Maitake mushrooms are actually Grifola frondosa, a polypore mushroom that grows in very specific clusters usually found at the base of a tree, near the earth. These mushrooms usually grow on oak trees, and they are known under many different names including Hen-of-the-Woods, Ram's Head and Sheep's Head. The Maitake mushrooms are widely used in oriental medicine, and their name in Japanese means the “dancing mushroom”. This edible mushroom is native to the mountains of northeastern Japan, where it is consumed as food but also marketed as a dietary food supplement. In addition to a nice taste, this mushroom has many health benefits for humans.
This mushroom was widely used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for the purpose of enhancing of the immune system. The mushroom is also beneficial for the normalization of blood pressure, blood sugar, levels of hormone insulin, serum and liver lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids. It may also be very beneficial for weight loss as well as a great nutrient supply. The mushroom is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, which aid in body metabolism, water balance and bone health.
These mushrooms are also used in the treatment of cancer, and to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy. They are also used by patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis, hay fever, problems with blood sugar, hypertension, high cholesterol, as well as for weight control. The mushrooms are also loaded with vitamins, fibers and amino acids. Perhaps the most beneficial compound of maitake mushrooms is a beta-glucan polysaccharide that can possibly block the growth of cancer tumors and boost the immune functions.
How to consume
As a food supplement, maitake mushrooms are available in the form of the liquid extract, tablet and capsules. Somewhere between 3 and 7 grams daily should be enough to boost the immune system and rejuvenate the body. The entire mushroom can also be eaten, and it is generally recommended to cook the mushroom before consuming it.
There are no known severe side effects associated with controlled and moderate use of maitake mushrooms. These mushrooms have been used for centuries and presumed to be safe. However, maitake mushrooms, as well as any other type of mushroom, can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. As already mentioned, these mushrooms can lower the blood sugar levels, and people with hypoglycemia should consume it with extreme attention. The mushroom may also reduce the blood pressure in some people and provoke the feelings of confusion, dizziness, light-headedness, and general weakness.