Since the pandemic era, concerns about our immune systems are rampant. With so many different supplements, regimens and health fads, it's confusing to know what is worth adding to your daily routine. For many people, going back to nature’s medicine is the answer.
Mushrooms are quickly becoming one of the most popular wellness trends in years. Unlike many new-age health movements, mushrooms have the backing of thousands of years of usage. If you’re looking to boost your immune system this cold and flu season, the healing benefits of maitake mushrooms just might be the solution.
What is Maitake?
Maitake translates to “the dancing mushroom” in japanese, because of its likeness to the “waving hands and kimono sleeves of dancing girls.” Others say it is called “the dancing mushroom” due to the way they danced with joy when it was discovered in the wild. This mushroom’s overlapping clusters of light brown caps with white edges resembles the ruffled feathers of a laying hen, which is why it gets its name “hen of the woods” from Western culture.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) traces back to Japan, over 2,000 years ago. A group of Buddhist nuns discovered it and brought it into Japanese culture. Since then, this fungus has become a staple in Chinese and Japanese herbology. Only since 1979 did Japanese mycologists learn how to cultivate maitake and make it broadly available.
Grifola frondosa is native to northeast Japan, China and North America. They can be found growing under the base of maple, elm and oak trees. These billowing fungi have been known to reach over 100 pounds if left undisturbed, however most grow to be 10 pounds. Maitake are part of the polypore mushroom group, which means they have large fruiting bodies and either pores or tubes on the underside, rather than gills.
What Does Science Say?
Maitake is one of the most widely researched mushrooms in the world, most commonly known in the health community for their immune boosting properties. Let's dive into why scientists are reeling over their findings.
Without getting too technical, maitake has a compound called D-Fraction, which is at the center of its health benefits. D-Fraction is an alkali-soluble, hot water extractable polysaccharide that is linked to most of maitake’s magic.
Maitake D-Fraction, when combined with Vitamin C, has been linked to preventing and reducing the growth of breast cancer in certain patients. Another study done on mice suggests that maitake may be able to reduce the growth of tumors in humans if taken orally on a regular basis.
Beta glucans, or types of fiber found in the cells of certain fungi, (including Maitake), have been shown in clinical trials to have a positive effect on glucose levels. These beta glucans help to activate insulin receptors and ultimately aid in diabetes management.
When turning maitake into a powder extract and taken orally, maitake has been shown to lower cholesterol, by positively influencing the fatty acids that provide our body with energy. Because of this study, scientists are coming to the consensus that eating maitake mushrooms regularly may help keep our arteries healthy.
Everyday Cold and Flu
The beta glucan content in maitake also has antiviral properties. These bioactive polysaccharides help our body steer clear of pathogens, viruses, or bacteria and microorganisms that can make us sick. If you’re feeling stressed, feel a cold coming on, or have a weakened immune system, taking maitake can help you get the boost your body needs.
Daily Nutritional Value
Eating maitake has great nutritional value in your everyday diet. Maitake are extremely low in carbohydrates and calories, while containing no fats and very low sugar. However, they are jam packed with beta glucans, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and niacin, which support a healthy diet.
How To Add Them To Your Routine
One of the most popular ways to use maitake is to purchase it fresh and add it to some of your favorite dishes. Maitake has a delicious earthy, peppery, and woody taste. It’s texture is feathery, yet meaty, which makes it great in a variety of recipes. If you do buy them fresh, make sure not to wash them until you’re ready to eat them, as washing prematurely contributes to them breaking down and becoming slimy.
If you’re looking to reap the health benefits of maitake more regularly, taking them in a capsule supplement form may be for you. They can also be purchased in liquid extract form. When looking for a maitake supplement, look for maitake D-Fraction. Taking maitake alongside a vitamin C supplement may also boost the health benefits of D-Fraction.
There are hundreds of mushrooms that you can take daily to help your body and mind stay happy and healthy. At Alchemi Mushrooms, we grow our own organic mushrooms and have created products that elevate optimal health. Try any of our wellness capsules or add our adaptogenic mushroom powder to your morning coffee and see how fungi can change your health.