Maitake mushroom, also called hen-of-the-wood, is an amazing adaptogen with incredible benefits. Used to help lower cholesterol, help type 2 diabetes, and even for cancer, maitake is proving to be one of the mushrooms to know in the supplement world.
Please keep in mind that we are not doctors or medical professionals, and we always highly recommend speaking to your own doctor prior to starting or taking any supplements or making lifestyle changes. NOTHING in this article is medical advice and should not be taken as such. These are simply general concepts, not prescriptive information or health advice. We cannot emphasize this enough! Proceed at your own risk.
What Is Maitake?
Maitake is a type of frilly mushroom that grows at the bases of trees. It’s more commonly known by English speakers as hen-of-the-woods, ram’s head or sheep’s head because of its appearance. However, it’s usually called maitake (pronounced Mi-TAH-kee), the Japanese name, when it’s used as a supplement. It actually can be cooked and eaten, as well! When cooked, they are chewy with an earthy, woodsy flavor.
Maitake mushrooms are adaptogens, a type of plant that help the body resist various types of stressors, from emotional and physical, to external stressors.
What Are The Benefits?
- Helps maintain healthy blood sugar
- Could treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- May lower cholesterol
- Potential to prevent and treat some cancers
- Boosts immunity
Helps Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar
Maitake was shown in a study to lower high blood glucose levels in rats with diabetes. While there haven’t been any published studies on humans, taking maitake as a supplement may help reduce blood sugar spikes and may keep levels normal.
Could Treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
One exciting study has shown that maitake caused people with PCOS to ovulate. Many people diagnosed with PCOS also suffer from infertility because of hormonal imbalances that interfere with the release of eggs from the ovaries. Maitake very well could help regulate ovulation and make getting pregnant easier for those who have the condition.
May Lower Cholesterol
While no human studies have been published yet, one animal study did show that bad cholesterol was lowered in rats. High cholesterol can create fatty deposits in your arteries which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Early research shows that taking maitake supplements may reduce your risk.
Potential to Prevent and Treat Some Cancers
Although research still needs be done, several studies have shown that maitake mushrooms may slow cancer growth and kill cancer cells. One study showed that maitake may even prevent and treat breast cancer in particular.
Several studies show that maitake benefits the immune system and helps protect the body from illness. Like other adaptogens, maitake mushrooms help the body manage stress, which can prevent us from getting sick.
How Do I Take Maitake & What Should I Expect?
Maitake can be taken in capsule or powdered form. Taking it with vitamin C is said to increase its efficiency. It also can be cooked in a variety of different ways and added to your regular diet. Check out a bunch of delicious recipes here!
While maitake mushrooms should be safe for almost everyone, there is a risk of stomach ache or allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to other mushrooms, be wary!
Before Taking Maitake
Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement or vitamin plan to make sure it’s a healthy choice for you. In particular, if any of the following apply to you:
- Diabetic: Since maitake can lower your blood sugar, talk to your doctor before taking it as a supplement to make sure your blood sugar won’t get too low.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding: While maitake is probably safe for baby, talk to your doctor to make 100% sure.
- Have an autoimmune disease or cancer: Again, talk to your doctor to make sure maitake is a safe and healthy choice for your body.