Maitake mushrooms, also known as “Dancing Mushrooms” and “Hen of the woods” are loved by gourmet chefs around the world. It has a subtle earthy flavor and some even describe it as tasting “like shrimp”.
Maitake mushroom has been harvested for hundreds of years, especially in Japan. Maitake means “dancing mushroom” because the Japanese were said to dance when they found it since it was worth its weight in silver.
Nowadays, people seek the mushroom, not only for the wonderful flavor but for the health benefits as well.
Maitake mushrooms are full of bioactive polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are a type of carbohydrate. One of the more widely studied extracts taken from the maitake is called the “D-Fraction”. This extract comes from the fruiting body and fungal mycelium and has been widely studied and shown to have significant health benefits.
One of the extracts taken from the maitake mushroom and studied is called “alpha glucan”. It is taken from the fruiting body of the mushroom. This exact was tested on mice with type 2 diabetes and was shown to have anti-diabetic effects. These mice in this study lost weight and decreased their level of fasting plasma glucose, serum insulin, and cholesterol in the liver, which just means, made diabetes better. It was also shown to have a protective effect on the cells of the pancreas.
Studies were also done showing that maitake also has antibacterial properties. The study was done on mice who had listeria (a type of bacterial infection that comes from uncooked edible food, that can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea, etc in humans). The mice treated with the D-fraction extract were still alive and 60% better on the 10th day. The mice untreated unfortunately had died by the 3rd day. This suggested that there might be benefits of using the D-fraction extract in patients who are at high risk of bacterial infections.
Slowing Cancer Growth
The D fraction extract has been shown to be a potent immunomodulator. Meaning it can modify the immune system. This is very helpful in treating some cancers and helping reduce or slow down cancer cell growth. When given to mice in the study it was shown to inhibit the growth of tumors by 88% compared to the control group that did not receive the mushroom.
Preventing Cancer Development
The D fraction extract was also studied to see if it could prevent cancer development in healthy cells. One group of mice was given food with a known carcinogen added. While the other was given the same food with the carcinogen but also included the d fraction extract. After 60 days the liver was looked at to see the amount of tumor growth. The group without the extract had 100% tumor growth, while the other group with the extract only had less than 10%.
Full of Vitamins
The maitake mushroom is full of key vitamins. It includes iron, niacin, vitamin b1, vitamin b2, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and potassium. This makes it very beneficial as a supplement. Ancient medical text of the Japanese said it was taken to “boost qi” also known as “life energy”.
Improve Ovulation in Women
An extract of the maitake mushroom was studied on women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). PCOS symptoms include irregular or missed periods, infertility, pain, and a host of other symptoms.
The study was done at a center in japan on 80 women. It was compared against a pharmaceutical drug that is known to help with ovulation.
The woman given the pharmaceutical drug had a 92% ovulation rate, while the woman given the extract had a 77% ovulation rate.
The women with the extract did not report any signs of complications associated with it, while the women given the pharmaceutical drugs had side effects like hot flashes, mood swings, and conceiving twins.
The polysaccharides and vitamin d in the maitake mushroom have been found to function similarly to hyaluronic acid. When used on the skin it has been shown to increase blood circulation, hydrate, help with acne, and reduce the effects of aging.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, maitake was used for cleansing the spleen, draining moisture from the body (diuretic), toning the kidneys and liver, and calming the mind. Taking Maitake as a supplement can have added benefits to your health and overall well-being. Not only is it a delicious addition to many dishes but it has dozens of benefits.