Everything You Should Know About Maitake Mushroom

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on October 31, 2016Written by Emily Cronkleton on October 31, 2016
maitake mushroom

What is maitake mushroom?

“Maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese. The mushroom is said to have gotten its name after people danced with happiness upon finding it in the wild, such are its incredible healing properties.

This mushroom is a type of adaptogen. Adaptogens assist the body in fighting against any type of mental or physical difficulty. They also work to regulate systems of the body that have become unbalanced. While this mushroom can be used in recipes for taste alone, it’s considered to be a medicinal mushroom.

The mushroom grows wild in parts of Japan, China, and North America. It grows at the bottom of Oak, Elm, and Maple trees. It can be cultivated and even grown at home, though it typically won’t grow as well as it does in the wild. You can usually find the mushroom during the autumn months.

Although maitake mushroom has been used in Japan and China for thousands of years, it has only gained popularity in the United States over the last twenty years. People are praising this mushroom for its promises of health, vitality, and longevity.

What health benefits are tied to maitake mushroom?

Compared to other mushrooms, maitake has shown better results in preventing and treating cancer and other health conditions. Maitake also has a positive effect on overall immunity.

Maitake mushrooms are rich in:

  • antioxidants
  • beta-glucans
  • vitamins B and C
  • copper
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • minerals
  • amino acids

The mushrooms are also:

  • fat-free
  • low-sodium
  • low-calorie
  • cholesterol-free

Scientists are currently studying the unique way the mushroom supports overall health and fights illness.

What the research says

Laboratory research suggests that maitake may be effective in treating certain illnesses. More studies are needed to confirm its effect on humans, but the current findings are promising.

Cancer

A 2013 study indicates that maitake D-Fraction could be useful in preventing and treating breast cancer. Researchers suggest that this mushroom can fight the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells.

Maitake mushroom has been shown to suppress tumor growth in mice. It can also increase the number of cells fighting against the tumor. This suggests that it could also be effective in managing cancer in humans when taken orally.

An earlier study found maitake D-Fraction, which is an extract, to be efficient in killing human cancer cells. It was taken alongside a protein that also fights cancer and succeeded in increasing the protein’s effectiveness.

Learn more: Beta glucan: The heart hubby fiber »

Cholesterol

Researchers in a 2013 study found that maitake powdered extract lowered cholesterol levels in mice. It was also shown to increase fatty acids that provide energy. Because of this, researchers theorized that eating maitake mushroom may help keep arteries healthy.

Type 2 Diabetes

The results of a 2015 study showed that maitake mushroom can have a positive effect on rats with type 2 diabetes. During the study, maitake mushroom consumption had a positive effect on glucose levels of rats. This points to the mushroom’s potential to treat type 2 diabetes in humans.

Maitake mushroom may also be useful in treating:

  • cold and flu viruses
  • high or low blood pressure
  • immune function
  • side effects of chemotherapy

How to add maitake mushroom to your regimen

If you’re using maitake to boost your health, you can add it to any food in which you would normally add mushrooms. It can be added to stir-fry, salad, pasta, pizza, omelets, or soup. You can also fry the mushrooms in butter or grill them. Maitake has a strong, earthy taste, so be sure you enjoy its flavor before adding it to a large amount of food.

If you’re buying maitake fresh, buy it whole to increase its shelf life. Store it in a paper bag in the refrigerator. You may be able to find it dried at some grocery stores. It freezes well, so you can keep it in stock if you are able to find it fresh. You can also freeze it raw.

Maitake may also be taken as a liquid concentrate or in dry form in capsules. If you decide to take it as a supplement, look for maitake D-Fraction, which is an extract of the mushroom.

The correct dosage depends your age, weight, and health. It also depends on the actual strength of a particular brand of supplement. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before use.

Always check with your doctor before taking a high dose, and monitor your reactions carefully. If you begin experiencing any unusual symptoms or discomfort, discontinue use and consult your doctor.

It may take a few weeks or months for you to feel a noticeable difference. Taking it with vitamin C is said to increase its benefits.

Risk factors to consider

Maitake is digestible as long as the mushroom is not too old. If older, the mushroom’s toughness can make it difficult to digest. Cooking the mushroom can improve its digestibility.

Although allergic reaction and upset stomach is uncommon, it’s possible. More often than not, maitake mushroom is well tolerated.

If you have diabetes, you should consult your doctor before ingestion. Maitake may have an effect on your blood sugar. It may also lower your blood pressure, so be sure to discuss your options with your doctor if you have hypotension.

You shouldn’t ingest maitake mushroom within two weeks of surgery or if you have a bleeding disorder.

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or have an autoimmune disease, check with your doctor before use.

The bottom line

Maitake shows enormous potential for healing. There are no guarantees, but the possibilities are promising. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you wish to add this to your diet or take this as a supplement. They can go over the potential risks and benefits, as well as help advise you on the best option for you.

In general, you should:

  • Look for 100 percent extract with no fillers. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting.
  • Do your research and only buy from a company who provides you with sufficient information about the product.
  • Take special care if you are using it for diabetes or blood pressure. Be sure to check in with your doctor for approval or guidance.
  • Remember that maitake can affect people in different ways.

You should also support your immunity and overall health by taking care of your well-being, both mentally and physically.

Keep reading: Preventing cold and flu »

CMS Id: 112098