From treating diabetes and obesity to fighting cancer, maitake is exceptionally beneficial. However, to enjoy these benefits of maitake mushrooms, you need to use maitake at the proper dosage. For this reason, this article will explore the benefits, side effects, and dosage of the maitake mushroom.
By the time you reach the end of this detailed guide, you should know how the ingredients in the maitake mushroom supplement can change your life. Are you ready? Let's start by figuring out what maitake mushroom is.
What Is Maitake Mushroom?
Maitake mushroom, or Grifola frondosa in Latin, is an edible mushroom with both nutritional and medicinal properties. The mushroom grows in dying or dead hardwood trees, particularly maples and oaks.
It is a very distinct-looking tan-brown-to-gray mushroom. Also known as hen-of-the-woods, the cluster of mushrooms resembles the ruffled feathers of a hen sitting in the forest.
Maitake mushrooms are native to the temperate forest of Europe, the eastern part of North America, and China, typically found from late summer to early autumn.
The word maitake means "dancing mushroom"(1) in Japanese. According to folklore, the name resulted from people dancing when they found the mushroom.
Maitake is a major culinary mushroom in Japan and China, where it has been consumed for many centuries. It is held in high regard, even used as currency in the Japanese feudal era.
Read More: Planning on using mushrooms in cooking? See the best Lion's mane mushroom recipes.
In the last 30 years, much scientific research has focused on Maitake mushrooms' benefits. This article will explore up-to-date Maitake mushroom health benefits, its uses, how to consume it, and if it has any side effects.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Maitake Mushrooms?
Maitake mushrooms can treat:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Cancer and side effects of chemotherapy
Hen-of-the-woods mushroom's main component is the polysaccharide beta-glucan. Other bioactive ingredients like polysaccharide fractions (D, MD, MZ, and X) are also present in the mushroom. Additionally, maitake is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fibers, vitamin D, and minerals (potassium, phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, and Sodium).
Read More: See the maitake mushroom nutritional benefits.
The different bioactive compounds isolated from the mushroom are attributed to the following Maitake mushrooms benefits:
1. Maitake Supercharges Your Immune System
Our body's immune system needs the right balance to function correctly. Maitake mushrooms can regulate the immune system.
Many studies have examined the ability of Maitake mushroom extract to modulate immune responses(2). Scientific evidence shows that Maitake mushrooms can alter the immune system's response to any threat. The body can fight threats and diseases more efficiently with an improved immune response.
Beta-glucans—one of the major components or ingredients in maitake extract—are found to significantly stimulate defense reactions in the body(3). They are considered activators of immune responses and have been highly sought-after immune-boosting natural products throughout human history.
The D fraction of the Maitake mushroom activates the Natural Killer (NK) cells(4).NK cells control several types of microbial infections by preventing their spread and subsequent tissue damage.
NK cells also limit or exacerbate immune responses according to the body's needs. The stimulation of NK cells by Grifola frondosa extracts also plays an essential role in fighting off other foreign substances from the body, including cancerous cells—this gives maitake the cancer-fighting and prevention benefits. As part of the maitake mushroom benefit, the Natural Killer cells also hold the potential to control autoimmune disorders.
To further boost your immunity and positive reaction towards disease-causing organisms, maitake extract activates macrophages and neutrophils(5), two white blood cells that devour microorganisms. They also lead to the production of cytokines(6). These are substances secreted by cells of the immune system which control the growth and activity of immune cells.
2. Helps Control Inflammation
Maitake mushrooms inhibit two significant inflammation mediators (TNF and interleukin).
The maitake's stimulatory actions on macrophages also play a crucial role in the control of inflammation. Macrophages are indispensable players in(7) inflammation and can regulate inflammation after destroying harmful substances. They also help in wound healing and maintaining homeostasis in the tissue following an injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a prolonged inflammatory condition in which the immune system attacks the joint. It leads to significant joint pain and inflammation and is a source of great distress to many people.
Agaroglycerides and ergosterol are two major anti-inflammatory compounds(8) that have beneficial effects against pain and inflammation in animal models. The finding of the 2012 study indicates that the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of the maitake mushroom can be utilized as an alternative medication for inflammatory pain.
Another study reported that the mycelium of the Maitake mushroom inhibits cyclooxygenase(9) (COX). Inhibition of COX is one of the mechanisms by which non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) exert their potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Grifola frondosa extracts have shown a significant reduction in inflammatory markers(10) even in healthy people given daily for just 12 days.
