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The History and Health Benefits of Maitake Mushroom

Maitake mushroom (Grifola fondosa), commonly referred to as the “hen of the woods”, has a fascinating origin story, starting in feudal Japan. “Maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese, and while there are many reasons this mushroom may make you dance with joy, one story stands out to me more than the others. It was said that Maitake was a highly valued commodity in feudal Japan, with the claim that local lords would pay their subjects the equivalent weight of the Maitake presented, in silver. Thus, the name “dancing mushroom” was attributed to Japanese commoners dancing for joy, knowing they would be greatly rewarded for their discovery.

Maitake was so highly valued in Japan, that up until it was commercially grown, there were expert mushroom foragers with secret Maitake harvest locations. They kept their harvest areas, also referred to as “treasure islands”, so secret and secure that they would only reveal their locations via their will after death, to their eldest sons. 

You probably know Maitake as the delicious, woody tasting flavor enhancing addition to common Japanese dishes. With that wonderful taste, comes a range of health benefits.

Maitake Health Benefits

Maitake has demonstrated its ability to contribute to your overall health. It’s a powerful adaptogen, which means that it can help several bodily processes return to homeostasis! For example - studies have shown that it can lower high blood sugar & high cholesterol back to normal, healthy levels. In addition, Maitake has proven itself as one of the most nutritionally rich polypore mushrooms out there. Maitake mushrooms are rich in a number of health-beneficial components, such as beta-glucans, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins B and C, potassium, minerals, and amino acids. These components come together to offer a variety of health benefits.

Immune Support

Maitake - Immune Support

The beta-glucans in maitake assist your immune system. Beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharide, which is a molecule of carbohydrates that affect the immune system. One study researching the immune-enhancing effects of Maitake extracts found that Maitake was very effective in stimulating an immune response. Research suggests that Maitake could be a useful tool in fighting off infection. 


Blood Pressure

Maitake - Blood Pressure

Research points to maitake being a potential aid to the 34% of adults in the United States affected by high blood pressure. An animal based model found that maitake mushroom lessens age-related hypertension. This study also found that regular maitake use could reduce aspects of inflammation, and concluded that the findings suggested the benefits of maitake to lead to a longer and healthier life span. 

Cancer

Maitake - Cancer

Although the studies conducted attempting to research if maitake can assist with cancer have mostly been limited to animal models, the results so far have been promising. Studies have found that the D-fraction component present in maitake to have anti-tumor properties. 

One study in particular found that the beta-glucans extracted from maitake to induce antitumor response in tumor-bearing mice. 

A separate study associated the D-fraction present in maitake to have killed breast cancer cells. 

Although the results of maitake as a potential aid for the prevention and treating of cancer are not conclusive, the results are promising.

Weight Loss

Maitake - Weight Loss

One thing that is universally loved by those who consume maitake is its delectable flavor. Normally you would think this situation would lead to the opposite of weight loss, however maitake is naturally very low in calories, and very rich in fiber. This leads to you feeling fuller. A study researching maitake in regards to weight loss was performed, giving 30 overweight adults daily doses of maitake mushrooms, without changing any other aspect of their diet. The results were quite impressive, with the participants averaging an 11-13 pound weight loss over 2 months. 

Birch Boys and Maitake Mushroom

Birch boys offers a Maitake mushroom tincture. We recommend simply adding 10-15 drops to beverages 2-3 times per day for optimal use of our product. 

Conclusion

If you're looking for a delicious mushroom that you can add to your daily diet, maitake is a great choice. Great as an additive to common food dishes such as stir fry, a quick snack, or in extract form, maitake is an easy addition to your super-food arsenal. 

Sources:

Vetvicka V, Vetvicka J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. University of Lousville, Department of Pathology, Lousville, KY, USA. February 2014. Accessed July 22 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25332990.

Preuss, Harry. Echard, Bobby. Bagchi, Debasis. Perricone, Nicholas. Maitake Mushroom Extracts Ameliorate Progressive Hypertension and Other Chronic Metabolic Perturbations in Aging Female Rats. June 2010. Accessed July 22 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887057/

Masuda, Y. Inoue, H. Miyake, A. Konishi, M. Nanba, H. Oral administration of soluble β-glucans extracted from Grifola frondosa induces systemic antitumor immune response and decreases immunosuppression in tumor-bearing mice. July 2013. Accessed July 24 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23280601

Alonso, Eliana. Orozco, Manuela. Nieto, Alvaroy. Balogh, Gabriela. Genes Related to Suppression of Malignant Phenotype Induced by Maitake D-Fraction in Breast Cancer Cells. July 2013. Accessed July 25 2019.

Ohtsuru, M. “Anti-Obesity Activity Exhibited by Orally Administered Powder of Maitake (Grifola frondosa),” Anshin, 188-200, July 1992.

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