Maitake Mushrooms | What Are They and How Can They Help?

Medicinal Mushrooms have been used to promote better health for thousands of years. Mushroom varieties, like turkey tail mushrooms and even psilocybin mushrooms, are well-known for their incredible health-promoting benefits. The maitake mushroom is no different. Not only is it full of nutrients and tastes delicious, but it also boasts some amazing health benefits.

Not only is it full of nutrients and tastes delicious, but it also boasts some amazing health benefits.

The Latin name for maitake mushrooms is Grifola frondosa. But they are also known by several other names, including hen of the woods, the signorina mushroom, kumotake (cloud mushroom), and more. They’re native to the mountain forests of Northeastern Japan, where they gained the name “Phantom mushroom” due to their rare presence. However, they can also be grown in China and the United States.

What Are Maitake Mushrooms?

Maitake is a type of edible mushroom from East Asia, which is now widely cultivated around the world for its medicinal and nutritional values. People use it to support immunity, stress response, and liver function, while modern medicine suggests it has exciting anti-cancer potential.

“Maitake” originates from Japanese and means dancing mushroom. It was first discovered more than 2,000 years ago by a group of Buddhist nuns and woodcutters in Japan. Apparently, elated by the sight, taste, and medicinal properties of this unique mushroom, they danced around with happiness – hence the name.

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The maitake mushroom is a kind of adaptogen. Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that help the body fight against any type of physical or mental difficulty. They may also help to regulate bodily systems that have become unbalanced. While maitake can be used in recipes for flavor alone, it’s also considered to be a medicinal mushroom.

Maitake mushrooms are commonly found in clusters at the base of oak, elm, or maple trees and can grow to over 100 pounds, gaining them the coveted title “king of the mushrooms.” They have a unique, frilly appearance, delicate texture, and an earthy flavor that works well in several dishes, like burgers, stir-fries, and more.

What Are the Maitake Mushroom Benefits?

This frilly, feathered mushroom is often consumed as a food in Asia, and the extract is available in dietary supplement form. It’s also used to make medicine. Although the maitake mushroom has been used in China and Japan for thousands of years, it’s only garnered popularity in the U.S. over the last twenty years. People are praising this supplement for its promises of vitality, health, and longevity.

The maitake benefits are quite extensive, especially when compared to many other mushrooms. They’re rich in antioxidants, vitamins B and C, fiber, potassium, amino acids, and minerals. Additionally, they’re also fat-free, low-calorie, low-sodium, and cholesterol-free. 

Maitake Health Benefits

Maitake mushrooms are often said to boost the immune system and, subsequently, fight certain infections. Here are some of the most popular health benefits of maitake.

  1. Balances Blood Sugar

When maitake mushrooms are consumed as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet, they may help stabilize blood sugar levels. This means that they could help minimize the risk of developing diabetes, as well as side effects caused by high levels of blood sugar, like headaches and blurred vision.

One animal study done in Japan showed that administering maitake mushrooms to rats with diabetes improved blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance.

  1. Boosts Immune System

Research suggests that maitake may be the most effective immune-supportive mushroom of all. Immune system health is essential to overall health because it acts as a natural defense system for the body and helps fight off foreign invaders, thereby protecting the body against infection and injury.

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Maitake mushrooms are one of nature’s most potent sources of beta-glucan polysaccharides, also referred to as “biological response modifiers” because of their ability to activate the immune system.

  1. Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Although more research needs to be done, some studies suggest that maitake mushrooms may help naturally lower cholesterol levels to keep the heart healthy. For instance, an animal study published in the Journal of Oleo Science found that maitake mushrooms were effective in reducing cholesterol levels in mice.

  1. Anti-Cancer Effects

In laboratory research, scientists have discovered that maitake extracts could slow the growth of certain tumors. By stimulating activity in immune cells, maitake is believed to help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. A 2018 study found that a component of beta-glucan (called the D-fraction) could have anti-tumor activity.

However, scientists have yet to prove that maitake has any cancer-fighting effects in controlled clinical trials.

  1. Could Help the Body Combat Stress

Since these mushrooms are adaptogenic, they could help the body fight off stress more effectively. However, it’s important to note that the jury is still out on adaptogens. The research so far is limited, and its efficacy on human health is unclear.

Maitake Mushrooms Supplement Options

If you want to consume maitake mushrooms regularly for their benefits but aren’t keen on the taste, there are several maitake supplement options. Just bear in mind that supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that if you do opt for a maitake supplement – like any of the ones listed below – it’s important to do your research first.

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Maitake Mushroom Tea

Maitake mushrooms are typically used in Japanese cuisine because they go well with other foods, but they are also an excellent option for mushroom tea. They have a sweet taste that is fruity and spicy, but also earth and nutty, of course.

Maitake Mushroom Powder

For fast absorption, maitake powder can be added directly into hot tea, coffee, or your favorite nut milk. It can also make for a great addition to your morning smoothie, raw desserts, baked goods, and more.

Maitake Capsules

If you’re really not a fan of the maitake flavor, then capsules may be the best option. Pure maitake capsules offer an easy and convenient way to add this powerful medicinal mushroom to your daily nutritional intake.

Final Thoughts on Maitake Mushrooms

So far, maitake mushrooms have demonstrated enormous potential in the world of health and wellness. Although there are no guarantees, the possibilities are very promising. From the potential to balance blood sugar, boost the immune system, lower cholesterol, and combat stress, the maitake mushroom benefits are impressive.

Maitake mushrooms are a great source of nutrition, making them very valuable for overall health.

Additionally, maitake mushrooms are a great source of nutrition, making them very valuable for overall health. Generally speaking, consuming maitake every day could be considered a bit of a health boost for the entire body since every system and organ needs a variety of nutrients to function well. Sure, it’s being touted for its potential health benefits, but we shouldn’t forget that maitake mushrooms were originally used thousands of years ago as a nutritious and delicious food.

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