According to a research study conducted in 2019(11), if the underlying cause of the inflammation doesn't go away or specific control systems meant to stop the process fail to function, the inflammation may become chronic.
Chronic inflammatory responses can lead to cell proliferation and mutation, frequently fostering the conditions for cancer growth. Using maitake reduces chronic inflammation and lowers the risk of tumor development and growth.
3. Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Under Control
Maitake mushroom has anti-diabetes effects, which have been reported in quite a few studies. Maitake mushrooms keep your blood sugar levels in the healthy range.
In one study, the alpha glucan extracted from the fruiting body of maitake was given to animal models of type 2 diabetes(12).
Changes in body weight, levels of glucose in the blood, and the amount of glucose stored in the liver were noted. Following the administration of maitake, there was a significant decline in body weight and blood glucose levels.
In many cases of type 2 diabetes, a significant factor for the increased blood sugar level is tissue resistance to insulin. Many anti-diabetes medications fail to achieve the expected levels of efficiency when there is insulin resistance. While some may be able to control blood sugar, they come with many potential side effects.
Grifola frondosa is a safe and natural alternative to treat insulin-resistant diabetes. Some reports suggest maitake may, to some extent, enhance insulin sensitivity(13) and weaken insulin resistance.
Read More: What to see other mushrooms that aid diabetes treatment? See Lion's mane diabetes benefits.
It is important to note that one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes is obesity. An article published in 2017 by the National Library of Medicine(14) showed that obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Luckily, maitake facilitates weight loss.
4. Fights Malignant Cancer Cells
The active ingredients in maitake play a significant role in the fight against cancer. Polysaccharides in the mushroom show potent antitumor bioactivity during chemoprevention and treatment.
Maitake mushrooms help people undergoing cancer treatment avoid the side effects of regular cancer treatment methods, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
According to experts, this can be partly attributed to the modification in the gut microbiota composition following the ingestion of mushroom polysaccharides. These beneficial compounds can reverse alterations of bacterial species involved in tumor development(15). Controlling microbial dysbiosis can augment health-promoting bacteria and metabolites of the intestine.
Research shows that the glycoproteins extracted from the mycelium of Grifola frondosa fight cancer cells(16). Glycoproteins kill the tumor cells(17) by directly putting a brake on their proliferation or initiating tumor cell death.
The beta-glucans and MD fraction of maitake mushrooms also exhibit antitumor effects(18). These bioactive compounds activate cells of the immune system (such as macrophages and lymphocytes), which attack the tumor cells.
In 1999, the Food and drug administration (FDA) approved clinical studies using the D-fraction form of maitake. This was used in people with advanced prostate and breast cancer. To date, the antitumor property of D-fraction(19) has been studied in cancers of the bladder, prostate, liver, white blood cells, brain, breast, and kidney with positive results.
Read More: Learn more about the maitake cancer benefits.
5. Decreases Blood Pressure
Maitake mushrooms keep blood pressure levels in check. The blood pressure-lowering activity of the Maitake mushroom has been the focus of multiple studies.
In a study(20) on aging female rats, Maitake mushroom extracts reduced blood pressure after four months. There were no significant toxic changes in the blood with the intake of Maitake fractions. This indicates that maitake could be a safe and natural method to favorably influence the progressive elevation of blood pressure associated with aging.
Read More: See how Chaga improves blood pressure.
Another study evaluated the effects of Shiitake mushrooms and Maitake mushrooms on blood pressure levels(21) in rats with hypertension. In a study conducted at Tohuku University in Japan, 18 rats were divided into three dietary groups. The first group of rats received no mushrooms, the second received Shiitake, and the third group received Maitake powders.
The rats were fed salt-infused drinking water for nine weeks. The blood pressure and body weight of the rats fed with the mushrooms had significantly lower blood pressure. It could be possible that the lower body weight of the rats, due to the mushroom diet, may have contributed to lowering blood pressure.
Read More: Interested in more mushrooms that improve blood pressure? See how Lion's mane treats hypertension.
6. It Has Antiviral Properties
Grifola frondosa potentiates the host defense system and can exert a protective effect against many viruses that can cause diseases.
