Maitake is a Japanese mushroom also known as the “Dancing mushroom” belonging to the Meripilaceae family and the G. frondosa species. The maitake mushroom grows in Japan and in North-America and has been praised for its healing properties, restoring unbalanced body systems. Maitake mushrooms are recognizable as they look like a cluster made of of multiple grayish-brown caps that are curled or spoon-shaped. It can be as big as 60 cm large and it grows at the same place for few years in a row. The maitake mushroom can weigh up to 20 kg and is dubbed as the King of the Mushrooms in Japan where it widely used for cooking purposes just like the Shiitake mushroom.
Maitake mushroom health properties
Besides being used for culinary purposes, the maitake mushroom also have amazing health properties and can be found in various forms: fresh mushroom, dry mushroom, powder, capsules, liquid or tea. In Asia, it has traditionally been used for its ability to boost the immune system thanks to its active constituent, Beta-glucan and is a good supplement/food to intake before the winter to fight colds and flu. It is also known to lower blood pressure, to lower bad cholesterol levels as well as to lower sugar levels in diabetic patients thanks to its hypoglycemic properties (naturally occurring alpha glucosidase inhibitor). It can also help manage weight loss. Maitake is rich in minerals, vitamins (B especially), fibers, amino-acids (proteins) and antioxidants and can help release inflammations.
Many studies have been conducted on the maitake mushroom and in 2009, a human trial was performed at the Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New-York on breast cancer patients demonstrating that the maitake mushroom could stimulate the production of immune system cells. Other studies were performed to research on prostate cancer, bladder cancer and various types of cancer cells and revealed that a portion of the mushroom called D-fraction was responsible for the anti-cancer activity. Further studies are being performed on the maitake mushroom that could become a life saver in the future.
How to take maitake?
First of all, depending where you live, it might be hard to find fresh maitake since it does not grow everywhere. However, dry maitake is commonly found in natural health stores or online and organic maitake is recommended to ensure it has grown on untreated soils. Dry organic maitake mushrooms can be soaked in warm water until it becomes soft (1 hour usually). It can then be cooked with other organic products such as olive oil and added in meat, pasta, organic quinoa or with other vegetables. The taste is quite pleasant although it is very different from the mushrooms we are typically used to eat; however, knowing what good it does to us, the taste can easily be put aside. You can also find maitake in the form of liquid in maitake ampules. You can use these ampules to do a cure of 21 days during the fall and during the spring, basically at the times when the immune system is at its lowest and needs a boost. You can also use 2 to 4 grams of maitake mushrooms to make a maitake tea. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 to 4 hours, pass it and drink a cup in the morning and the evening. You can also easily find maitake supplements to take with a glass of water, but be always careful with the origin of the product to ensure it has not been mixed with other powders, as the effects will be lowered.