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Find a guide to the health benefits of maitaken mushroom.

Health Benefits of Maitake: A Magical Medicinal Mushroom

Medicinal mushrooms, including the maitake mushroom, are among the most compelling and interesting areas of holistic and functional medicine right now. The maitake mushroom contains a compound called beta-glucan, which can help improve heart health, improve the function of the arteries, lower blood pressure, and reduce bad cholesterol levels. Maitake can also potentially help with digestion and maintaining a healthy weight, boost immune function, and reduce blood sugar levels. These edible mushrooms have beneficial compounds for metabolic health.

Below, we talk more about the many health benefits of the maitake mushroom and what you should know before you try it as a supplement.

Maitake Mushroom and Its History

Maitake mushroom is also known as Grifola frondos and referred to as the hen of the woods. Maitake means dancing mushroom, and it comes from people in Japan who, throughout history, would reportedly jump for joy when they’d find maitake.

For thousands of years, maitake has been considered a superfood and has medicinal value. We currently see it used a lot in supplements, but it can also be used in cooking, and it’s a centerpiece of many Japanese recipes.

The healing medicinal properties of maitake have long been known as powerful. This mushroom is an adaptogen, which can help the body regain balance for mental or physical challenges. Adaptogens like the hen of the woods mushroom can help regulate any system of your body.

The maitake mushroom grows wild in China, Japan, and North America. It’s often found at the bottom of Elm, Oak, and Maple trees, and some people cultivate it and grow it at home, but it grows better in the wild.

It’s only in the last two decades maitake has gained popularity in the United States, even though it’s been used for thousands of years in China and Japan.

Maitake grows like a shelf at the base of trees, especially oaks. Maitake can grow up to three feet wide and weigh up to 50 pounds, although most are closer to 10 pounds.

The Nutrition of Maitake Mushroom

The health benefits of consuming maitake mushrooms come from their nutritional value. For example, they contain protein, fiber, and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. Maitake is rich in vitamin C, minerals, amino acids, and beta-glucans. There are also some amounts of copper and antioxidants, plus these mushrooms are low-calorie and fat-free.

What Are the Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms?

The following looks at maitake mushrooms’ most interesting and exciting health benefits.

May Kill Cancer Cells

In mice, maitake has been found to suppress tumor growth, and it may help your body’s natural immune response fight against breast cancer cells.

More specifically, a 2013 study found a maitake extract could be useful for preventing and treating breast cancer.

The beta-glucan in maitake may be why targeting and destroying cancerous cells is beneficial. In some studies, maitake combined with vitamin C is especially potent.

In an older study, maitake mushroom improved cancer symptoms or led to cancer regression in more than 58% of liver cancer patients and almost 69% of breast cancer patients. It helped 62.5% of lung cancer patients. When the maitake mushroom powder was used in addition to chemotherapy, it improved immune function against cancer even more.

In a study of 10 patients who had advanced cancer, maitake, or more specifically, the D-fraction it contains, slowed cancer progression, reduced tumor markers, and boosted the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, which fight tumors.

In China, doctors already use D-fraction as a complementary drug for cancer, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute has acknowledged the mushroom has immune-stimulating and anti-cancer benefits.

Along with the direct anti-cancer benefits, maitake is thought to promote healthy bone marrow function. That healthy immune function can help reduce some of the side effects of conventional cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy.

Boosts Immunity

There’s quite a bit of evidence to show that maitake mushrooms’ health benefits are their ability to stimulate the immune system, and that’s likely why it has benefits for cancer.

There’s something in maitake called MD-fraction that appears to have some of the most significant health benefits.

D-fraction in maitake can boost the production of lymphokines which are protein mediators, and interleukins, and both improve your immune response.

Type 2 Diabetes

In studies on rats, maitake mushroom has been found to have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and during one study, consuming this mushroom positively affected rat glucose levels. Several animal studies show that D-fraction could reduce blood glucose, insulin resistance, or both.

There aren’t as many clinical human studies, but in one small of one of six people with type 2 diabetes, taking maitake capsules for two to four weeks led to significant decreases in fasting blood glucose. One of the six patients gained complete glycemic control, and none of the study participants experienced adverse effects.

Promotes Fertility

When women have polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, it’s a hormonal condition with many health risks, including infertility.

An early study found that maitake mushrooms could be beneficial on their own for PCOS or when combined with conventional medicine.

