Maitake – Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom. Polypores are a group of tough, leathery mushrooms that tend to prefer growing at the base of trees preferring the base of old oak trees and also grows on stumps of older trees.
They can grow up to a yard however are generally one to two feet across and weighing several pounds. In Japan, the Maitake can grow to more than fifty pounds and appropriately known in Japan as “King of the Mushrooms.”
Known in Chinese medicine as an immunity enhancer, the Japanese refer to the Maitake as the “dancing mushroom.”
Maitake is delicious sliced and sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, with shallots, garlic, some sherry and salt with freshly ground pepper to taste.
It’s not however just a delicious side dish. The medicinal properties of this amazing mushroom cannot be overlooked. Research has indicated that whole Maitake has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serum and liver lipids such as cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids and may also help with weight loss.
Maitake is rich in minerals, calcium, potassium and magnesium, various vitamins B2, D2 and niacin, fibers and amino acids. Small experiments with human cancer patients have shown that Maitake can stimulate immune system cells like NK cells – Natural Killer cells. A 2009 human trial test conducted by Memorial Sloan-Kettering showed Maitake could stimulate the immune systems of breast cancer patients. In vivo experiments have also shown that Maitake can stimulate both the innate immune system and adaptive immune system.
In rare cases, it has been known to cause allergic reactions but benefits far outweigh the possible harmful effects.
Research has shown that Maitake has a hypoglycemic effect and may be beneficial for the management of diabetes. The reason for this is that this mushroom naturally contains an alpha glucosidase inhibitor.
G. frondrosa grows more prolifically in the northeastern regions of the United States but has been found growing as far west as Idaho.
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