The Maitake mushroom, also called the “Hen of the Woods” is often recognized for its adaptogenic benefits, but what’s that really mean?
According to many, Maitake benefits may include a powerful immune boost and digestive support that contribute to lifelong vitality, among a handful of other wellness advantages. Some are just hearsay, while other Maitake benefits are supported by research.
Here’s what you need to know about the science-backed potential of the functional mushroom:
Research is still limited, but some of the primary benefits of Maitake may include the following:
Let’s dig into the research available. Here are nine research-backed Maitake benefits you should know:
Maitake mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked into meals, although many prefer it as a powdered supplement or capsule. Either way, Maitake has some profound nutritional benefits to be aware of. It’s loaded with the following:
Plus, Maitake mushrooms include some vitamins and minerals you can’t find in many other plant sources, like Vitamin D. Many of these compounds, especially the antioxidants and beta-glucans, may be responsible for many of the other potential benefits.
We mentioned that Maitake is often classified as an adaptogen, but let’s discuss what that means. Adaptogens are compounds that adapt to the body’s needs to help provide immune balance and stress reduction. In general, adaptogens are as close to a one-size-fits-all wellness supplement as you will find in nature.
A 2015 study found that mice regularly consumed Maitake experienced lower glucose levels and healthier insulin responses. Maitake may positively impact metabolic health, although more human studies are needed to draw any firm conclusions.
Maitake mushrooms contain healthy fiber and other nutritional compounds that support healthy digestion. One animal study found that maitake was among several varieties of functional mushrooms that may help lower bad cholesterol levels.
Maitake’s fiber content offers a rich source of prebiotic fiber that may help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. This beneficial bacteria in the gut is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Maitake contains polysaccharides called beta-glucans, or bioactive carbohydrates, that may support the immune system. Research suggests that these polysaccharides may support cellular immunity to help prevent illness and infections.
Thanks to its diverse fiber content, prebiotic support, and benefits for digestion, maitake mushrooms may support healthy weight management and metabolism.
Research shows that Maitake offers a significant dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage or tissue damage caused by external toxins. Antioxidants can support a healthy aging process and help prevent damage to the brain and other tissues as we age.
A 2012 study found that a Maitake extract was effective in killing human cancer cells and also increased the effectiveness of cancer-fighting proteins taken at the same time.
A 2013 study concluded that a Maitake extract might prevent the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells, specifically that it may help prevent or treat breast cancer.
Another 2013 animal study found that Maitake may help suppress tumor growth while boosting the immune response against the tumor. Mouse subjects were found to have a higher number of active immune cells fighting against tumor growth after taking regular Maitake doses.
Although animal and in vitro studies look promising, more human trials are needed to understand the impact maitake may have on human cancer cells in the body.
Maitake can function as part of a healthy diet, but those serious about its therapeutic benefits often look for a Maitake supplement or extract. In fact, Maitake is a completely functional mushroom often used alongside other adaptogens and nootropics to support overall well-being, boost immunity, and improve energy.
Because Maitake supplements are not regulated as strictly as pharmaceuticals in the U.S., it’s important that you look for a high-quality Maitake supplement that’s well-made and lab tested. Taking the correct Maitake dosage and using a high-quality supplement are the best ways to avoid any side effects that may be linked to Maitake mushrooms.
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