The maitake mushroom has gained a lot of notice lately. For centuries it has been sought out in the wild for it’s many health benefits as well as it’s delicious flavor. Now it is also widely available in the form of a maitake mushroom extract. Which ever form you choose, you really can’t go wrong with this tremendous mushroom.
Maitake Mushroom Overview
The maitake mushroom is also known by it’s Latin name (grifola frondosa). The term maitake is Japanese and means “dancing mushroom.” Some people say that this is because in ancient times, people danced with joy after finding this mushroom because it could be exchanged for it’s weight in silver. Others say this is because of the fact that fruiting bodies overlap each other and resemble butterflies in a wild dance. It is also referred to as hen of the woods and sheep’s head.
Small overlapping fan shaped caps with stalks are often fused together occurring at the base of stumps and on roots. Maitake mushrooms are common in parts of the Eastern United States, as well as Europe and Asia.
Maitake Mushroom-Historical Uses
Maitake collectors in Japan typically mark their hunting ground with hatch marks on trees to deter others from harvesting the area. Even so, maitake foragers would typically hunt alone and not disclose the location of their treasure to anybody, even their closest family members. Fortunately, in 1979, cultivation practices were established that now make the maitake mushroom more widely available.
The maitake mushroom was used mainly by the Japanese for it’s immune boosting properties. And like cordyceps sinensis, it was also used as a general health tonic. And also let’s not forget that it was prized for culinary reasons as well. This is still the case today as maitake mushrooms are available in many high end Asian restaurants.
Maitake Mushroom-Medicinal Uses and Health Benefits
A maitake mushroom extract is being studied in medical clinics in the US for the treatment of breast an colorectal cancer. These studies correlate very closely with the studies involving cordyceps benefits for anti-cancer and anti-tumor activity. In China, a grifola frondosa (maitake) extract showed a significant anti-cancer effect in 63 patients with stomach, lung, hepatocellular cancers as well as leukemia.
The capsule was given orally, three times a day (four capsules), before meals for 1-3 months. The result was a severe decrease in the severity of chemotherapy side effects. And animal studies have provided a lot of evidence linking maitake to anti-cancer and anti-tumor activity. Increased immune response is likely linked to the increase in interleukin 1 and natural killer (NK) cell activity. If you’ve noticed the similarities between this, and the results of the studies regarding how ganoderma benefits the cancer patient, just keep in mind that they are related species.
Hypertension (High Blood pressure)
An uncontrolled, non-randomized study was conducted at the Ayurvedic Medicine Center of New York. 11 volunteers with severe, documented hypertension were given 3 500 mg capsules of maitake mushroom extract 2 times daily in the morning and evening. Blood pressure was measured daily for 6 weeks. There was a steady decrease in blood pressure that averaged 9.4%.
It should be noted that all of the above mentioned studies were not placebo controlled. But the preliminary results are very exciting, and I would love to see more in depth research being done. But since the compounds in the maitake mushroom aren’t patentable, I feel this may be unlikely.
There is no known toxic dose or side effects known for the maitake mushroom (grifola frondosa).
Preparation and Dosage
3-7 grams per day in the form of a supplement, in a tea, or cooked in foods.
Even though more research clearly needs to be done, there is a significant amount of evidence for the many health benefits of the maitake mushroom. And given the fact that there are no side effects from this “food,” I think this one could be a no-brainer everybody. It is our responsibility to invest in our health today, after all, nobody else is going to do it for us.
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