; diet, exercise, stress reduction, sufficient sleep included. Nature also provides potentially healing substances like those found within Maitake.

It seems the dancing mushroom may contribute to a healthy glucose level. As wayward glucose and insulin levels are linked to a host of health problems, this is a powerful discovery with potential benefits beyond diabetes alone.

  • A 2020 study published in the World Journal of Diabetes found that this fungus has anti-diabetic and hypoglycaemic activities.3 The authors concluded that compounds from the Maitake mushroom appear “to be a safe, natural agent for lowering the serum glucose levels in type 2 diabetic patients and improving their diabetic conditions.”
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS) is often underpinned by insulin resistance. This can halt ovulation. Yet, research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Maitake extract could induce ovulation.
  • Grifola frondosa can increase glycogen storage, improve the clearance of blood urea nitrogen, limit the accumulation of lactic acid, and significantly improve the activity of lactic acid dehydrogenase.5 This in turn supports healthy energy levels in the body.

2. Maitake mushrooms may reduce the risk of heart disease

hand holding red heart shape

As one of the UK’s leading causes of illness and death6, heart disease should be front of mind for everyone.Insulin resistance7, a high blood sugar level and so, Diabetes, are linked to this condition. As we just discussed, mushroom compounds may be of therapeutic value here. So, could Maitake be of benefit for those with heart disease? And if so, in what ways?

As well as calming high blood sugar and insulin levels, this mushroom has reported hypolipidaemic and anti-atherosclerotic effects8. That is, it appears capable of lowering harmful cholesterol levels and protecting against hardening of the arteries.

The possibilities are thought-provoking. It seems that the humble hen of the woods mushroom may defend the heart and blood vessels.

Interested in getting started with supplements containing maitake to promote a healthy heart? Try Cannotech’s Beat Drops to help keep that ticker strong.

3. Maitake mushrooms encourage a healthy immune system response

young white man wrapped in white blanket blowing nose with white tissue in hand - immunity

The past year has pushed interest in the immune system to new heights. But what does the immune system actually do?As the authors of the article, Anti-fatigue Functions and Mechanisms of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms5, said, the immune system must “remember and recognise pathogens and produce cells and secretions to remove them with high specificity.”

The maitake is like the police force; consistently looking for troublemakers and acting to effectively abolish threats.

As this study noted, grifola frondosa activates cells that act as the first line of immune defence, helps to kill foreign invaders and infected cells, and triggers chemical messengers that enable the system to communicate effectively.

This mushroom, then, may help the immune system to function properly. This is important for general health, but also for our next point…

4. Maitake mushrooms have exhibited anti-tumour effects

white woman with bald head covered with pink scarf and black woman with natural hair sitting on sofa

We, humans, are in permanent flux; constantly producing new cells and destroying aged or faulty ones. This process continues from birth until death. When in perfect balance, the human body repairs faultlessly and functions perfectly. But, when malfunctioning cells are no longer culled, abnormal growth of cells can occur. This can result in the formation of a tumour.

Tumours can be benign, or non-spreading. Or they can be malignant, where they may invade nearby and distant tissues. While the former may be troublesome if it develops in the wrong place, the latter is a leading cause of death.

In 2010, China approved the use of grifola frondosa9 as a supplemental therapeutic medicine for the treatment of cancers. What benefits might it possess that led to such a decision?

Research suggests that the dancing mushroom retards tumour growth and reduces spread10, and “boosts the body’s immune system9 and relies on the body’s own immune system to inhibit tumour growth.” It also appears to protect healthy cells.These anti-tumour effects hold much-needed promise.

That said, it is important to speak to your treating physician if you are concerned about tumours. This is not the time to try self-medication, although it is important that you take charge of your health with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

5. Maitake mushrooms have been shown to promote mood stability

happy looking Asian female and male taking selfie - young Asian couple

Would you like more ease in your life? To experience greater calmness, energy, and happiness?

Then this mushroom might be your new best friend.

Depression is a complex condition that’s still little understood. Research suggests there is a decrease in the expression of something called AMPA receptors. But, by reversing this mechanism, supplementation with grifola frondosa has demonstrated antidepressant effects.11

Maitake may offer a little slice of heaven in a fungal fruit.

How Can You Include Maitake Mushroom as Part of Your Health Regime?

Known for its juicy, chewy texture and earthy, spicy flavour; the Maitake makes a wonderful culinary addition to many recipes. Omelettes or pasta, salads and stir-fry’s, soups, or as a hearty replacement for other types of mushroom.

Maitake is delicious

  • baked
  • grilled
  • roasted
  • sautéd

Dried Maitake mushroom is a long-lasting option. Equally perfect in cooking, as above, or in traditional medicines and teas.

Maitake also makes an ideal health-building supplement.

What’s the Right Maitake Mushroom Dosage?

We recommend that you speak to your suitably qualified health professional to find out your best dose. With that in mind, Drugs.com12 suggests

  • 12 to 25 mg of the extract 
  • 200 to 250 mg or 500 to 2,500 mg of whole powder daily

Remember to incorporate this delicious fungus into your meals, often. And if you love a culinary adventure, there are recipes online and tea ideas available.

Here’s a fun Maitake ‘steak’ sandwich how-to video to get you started.

What to look for in the ideal Maitake mushroom?

You’d likely need to be in China, Japan or America to find a wild flourish. So, when in a store, ask the customer service person for their best available Maitake. Most Asian food markets sell them dry.

You can also find Maitake in various form to use in soups and smoothies or to take as a supplement including:

  • powders
  • teas
  • liquid tinctures & drops
  • supplement tablets and capsules

Are There Any Known Mushroom Side Effects?

There is one obvious potential pitfall; growing up to a metre wide and a hefty bulk of 23 kilograms, if you drop a full-size Maitake on an unprotected foot, you will be in a world of pain.

If you take medications to balance an elevated blood sugar level, consuming this flavoursome fungus may drop your blood sugar level too low.

And, as with any therapy, it’s important to confirm safety during pregnancy with your health professional.

For the most part, though, edible mushrooms are incredibly well-tolerated and safe.

The Maitake Takeaway

Maitake mushroom is adored for its wellbeing benefits; it has been for thousands of years. We now know that where modern science meets ancient wisdom, you’ll find this fungus thriving. When we combine a balanced blood sugar level, a healthy heart, enhanced immunity, anti-tumour effects, and a happy mood, with a side plate of deliciousness, it’s easy to see why this mushroom has gained widespread acceptance and adoration. Enjoy!

 

maitake mushroom infographic green icons

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References

  1. https://diabetes-resources-production.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/diabetes-storage/migration/pdf/DiabetesUK_Facts_Stats_Oct16.pdf
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7754165/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21034160/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5584359/
  6. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/articles/leadingcausesofdeathuk/2001to2018
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC380256/#:~:text=A%20simplified%20model%20relating%20insulin,transporters%20or%20intracellular%20binding%20proteins.
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4971090/
  9. https://www.discoverymedicine.com/Yanli-He/2018/04/grifola-frondosa-polysaccharide-antitumor-and-other-biological-activity-studies-in-china/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5955106/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130584/
  12. https://www.drugs.com/npp/maitake.html 

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. This article and our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease; or replace a healthy lifestyle and diet. Speak to your family physician or treating physician if you have any serious concerns about your health before starting a new health and wellness routine.

DO NOT EAT any mushrooms that you are not 100% sure that they are safe for consumption.

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