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What is maitake? What is it used for?
Maitake is a giant mushroom found in the mountains of northeastern
Japan. The typical maitake is light or golden-brown in color.
Although it can become quite large (in some cases, it can
grow to be the size of a basketball), it as extremely sensitive
to environmental changes, which makes it difficult to grow
in most areas.
Along with other medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake and
reishi, maitake has been used to promote general health and
wellness. The body of the mushroom contains polysaccharides
that are well absorbed when consumed orally. These polysaccharides
are thought to enhance immunity and fight diseases.
Traditionally, maitake was thought to prevent high blood
pressure and cancer. Contemporary studies suggest that maitake
may indeed lower high blood pressure and reduce levels of
fat in the blood. However, these studies have mostly been
conducted on humans and require more research.
How much maitake should I take?
Most TCM practitioners recommend 3-7 grams of maitake daily.
Because the body of the fruit contains more polysaccharides
than the leafy sections, the body is recommended as a supplement.
What forms of maitake are available?
Raw maitake can be found at many Asian markets and specialty
stores. Maitake supplements containing large amounts of polysaccharides
can be found at many health food stores. Liquid maitake products
containing high amounts of polysaccharides are also available.
What can happen if I take too much maitake? Are there any interactions I
should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
If used as recommended, there are no well-known side effects
or reports of drug interactions with maitake. As always, patients
should consult with a health care provider before taking maitake
(or any other supplements).
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms.
Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, pp. 1105.
Kubo K, Nanba H. Anti-hyperliposis effect of maitake
fruit body (grifola frondosa). I Biol Pharm Bull
Nanba H. Immunostimulant activity in vivo and
anti-HIV activity in vitro of 3 branched b-16-glucans
extracted from maitake mushrooms (grifola frondosa).
VIII International Conference on AIDS, Amsterdam, 1992 [abstract].
Nanba H, Hamaguchi AM, Kuroda H. The chemical structure
of an antitumor polysaccharide in fruit bodies of grifola
frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1987;35:11628.
Yamada Y, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor effect of orally
administered extracts from fruit body of grifola frondosa
(maitake). Chemotherapy 1990;38:7906.