Maitake - Japanese Mushroom and its Helath Benefits
The Japanese mushroom with the name that is translated as “dancing mushroom” is known in herbal medicine as maitake, or under other names, like Sheep’s Head, Ram’s Head and Hen of the Woods. The latter is attributed to the unusual look of this mushroom – it resembles hen’s feathers. This perennial polypore mushroom grows in clusters at the foot of trees, especially oaks. The mushroom grows from the tuber-like stem 15-20 cm in diameter. The body of the fungus is (typically no more than 60 cm) is a cluster of multiple caps of grayish or brownish color. Thee clusters are often curled and spoon-shaped, with wavy margins. The mushroom’s milky-white brunchy stalk becomes firm as the maitake matures. The mushroom can sometimes grow up to over 20 kg.
Maitake is native to North America and northeastern part of Japan and has gained a wide use in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. It is rather sensitive to the environmental changes and this is the reason that it is often grown in the laboratories.
The fruiting body and the underground tubers are the parts of the fungus that are typically used in medicinal purposes.
The maitake mushroom is eaten as a food, and the extract called D-fraction is marketed as a food supplement and is available for the consumer. Maitake is released in form of liquid extract, tablet, and capsule with the variations of the active components’ amounts. Typical daily dose of dried mushroom is 3-7 grams of the supplement. You can also find maitake in food stores where it is sold to be eaten as food or boiled into tea.
An extract from the maitake called D-fraction© is the most powerful component of the plant for which it is favoured. The key protein-bound polysaccharide compound in it (beta-glucan) actively enhances the immune system and has been studied to prevent cancer and treat HIV infection. The fungus is also rich in minerals (such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium), vitamins (B2, D2 and Niacin), fibers and amino acids.
Historically, eastern herbalists have been using maitake and other edible mushrooms in tonics, teas, prepared foods, and herbal formulas. They are believed to promote health and longevity. The medical researches have proved and confirmed the beneficial effects of maitake: its active components have potential actions against cancer, blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Maitake herbal supplements are used to promote immune function, ward off the viruses and bacteria, help balance blood sugar levels, fight allergies, and reduce inflammation. Moreover, the active chemicals in fungus support overall body’s detoxification mechanisms and enhance weight loss.
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