In this study, after three months, the women taking maitake on their own had a fertility rate of nearly 77%. Interestingly, 15 subjects in the study didn’t respond to either the maitake mushroom supplements or traditional medicine on their own. Still, when the two were combined, 100% of the failed mushroom group ovulated, and 75% of the failed traditional medicine group experienced ovulation.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol can raise the risk of serious health conditions, including stroke and heart attack. In studies, mostly with animals, taking maitake daily seemed to lower cholesterol levels.

Reduces Blood Pressure

In numerous studies, maitake mushroom has been found to have anti-hypertensive benefits.

Supports Healthy Aging

So-called magic maitake, along with generally supporting overall health and wellness and potentially combatting cancer, can also reduce signs of aging and cellular damage.

Because of its high antioxidants, maitake can refresh old or damaged skin. It may stimulate the growth of new cells and help promote the healing of damaged skin.

Maitake also supports your body’s oxidation and inflammatory responses, which are part of healthy aging.

How To Consume Maitake Mushrooms

Maitake is edible and delicious. The flavor is often described as woodsy and mild, similar to eggplant. You can include it in pasta recipes, soups, and stews.

One of the most common ways to use it in cooking is to find maitake mushroom recipes for bolognese sauce. There are some healthy and delicious maitake mushroom recipes available online.

One of the easiest ways to cook with maitake is often to find it dried because finding them fresh isn’t always easy.

It’s not always easy to source fresh maitake to cook with; in that case, you might consider a supplement.

Three of our favorite supplements are detailed below.

Host Defense Maitake

It’s hard to argue that Host Defense is one of the world’s best medicinal mushroom supplement companies. Their maitake supplement is no exception. It has excellent customer ratings, is certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and is made with U.S.-grown maitake mushroom extracts, mycelium, and fruitbodies.

Host defense is one of the leading brands for other mushrooms, and they also have a maitake mushroom powder supplement in capsules. This supports the immune system, and the so-called dancing mushroom can also help lower blood pressure. These edible muhsrooms have health promoting properties including helping cancer therapy and boosting natural killer cells.

Mushroom Wisdom Maitake D Fraction Pro 4X

This particular maitake supplement has been used in clinical studies. It’s more expensive than other options, but it’s an excellent product with a lot of research to back up the benefits. This supplement is made in the U.S. and is a professional strength tincture with active D-fraction.

Maitake mushroom extract has benefits for cancer, immune health and blood pressure. Maitake mushroom benefits may also include helping with PCOS.

Real Mushrooms Organic Hot Chocolate Mix

This hot chocolate gives you a lot of mushroom power. It contains five functional mushrooms. Along with maitake, the blend includes reishi, turkey tail, chaga, and other shiitake mushrooms. It’s an organic cacao powder. The product makers measure the beta-glucans levels in each bag to ensure you get all the power and immune support of functional mushrooms.

Maitake mushrooms, also known as dancing mushroom, are included in this hot chocolate blend. Along with maitake mushroom extract this contains chaga and turkey tail. This product supports healthy blood glucose levels, boosts immune function, strengthens immune cells, and more.

How to Take Maitake Mushroom

If you’re going to use a supplement to boost your immune system, based on studies, an effective dosage is around 3 mg/kg twice a day. That means if you were an adult who’s 70 kg, you might take 420 mg of maitake extract a day.

For cancer, in studies, patients usually receive extracts of 40 to 150 mg a day, and they also often consume dried mushrooms, ranging in dosage from four to nine grams.

If you have PCOS, according to available studies, an effective dose might be around 18 mg of maitake extract a day.

The mushroom is available as a liquid extract product, known as a tincture. You can also find the dried extracts as capsules or bulk powders; some are standardized to contain 30% of D-fraction.

Side Effects of Maitake

One of the many great things about functional mushrooms is that they’re broadly considered safe. For example, you can eat these mushrooms to get the benefits.

Maitake is generally well-tolerated for most people, with rare side effects reported as an upset stomach or allergic reaction.

If you have diabetes, you need to talk to your healthcare provider before trying the mushroom. It can lower your blood sugar and blood sugar pressure, so if you’re on prescription medicines, be aware.

You shouldn’t take this mushroom within two weeks of surgery, and you should probably avoid it if you have a bleeding disorder.

Final Thoughts

Maitake is an excellent medicinal mushroom with powerful benefits for immune health and anti-cancer properties, and it can also help with high blood pressure and blood sugar. As a dietary supplement, it can promote cardiovascular health. This functional mushroom can easily be used in pasta dishes and other recipes, or you can use a liquid concentrate or another type of supplement. Maitake is delicious and healthy if you’re considering cooking with it instead of using it as a supplement. There are a lot of reasons it’s called the magic maitake.

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