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4 Health Benefits of Maitake

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns please talk to your healthcare provider. This article is underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The maitake mushroom is a type of medicinal fungus with a long history of traditional medicine use. 


The mushroom was initially used in the far east, but has since been used worldwide. The maitake mushroom is often sprouting out of the base of oak trees in the fall and spring seasons in North America, Asia, and Europe. The fungus is known to be rich in fibre, proteins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.


The maitake mushroom is known for its many health benefits, including strengthening immunity, lowering inflammation, and improving cardiovascular health. 


What is the Maitake mushroom? What are some of the benefits of taking Maitake mushroom supplements? Read on to learn more about the maitake mushroom.

What is the Maitake Mushroom?

The word Maitake is Japanese for “dancing mushroom.” As the story goes, people were so entranced by its healing properties that they would dance whenever they found one, hence its name.


True to its name, the maitake mushroom has shown that it does have powerful healing properties, even compounds that benefit mood and relieve stress. Here are four science-backed benefits of taking Maitake supplements:

4 Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms

1. Maitake can help manage blood sugar levels


Insulin resistance is when the body has trouble controlling the amount of circulating blood sugar - the primary symptom of Type 2 Diabetes. As it is, it can get expensive for those with Type 2 Diabetes, mainly if their medications include insulin vials on top of other blood sugar drugs.


Maitake has shown that it could be a viable complementary treatment for those with type 2 diabetes. 


Research has shown taking Maitake can improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients. This can make Maitake a natural alternative to other blood sugar management drugs with no side effects or long-term damage. [1]


The secret lies in how the fungus could boost insulin secretion in the pancreas, allowing the mushroom to control blood sugar levels better even when someone’s diet is a bit excessive and prone to high blood sugar levels. [1]


2. Maitake has anti-inflammatory properties


Chronic inflammation is considered the root cause of many diseases known to humans, so it’s only reasonable to keep inflammation to a minimum. Maitake mushroom supplements may help lower inflammation.


The Maitake mushroom has been cited to lower the enzymatic activity of COX-1 and COX-2, enzymes known to trigger inflammation or at least be factors. This means the fungus can be part of treatments for conditions associated with chronic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and asthma. The overproduction of COX enzymes often causes these conditions. [2]


Maitake supplementation has also been shown to regulate cytokine production. Cytokines are unique proteins that play a massive role in regulating our body’s immune and inflammation responses. [3]


3. Maitake supports a healthier immune system


Antioxidants are known to protect the body from all sorts of harmful environmental toxins. A little-known fact about them is how they’re also in charge of providing the first line of defence in our immune system. It just so happened that Maitake has potent antioxidant properties. 


Because of potent antioxidants found in Maitake, consumption has been linked to healthier and more responsive immune cells. Maitake mushrooms contain large beta-glucans, strengthening NK (natural killer) cells. This way, Maitake improves the body’s immune response against pathogens. [4]


Maitake has also been shown to strengthen T-cell production. T-Cells are more robust versions of the typical white blood cell and only attack the specific antigens they were designed to attack. Because of this, T-cells are one of the most critical parts of immunity against foreign substances. [5]


4. Maitake mushroom has anti-cancer potential


Cancer research has advanced to a point where some experts are now more lenient regarding the use of herbs and other extracts as part of a treatment. The Maitake mushroom also makes a strong case with its ability to reduce cancer cell proliferation. 


Researchers have shed light on how Maitake mushroom intake can fight off cancer-cell growth by reducing mTOR protein activity. mTOR proteins are responsible for cancer cell growth and stimulation. [6]

The Maitake mushroom shows enormous potential in being a potent healing fungus. While the research surrounding Maitake is still in its infancy, current results are promising. 


References:

1. Hong L, Xun M, Wutong W. Anti-diabetic effect of an alpha-glucan from fruit body of maitake (Grifola frondosa) on KK-Ay mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;59(4):575-82. doi: 10.1211/jpp.59.4.0013. PMID: 17430642.

2. Wu JY, Siu KC, Geng P. Bioactive Ingredients and Medicinal Values of Grifola frondosa (Maitake). Foods. 2021;10(1):95. Published 2021 Jan 5. doi:10.3390/foods10010095

3. Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014;2(2):14. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2014.01.05

4. Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Effect of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) D-Fraction on the activation of NK cells in cancer patients. J Med Food. 2003 Winter;6(4):371-7. doi: 10.1089/109662003772519949. PMID: 14977447.

5. Inoue A, Kodama N, Nanba H. Effect of maitake (Grifola frondosa) D-fraction on the control of the T lymph node Th-1/Th-2 proportion. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Apr;25(4):536-40. doi: 10.1248/bpb.25.536. PMID: 11995941.

6. Joseph TP, Chanda W, Padhiar AA, et al. A Preclinical Evaluation of the Antitumor Activities of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: A Molecular Insight. Integr Cancer Ther. 2018;17(2):200-209. doi:10.1177/1534735417736861