Maitake Mushroom Extract
In other posts, I’ve talked about the maitake mushroom as both a food source and a medicine. In this post, I would like to focus more in particular on maitake mushroom extract, and in particular, some of the studies conducted that provide strong evidence as to the healing effects of this amazing mushroom. But first, a short history.
History of The Maitake Mushroom
The maitake mushroom (grifola frondosa) is commonly known in the West as hen of the woods and sheep’s head. It is found in parts of the Eastern US, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. In ancient times maitake was referred to as the dancing mushroom. This is because whenever one found a maitake mushroom, they would dance for joy because they knew it could be exchanged for it’s weight in silver. It could also be because the multi-tiered caps look like a group of butterflies dancing.
Historical Uses of Maitake
As well as being considered a delicacy, the maitake mushroom was used extensively by Asian cultures as a medicinal herb, often with a combination of other fungi such as cordyceps sinensis. This use dates back many centuries. Maitake was used to boost immunity, and also as a general purpose health tonic.
Maitake Extract-Animal Studies
A hepoprotective (liver protective) effect was found in rats when administered a maitake mushroom extract. It also showed blood sugar lowering effects in rats that were genetically mutated to develop type 2 diabetes. But this was only tested on non-insulin dependent rats.
A maitake mushroom extract was shown to lower blood pressure in rats. LDL (bad) cholesterol levels were also lowered significantly while HDL (good) cholesterol levels remained unchanged.
A maitake extract was shown in both animal and in vitro studies to boost immune function, in particular, an anti-tumor effect. This is probably due to increased natural killer (NK) cell activity as well as increased production of interleukin-1.
A maitake extract has also been shown to benefit animals in the late stages of AIDS. This is no doubt due to the increased immune response mentioned throughout this article.
Human Studies of Maitake
A maitake mushroom extract is being evaluated in clinics in the US for patients with colorectal and breast cancers. In China, a miatake extract demonstrated clear anti-cancer effects in 62 patients with stomach and lung cancers, as well as leukemia. Maitake mushroom extract also showed a significant reduction in side effects associated with chemotherapy.
The maitake mushroom also appears to have benefits for the AIDS patient. Dr. Joan Priestly, MD reports that her patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma and other AIDS symptoms showed improvement when given a maitake mushroom extract. Several other reports seem to back this up, but it should be noted that these were preliminary, rather than controlled studies.
A concentrated extract of grifola frondosa (maitake), was tested on a group of 32 patients with chronic hepatitis B. The maitake group showed a recovery rate of 72% as compared to 57% in the control group. The mechanism behind this is similar to how cordyceps benefits the liver, this is probably due to similar substances that are found in both species.
Hypertension (High blood Pressure)
A preliminary, uncontrolled study was done at the Ayurvedic Medicine Center of New York. 11 Patients with severe hypertension were given 3 500 mg caplets of maitake mushroom extract 2 times daily. Blood pressure was measured weekly for 6 weeks. There was a decrease in systolic, as well as diastolic BP, which was about 7% and 9.4% respectively. The drop was steady and consistent, but it should be noted that this was not a placebo controlled study.
Side Effects and Dosage
No toxic levels have been found and no side effects have been reported. Recommended dosage is 3-7 grams per day.
Though it’s clear that more research needs to be done, I am very excited about the research on maitake mushroom extract so far. But the good news is that we don’t have to wait. Investing in our health today is much better than trying to recover from a debilitating condition. But nobody is going to do it for us. It is our responsibility and ours alone.
Other Healing Mushrooms