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Medicinal Mushroom Series: Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake mushroom, also known as Hen of the Woods, is the next mushroom on the list. It is both medicinal and delicious, with a flavour profile described as earthy and meaty this mushroom can compliment a dish or be taken as a supplement to supercharge your health!

The Maitake mushroom grew in popularity through its culinary incorporation in Japan. It can be found growing in almost any forest area in the late summer and fall, and has become quite famous for being able to reach sizes of 50lbs or more! Now on to the medicinal side of things. Here are the top 6 benefits of the Maitake mushroom!

1) Immune boosting

Studies have found that supplementing with Maitake can help strengthen the immune system. This seems to be a fairly common trait among medicinal mushrooms, Maitake included. Who doesn't want to get sick less often?!

2) Hypotensive

This means that by incorporating Maitake into your daily routine, you can actually decrease your blood pressure! This mushroom has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure who consume it regularly. 

3) Hypoglycemic

Not only does it lower your blood pressure, but Maitake can even lower your blood sugar! An excellent 1-2 punch for people who deal with rising blood pressure and diabetes, conditions that often go hand-in-hand. Adding some Maitake may hold off rising doses of medications and help contribute to fewer side effects.

4) Regulates Cholesterol

Regular intake of Maitake has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol (the good stuff), and decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). Interestingly enough, it is speculated that it does this indirectly, through a beneficial effect on the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is a term used to describe all the bacteria that make up the digestive system. It has been a focus point of a lot of research recently and we are discovering more and more about how keeping our microbiota happy keeps our body happy. Another point for Maitake!

5) Anti-tumour Properties

That's right, supplementing with Maitake has been shown to put a stop to tumour formation. A lot of research in this area is currently focused on breast cancer, where this mushroom seems to help the most. Interestingly enough, the anti-tumour properties of this mushroom appear to be destroyed when heat is added. So if this is the benefit you are looking for, make sure to avoid mixing this mushroom into any coffees or teas!

6) Helps Eliminate Mercury from the Body

Mercury is a heavy metal that use to be used in thermometers before we discovered how toxic it is. Now, the most common sources of mercury that people will encounter come from the sea, in the form of large fish species that we consume, like tuna. Having elevated levels of mercury in the body can cause symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, numbness, memory problems, depression and tremors. Fortunately, including Maitake in your diet can help reduce this build up and help you live a happier, healthier life! 

Dr. Rob Raponi ND, CISSN, B.Kine(Hons)

Podcast: Well Talks

Facebook: @Dr.Raponi


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