While the demand for health and wellness grows, the supplement industry grows in parallel. One supplement group enjoying rapidly increasing popularity is nootropic medicinal mushrooms like Maitake, Chaga, and Reishi.
Nootropics have long been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments and reduce the risk of serious illness. In recent times, the use of nootropic mushrooms has increased as more health-conscious individuals seek out their potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cognitive-supporting properties.
One such nootropic is the Maitake mushroom. In this blog post, we’ll look more closely at the Maitake, what it can do, and how you can enjoy it.
What is Maitake?
With the scientific name of Grifola frondosa, Maitake is also known as “hen-of-the-woods,” sheep’s head, or ram’s head mushroom. Maitake means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, and it is thought to have earned its name when those who discovered it supposedly danced with joy at its incredible wellness benefits.
Maitake mushroom varieties have been used in cuisine from China and Japan for hundreds of years. They have a distinctive flavor with an earthy, woody taste. When cooked, they have a tender, meaty texture, which enhances their umami flavor. Maitake is often included in soups, stir-fries, pasta, and salads.
They grow in temperate forests in Asia, Europe, and North America at the base of hardwood trees like oak, maple, and elm.
Maitake is referred to as “hen-of-the-woods,” a close relative to chicken-in-the-woods. This is partly because of their clustered, leafy appearance that can resemble a fluffed-up hen. They are large mushrooms and can weigh several pounds when fully mature.
Maitake mushrooms are rich in nutrients and are used for immune system support, anti-inflammation, antioxidants, blood glucose levels, and pressure regulation. In addition, studies on mice have suggested that beta-glucans and polysaccharides found in Maitake have some potential to inhibit tumor growth, though this has not extended to human trials..
Maitake Growth Cycle and Characteristics
Maitake is a porous, perennial mushroom that grows in the same spot each year once the mycelium sets into the tree. They are polypores, which means they have pores that release the spores instead of gills.
The mushrooms grow from underground sclerotium, which are dense masses of mycelium. The fruiting bodies of the fresh Maitake mushrooms form clusters of caps that can be as large as 40 inches wide and weigh up to 100 pounds.
They are grayish-brown and grow in temperate forests in fall (August to November). Maitake tastes and works best when young before it begins to toughen, smell more potent, and taste more bitter as it ages.
Unlike some other mushrooms, species that look like Maitake are also edible, reducing the risk of accidentally ingesting a dangerous species.
Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms
Maitake only became popular in North America in the last few decades, and research is currently insufficient to make any concrete health claims. However, a study on mice highlighted Maitake’s potential to decrease tumor-caused immunosuppressive cells.
In addition, other studies have found neuroprotective properties of Maitake and potential for improving immune function.
Maitake is also found to have bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation can cause tissue damage, pain and discomfort, autoimmune conditions, and rheumatoid arthritis.* It is important to note that these bioactive compounds and other potentially beneficial compounds in these mushrooms do not have proven medicinal applications and should never be used in the place of prescribed medicine. Always consult your doctor before adding a product to your wellness regimen.
Not only is Maitake thought to have numerous potential wellness benefits, but they are also delicious! Used in various cuisines, but especially Asian ones, Maitake is often sauteed, stir-fried, roasted, and boiled. They can also be used in pasta and risotto dishes.
Here are some common ways you can try Maitake mushrooms!
Sauteed – Heat some oil or butter in a pan and sauté the mushrooms until they are golden brown and crispy. You can season them with salt and pepper, and voila, you have a healthy, tasty side dish!
Stir-Fry – You can add them into veggie stir-fries with your choice of protein, like lean chicken or tofu. Add garlic, onions, and soy sauce for a simple and flavorful dish.
Soups – Chuck the mushrooms into a hearty soup or stew for an interesting addition to the dish.
Roasted – Coat them with a healthy oil like olive or avocado and season with herbs, roasting them until tender.
Maitake Mushrooms as a Supplement
If you are considering adding Maitake mushrooms to your health regimen, here’s what you need to know!
Your appropriate dosage will depend on your age, weight, and general health. However, the recommended daily dose is about 2,000 mg for an average-sized adult.
Also, the potency of each supplement is different, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s label.
Maitake mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. However, some interactions can still exist, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
Take a smaller dose, then gradually increase it as your body adapts. If you are harvesting Maitake from the wild, be sure they are the exact species, as some other mushrooms may have some side effects.
Lastly, be sure to buy only from reputable manufacturers, as some low-quality products may contain contaminants like heavy metals. Look for a Certificate of Analysis, which is done through third-party lab testing for purity and potency.
Although rare, some folks are allergic to mushrooms and should avoid Maitake supplements. Those with sensitive stomachs might also experience gastrointestinal discomfort like cramps or diarrhea.
In addition, if you are currently on medications, be sure to check with your healthcare provider for medical advice before starting on Maitake, especially if you are on blood thinning or immunosuppressive drugs.
Maitake: Final Thoughts
Maitake has been used for thousands of years as part of traditional medicine but has only gained popularity in the Western world in the past few decades. Although more research is needed for iron-clad claims, early studies show the numerous potential benefits of this nootropic mushroom.
Ready to jumpstart your health and include nootropics in your life? Check out our nootropic Mushroom products that contain Maitake as well as Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Chaga. You only have one body; let us help you care for it!*
*It is important to note that the benefits of these mushrooms have not been conclusively proven. Blessed Wellness products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and the NHS has not made any guarantees about the efficacy of Blessed Wellness products.