Maitake's health benefits in fighting off viruses have been reported in a 2007 study. An antiviral protein was extracted from Grifola frondosa that inhibited the replication of Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1)(22).
In the study, the mushroom protein reduced the severity of HSV-1-induced inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) and stromal keratitis (a type of corneal inflammation that can cause vision loss or blindness) in animal models.
In another study, researchers examined the effectiveness of dietary maitake mushrooms in boosting the potency of influenza virus vaccination(23). This double-blind, placebo-controlled study on healthy adult volunteers analyzed the response to the influenza vaccine by measuring blood antibody levels. Participants were given maitake daily for 12 weeks and were also evaluated for the suppression of symptoms of the common cold.
The study found that continuously eating maitake mushrooms can raise antibody levels against the influenza virus. Additionally, symptoms of severe cold including nasal discharge and headache were significantly improved with the intake of Maitake mushroom.
7. Maitake Mushroom Extract Improves Gut Health
One of the few mushroom varieties that benefit the health of your gut, this mushroom that grows on elm trees provides amino acids and glucose tolerance to ensure you are not suffering from gut inflammation. Maitake mushroom benefits in colon inflammation have been evaluated in clinical research.
The polysaccharide extracts of Maitake mushrooms have shown a reduction in the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)(24). TNF alpha is one of the major chemicals involved in IBD.
In a rat model with IBD, the mushroom inhibited colon ulcers, TNF alpha, and weight loss associated with the disease. Moreover, the clinical effect of Maitake mushroom was similar to a drug commonly used in the treatment of IBD.
This study suggests that Maitake mushroom could be valuable medicinal food for IBD treatment. It could also be an effective alternative treatment modality.
A study evaluated 14 mushroom species, including maitake, in chronic gastritis(25) caused by Helicobacter pylori. The researchers found that the alcoholic extracts of the mushrooms inhibited the growth of H pylori. This effect of medicinal mushrooms can be potentially utilized in treating H-pylori-associated gastrointestinal disorders.
8. Lowers Cholesterol
One of the lesser-known benefits of Maitake mushrooms is that they can help control cholesterol levels. Whether you take the mushroom in supplement form or other forms, the health-promoting properties of the fungus will help you lower the bad cholesterol and, at the same time, increase the good cholesterol.
Approved by the food and drug administration, Maitake mushrooms have meager amounts of total fat. One hundred grams of the mushroom contain just about 0.2 grams of fat. While helping you avoid unnecessary fat, maitake mushrooms can be added to soups to provide good fiber and beta-glucans that support losing cholesterol in the body.
Incorporating maitake into your daily diet can significantly promote healthy weight loss and improve blood cholesterol levels.
Read More: See how Lion's mane supports weight loss.
Maitake mushrooms can also alter lipid metabolism(26) by inhibiting the elevation of blood lipid levels and liver fat accumulation.
The study from Tohuku University, Japan, also measured plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid levels. There was a significant reduction in the total cholesterol levels in the rats fed maitake. This lipid-lowering property of maitake could be attributed to increased cholesterol excretion or due to the inhibition of its synthesis.
Maitake mushrooms lowered cholesterol(27) in a rat model study. There was a reduction in total Cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol. Similar effects were also seen in another clinical study where mice fed with cholesterol were given Maitake mushroom extracts.
9. Maitake Mushroom Benefits For Skin
Maitake mushrooms carry numerous benefits for the skin. The medicinal properties of maitake help you enjoy healthier skin.
Read More: See how Chaga improves skin health.
The edible fungus and functional food stimulate collagen production and help improve skin elasticity—this reduces premature aging by eliminating premature wrinkles.
The maitake mushroom extract also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit the skin. The dancing mushroom is crucial in keeping the skin bright and hydrated when used at the proper dosage.
10. Maitake Mushrooms Fight Anxiety, Stress, And Depression
One of the mental health benefits of maitake is stress, anxiety, and depression relief.
Read More:See the best mushrooms for mental health.
Maitake mushrooms are adaptogenic. They can help your body adapt to stressful conditions, which, in turn, can make wading off the stress much more effortless.
Both anxiety and depression have uncontrolled stress and fatigue as their starting point. Therefore, by controlling stress, maitake reduces the risk of suffering from depression and anxiety.
How Much Maitake Mushroom Should I Take?
The general recommended dose of maitake is 2000 mg (or 2g) of mushroom powder daily.
