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What Is Maitake Mushroom Good For?

Superfoods, adaptogens, immune boosters… the alternative medicine market is flooded with promises of longevity, happiness, and improved wellbeing - but how can we be so sure it’s not all a wasted investment?

maitake mushroom

Maitake mushroom is attracting a LOT of attention.

From claims of cancer-fighting properties to reduced blood pressure, it’s no wonder so many of us are adding this famed fungus to our daily diets.

So, is Maitake worth the hype, or is it just another false promise?

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CONTENTS:

  1. What Is Maitake Mushroom?
  2. What’s In Maitake Mushroom?
  3. Maitake Mushroom: The Key Health Benefits
  4. How Do You Take Maitake Mushrooms?
  5. Does Maitake Cause Side Effects?
  6. Final Thoughts

What Is Maitake Mushroom?

Maitake mushroom (or Grifola frondosa) was first discovered more than 2,000 years ago by Japanese woodcutters and Buddhists. It is a medicinal mushroom that has had thousands of years of use in traditional Asian medicine cultures.

In Asian medicine, it has been traditionally used as an immune booster, and it’s also thought to help treat various other conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

Maitake is native to North America and northeast Japan, and it can even be found growing in the UK.

Maitake mushrooms or ‘hen-of-the-woods’ usually grow between early fall into late November - forming thick clusters with distinctive flattened brown caps and a white edge. Maitake tends to grow around the base of oak tree stumps and sometimes around dead or dying trees.

Unfortunately, the maitake fungi are short-lived and don’t stick around for long. When they first develop, they emit a pleasant aroma, however, this odour quickly turns sour once fully mature.

As such - Maitake mushrooms are best foraged while they are tender and young - when they’re mature, they tend to have a more bitter taste and a pungent scent.

What’s In Maitake Mushroom?

These mushrooms are considered potent adaptogens and have been a trusted natural remedy for centuries.

So, what compounds of the Maitake mushroom make it so special?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that helps us to absorb and retain minerals such as phosphorus and calcium, which are essential for keeping our bones, muscles, and teeth in good shape.

Vitamin D can also support our immune function and lower our risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms like muscle twitching, muscle weakness, fatigue, bone pain and fragility, joint stiffness, and even cardiovascular and neurological conditions.

Phosphorus

Maitake is also a strong source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is an important mineral for the human body, and its main function is to help form teeth and bones.

However, phosphorus can also help us to filter out any excess waste in the kidneys. It can also generate proteins that help repair our tissues and cells.

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Potassium

Potassium occurs naturally in most foods, and its role in the body is to maintain normal fluid levels in our cells. Potassium can also help keep our blood pressure steady and help our muscles to contract.

Hypokalemia, a low potassium level in the blood, can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, adrenal gland disorders, paralysis, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Beta-Glucan

Beta-glucans are sugar compounds that can be found in fungi, bacteria, yeast, oats, and barley. Beta-glucans are a substantial source of soluble fibre.

These naturally occurring polysaccharides play an essential role in maintaining human health, and it’s believed that these compounds contain anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, and anti-hypercholesterolemic properties.

These immunomodulating agents help our bodies fight off disease and keep us healthy.

Maitake Mushroom: The Key Health Benefits

maitake mushroom health benefits

Maitake mushrooms contain an abundance of some of the most essential vitamins and minerals for human health and longevity.

So how exactly can this benefit your health, and what illnesses (if any) can Maitake treat?

Let’s see what the science has to say.

May Kill Cancer Cells

Early studies have found that extracts of Maitake mushroom may help treat breast cancer. The research found that Maitake may potentially help fight the reproduction and growth of cancer cells, however, more research in this area is needed to confirm this.

One animal study published in 2013 also found that the Maitake mushroom may suppress the growth of cancerous tumours in mice. This study also found that Maitake mushrooms can help increase the number of cancer-fighting cells in the body.

Could Help Lower Cholesterol

If you’re looking to keep your cholesterol in check, maitake may be here to help.

Researchers discovered that powdered Maitake extract notably lowered the cholesterol levels of mice while increasing the number of fatty acids that provide us with energy.

This suggests that taking Maitake mushrooms may contribute to healthy arteries, but again, more research is needed to confirm this.

May Help To Treat Type 2 Diabetes

In one 2015 study, maitake mushroom was found to positively affect the glucose levels of rats with type 2 diabetes. This study also indicated a number of immunomodulatory effects as well.

However, much more human research and clinical trials are needed to confirm its efficacy in human patients.

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May Reduce Blood Pressure

Incorporating the Maitake mushroom into your diet may help reduce blood pressure.

For example, one animal study performed in 2010 found that Maitake notably reduced blood pressure and even helped increase insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.

The study was conducted over 4 months and showed a general decline in a number of hypertension markers, however, this again is an animal study and not necessarily indicative of the effects it will have in humans.

Other Benefits Of Maitake Mushroom

As well as lowering our cholesterol, beta-glucans may bind to receptors that help improve the symptoms of immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Research has shown that Beta-glucans may also promote the activity of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which improve our immune response.

There are a number of other potential benefits that have been anecdotally reported for centuries in traditional medicine, however, the clinical research is currently very limited.

These benefits may include:

  • Treating enlarged ovaries
  • Reducing the signs of aging
  • Promoting weight loss
  • Improving gut flora
  • Protecting the body from cell damage

We for one are excited to see more and more human studies emerge on the maitake mushroom.

How Do You Take Maitake Mushrooms?

how do you take maitake mushroom

Maitake mushroom is generally available in several forms -including capsules, powder, and liquid extracts.

We prefer to take Teelixir's Maitake powder as it’s got a great earthy taste and is super easy to quickly mix in with coffee, tea, smoothies and cooking.

There is no ‘defined’ dosage for maitake mushroom - most manufacturers recommend starting out with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per day for the first week and noticing how your stomach and body respond to it. If you aren’t having any kind of negative reaction, you are likely safe to move up to 1 tsp per day if desired

Below is a list of dosages that have been used effectively in clinical trials and research, with little to no reported side effects:

  • 18mg of Maitake extract for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • 3mg of Maitake twice a day for boosting immune function
  • 40-150mg of dried Maitake extract for cancer patients

Note: We always recommend consulting a medical professional for advice before taking any alternative supplements such as Maitake.

Does Maitake Cause Side Effects?

Maitake mushroom is generally considered as very safe for most people, however, may cause adverse reactions in those with a sensitivity to mushrooms.

Some reported side effects of Maitake ingestion include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps and bloating
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rashes
  • Swelling

There is also evidence to suggest that Maitake may interact with other drugs.

One report suggested that Maitake interacted with widely prescribed blood-thinner, warfarin. Maitake also lowers blood pressure and should be avoided by patients taking drugs for these conditions.

Again, side effects are very rare, but always consult your GP{ before taking maitake mushroom for the first time, and if you experience any adverse effects - stop immediately.

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The Bottom Line

While the clinical research on Maitake is currently still limited, early studies show real promise. Also, let's not completely discount the thousands of years of consistent use in ancient cultures to treat a wide range of issues and ailments!

With a low price tag, minimal side effects, and science to back its efficacy, the Maitake mushroom is a great one to go to as a ‘general health’ mushroom.

Whether you want to improve your immunity, reduce your blood pressure, or even up your daily dose of vitamin D, Maitake can be a worthwhile addition to your daily regimen.

Get an up-close look at the ‘hen of the woods’ in the video below with none other than the mushroom man himself - Paul Stamets!



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