Maitake, is among the world’s most beneficial functional mushrooms. Its name which is translated as the dancing mushroom, perfectly describes the beautiful array of overlapping caps that resemble a bird’s plumage. Thanks to its bird-like appearance, it is known as the “hen-of-the-woods” in Europe and North America. This feathered mushroom offers a wide range of health benefits, including its ability to help support healthy blood sugar levels and immune health. If you’re wondering how to experience the benefits of Maitake and incorporate it into your daily routine, here’s some background on this superfood mushroom’s history and some tips on how to take it every day.
History of Maitake
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is native to China, northeastern Japan and North America, where it can be found on the forest floor at the base of oak, maple or elm trees. Capable of growing to over 100 pounds, it earned the title of “king of the mushrooms.” It was first discovered over 2,000 years ago by a group of Buddhist nuns and woodcutters in Japan. Apparently, overjoyed by the taste, sight and medicinal properties of this distinctive mushroom, they danced, and it’s nickname derives from that experience. Following its discovery, Maitake became an integral part of Chinese and Japanese herbology as a result of its therapeutic and restorative attributes. It was used in Chinese medicine to improve spleen and stomach health as well as to help calm nerves. In 1979, Japanese mycologists created indoor and outdoor cultivation techniques and today, Maitake is one of the more broadly used mushrooms throughout the world.
Health Properties and Benefits
Maitake contains an impressive amount of polysaccharides, triterpenes and additional bioactive chemicals that are known to offer a wide range of health benefits. Research shows that its beta glucan content has immune-supporting effects as well as anti-viral properties. The mushroom’s bioactive polysaccharides support the body in helping to ward off pathogens - particularly useful when there’s a cold going around at the office, or you’re experiencing stress and have a weakened immune system. As a beneficial adaptogen, Maitake helps to promote natural balance and healthy stress response in the body. In another study, Maitake has also been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels, help reduce insulin and support weight management.
With its mild, woodsy and eggplant flavor, Maitake can be consumed daily and is delicious in soups, stews, pasta dishes, ramen, casseroles, sauces and sautés. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to incorporate Maitake’s health benefits into your daily health regimen, try it in a dietary supplement form.
Om Mushroom provides a variety of the highest quality mushroom superfoods on the market. As a leading producer of certified organic, whole food mushroom powders, Om offers Maitake as a single species and in curated blends with other functional mushrooms. Easy to use, they can be added to smoothies, juice, coffee, tea, oatmeal, eggs and dressings - you can even bake with them. Om’s superfood mushroom powders can also be purchased in capsule form and in functional drink mixes that make it easy to enjoy the benefits of mushrooms when you’re on the go. From natural energy to helping promote a head-to-toe glow, Om’s mushroom products are convenient nutrient-dense supplements that fit well with modern-day consumption.
Edie Horstman is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, wellness blogger, and freelance writer. She works with health-focused brands, co-creating content in the digital marketing space. She lives in Denver, Colorado.