Maitake mushrooms have cumulative effects. It takes weeks or months to notice the benefits of Maitake mushroom supplements.
What Are The Maitake Mushroom Side Effects?
Maitake mushroom is generally considered safe. Only a handful of side effects have been reported, which include:
- Allergic reactions
- Stomach upset.
Maitake mushroom is famous for its earthy aroma, umami flavor, and its wide range of health-boosting properties. This powerful superfood mushroom provides low-calorie nutrition and can also treat cancer, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Maitake mushroom benefits range from boosting your immune system to controlling harmful inflammation. Hen of the woods mushroom also checks your blood sugar levels and improves gut health. Maitake mushroom is not just a staple in traditional Eastern medicine but also the fast-paced lives of the modern world.
Have you tried maitake mushrooms? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments! We would love to hear about your experiences with this fantastic fungus.
- Bioactive Ingredients and Medicinal Values of Grifola frondosa (Maitake), (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7824844/
- Immunomodulatory Properties of Grifola frondosa in Submerged Culture, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16608207/
- β-Glucans, History, and the Present: Immunomodulatory Aspects and Mechanisms of Action, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18382858/
- Effect of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) D-Fraction on the Activation of NK Cells in Cancer Patients, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14977447/
- Immunomodulatory Properties of Grifola frondosa in Submerged Culture, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16608207/
- Enhancement of Cytokine Production by Macrophages Stimulated with (1→3)-β-D-Glucan, Grifolan (GRN), Isolated from Grifola frondosa, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7537572/
- Role of Human Macrophage Polarization in Inflammation during Infectious Diseases, (7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6032107/
- Pharmacological and Pharmacokinetic Studies with Agaricoglycerides, Extracted from Grifola frondosa, in Animal Models of Pain and Inflammation, (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22327864/
- Cyclooxygenase Inhibitory and Antioxidant Compounds from the Mycelia of the Edible Mushroom Grifola frondosa, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12475274/
- Effect of an Extract Based on the Medicinal Mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill on Release of Cytokines, Chemokines and Leukocyte Growth Factors in Human Blood Ex Vivo and In Vivo, (10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19281536/
- Inflammation and Cancer, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6704802/
- Anti-diabetic effect of an α-glucan from fruit body of maitake (Grifola frondosa) on KK-Ay mice, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17430642/
- Maitake SX-Fraction: Possible Hypoglycemic Effect on Diabetes Mellitus, (13)https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10762800152709723?journalCode=act
- Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: Two Diseases with a Need for Combined Treatment Strategies - EASO Can Lead the Way, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741209/
- Natural polysaccharides exhibit antitumor activity by targeting gut microbiota, (15)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30342142/
- Purification and partial characterization of a novel antitumor glycoprotein from cultured mycelia of Grifola frondosa, (16)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24512992/
- Purification and partial characterization of a novel antitumor glycoprotein from cultured mycelia of Grifola frondosa, (17)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24512992/
- Macrophage J774.1 cell is activated by MZ-Fraction (Klasma-MZ) polysaccharide in Grifola frondosa, (18)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1340354006703837?via%3Dihub
- Antitumoral and antimetastatic activity of Maitake D-Fraction in triple-negative breast cancer cells, (19)https://www.oncotarget.com/article/25174/text/
- Maitake Mushroom Extracts Ameliorate Progressive Hypertension and Other Chronic Metabolic Perturbations in Aging Female Rats, (20)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887057/
- Effect of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and Maitake (Grjfola frondosa) Mushrooms on Blood Pressure and Plasma Lipids of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats, (21)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3443885/
- Isolation, identification and function of a novel anti-HSV-1 protein from Grifola frondosa, (22)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17475344/
- Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) enhances antibody production in response to influenza vaccination in healthy adult volunteers concurrent with alleviation of common cold symptoms, (23)https://ffhdj.com/index.php/ffhd/article/view/363
- Grifola frondosa water extract alleviates intestinal inflammation by suppressing TNF-α production and its signaling, (24)https://www.nature.com/articles/emm201016
- In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori effects of medicinal mushroom extracts, with special emphasis on the Lion's Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (higher Basidiomycetes), (25)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23557368/
- The effect of maitake mushrooms on liver and serum lipids, (26)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8795938/
- Effect of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms on blood pressure and plasma lipids of spontaneously hypertensive rats, (27)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3443885/