In recent years, natural remedies have become super popular, with herbs and fungi stealing the spotlight for their potential health perks. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) is one medicinal mushroom that's caught the spotlight, and for good reason–It's been revered in traditional Eastern medicine for ages, thanks to its proposed immune-boosting and anti-cancer qualities.
While it was traditionally prepared as a tea, modern preparations include a variety of powders, capsules, beverages, and the pinnacle of maitake supplements– maitake mushroom extract.
This potent formula offers a concentrated dose of maitake’s immune-boosting, bioactive compounds, packed with additional benefits compared to whole mushroom powders. Here, we’ll dive into the differences between maitake extract and whole mushroom powder and explain why adding maitake mushroom extract to your daily routine can be seriously advantageous. Let’s jump in:
Table of Contents
Maitake is a functional mushroom that’s heavily touted for its immune-boosting potential.
Maitake can be eaten on its own, but is most often found in powdered form. A high-quality maitake extract will offer the most concentrated therapeutic value.
You can take Maitake on its own, but many people prefer to take a blend of functional mushrooms for increased benefits.
Understanding Maitake Mushroom Extract (vs Whole Mushroom Powder)
Before we explore the differences between maitake extract and whole mushroom powder, let's briefly understand what maitake mushrooms are and why they are so intriguing in the realm of natural health.
What is Maitake?
The maitake mushroom, also known as "hen of the woods," is a large, wild mushroom native to northeastern Japan and North America.
Maitake mushrooms contain a variety of bioactive compounds that contribute to their potential health benefits. Among these, beta-glucans, terpenoids, and various other compounds are believed to play crucial roles in supporting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and promoting overall well-being. For maitake, the beta-glucan D-Fraction is responsible for many of its health benefits.
Among other benefits, maitake is also frequently regarded as having anti-cancer properties and is even a go-to supplemental therapy for cancer patients in some parts of the world. As you can imagine, treating complex conditions with maitake mushrooms requires a potent dose of its bioactive compounds. This is where different forms of maitake, and specifically maitake extract, come into play:
Maitake Mushroom Extract
Maitake mushroom extract is a concentrated form of the mushroom, where the active compounds are extracted and processed to create a potent supplement. The extraction process usually involves hot water or alcohol extraction, which helps to draw out the bioactive compounds from the mushroom fruiting body. This concentrated form is more potent than consuming the whole mushroom directly, making it a convenient and effective way to access the mushroom's potential benefits.
High-quality mushroom extracts made from maitake fruiting bodies contain a beta-glucan content of 20% or more. This far surpasses the beta-glucan content of some lower-quality (mycelium-based) products, which can sit at 5% or lower. We’ll discuss more about maitake extract quality standards down below.
Whole Mushroom Powder
Whole mushroom powder, on the other hand, is simply dried and ground maitake mushrooms in their original form. The mushroom is dried at low temperatures and then pulverized into a fine powder, retaining most of its natural constituents. This type of product may be referred to as “full spectrum,” which is a deceiving marketing term that implies it may contain all of the mushroom's bioactive compounds, but this isn't exactly the case.
While whole mushroom powder does offer some health benefits, it is generally less potent than the extract because the bioactive components are locked away in the mushroom’s chitin, the polymer layers that make up the mushroom’s tissues. Chitin, the same polymer that makes up the exoskeleton of many insects, is difficult for the body to break down.
For this reason, whole mushroom powders may offer significant nutritional advantages, like increased mineral and vitamin consumption, but they are not generally chosen for their bioactive compounds or therapeutic benefits.
What are the Benefits of Maitake Mushroom Extract?
Maitake mushroom extract has earned its reputation as a potent natural remedy due to its numerous potential benefits, including:
Mushrooms have long been regarded as having immune-stimulating properties, and some research identifies Maitake as one of the most powerful functional mushrooms for boosting the immune system.
One study compared the immune boosting benefits of Shitake, Maitake, and a combination of the two. The research found that the combination extract was the most active in terms of stimulating the immune system defense response. On its own, maitake was second-most effective at stimulating immune reactions.
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 may be able to prevent the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells, specifically that it may be useful for preventing or treating 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.
More research is needed to fully understand how different Maitake preparations can be used to manage cancer in humans, but the overall immune-boosting potential is promising.
A 2013 study found that Maitake extract could be beneficial for lowering high cholesterol, though the study involved animal subjects. Of course, the study also linked Maitake to other nutritional benefits, like an increase in fatty acids that convert to energy, which may help to keep the circulatory system healthy.
Diabetes (Lowering Blood Sugar)
A 2015 study investigated the potential benefits of Maitake mushrooms for rats with type 2 diabetes. Regularly consuming Maitake resulted in lower glucose levels. The authors believe that these results could translate to benefits in humans with diabetes, but more research is needed.
Maitake mushroom extract also exhibits potent antioxidant properties, which are vital in neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to oxidative stress, a process associated with various chronic health conditions. By scavenging these free radicals, the antioxidants in maitake extract help protect the body's cells from oxidative damage and maintain overall health.
Some research has indicated that maitake mushroom extract may play a role in weight management. The extract has been associated with increased metabolism and the promotion of satiety, which could contribute to better weight control. However, more studies are needed to fully understand the extent of its effects on weight management.
How to Use Maitake Mushroom Extract
Maitake mushroom extract is available in various forms, including capsules, tinctures, and powders. The dosage and specific product may vary depending on the manufacturer and individual needs. As with any supplement, it is essential to follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or have underlying health conditions.
Let’s dig into the details you needs about dosage, product quality, and different methods for use:
Choosing a Quality Product
The quality of your wellness supplements is incredibly important, especially since supplements are not regulated the same way as prescription medications. Ensure that the Maitake supplement you purchase comes from a trustworthy manufacturer. Look for a brand that uses a cGMP-compliant manufacturing facility and third-party testing techniques to ensure the quality of their products.
Understand the difference between whole mushroom products and extract products. Ideally, you want a product that is single hot-water extracted from maitake fruiting bodies and is NOT made from mushroom mycelium.
To learn more, you may want to read:
- Hot Water, Alcohol, or Dual Extraction for Mushroom Supplements? Selecting the Best Extraction Method
- Mycelium vs Fruiting Body: Which Makes the Best Mushroom Supplements?
When Should I Take Maitake Mushrooms?
Most people prefer to take their maitake dose first thing in the morning, although you can incorporate it at any point in your day. You should try to take Maitake regularly, around the same time each day for the best effects.
How Much Maitake Should I Take Daily?
The amount of Maitake you should take daily depends on the form of Maitake you use. Doses range from 10 to 30 mg of the extract and from 200 to 2,500 mg of whole mushroom powder depending on the reason you’re taking Maitake and the total beta-glucan content of the powder. If you are taking Maitake with other functional mushrooms, you may need a smaller dose than you’d need if taking Maitake on its own.
In general, it’s best to start with a lower dose and increase slowly until you experience the desired effects.
Types of Maitake Extract and How Its Used
Maitake can be eaten raw, but supplements usually consist of dehydrated mushroom powder because they offer a better shelf life. You can find both Maitake extract and whole Maitake mushroom powder, each of which have different dosing thresholds.
Many people combine Maitake with other functional mushrooms and take it as an encapsulated supplement. If using maitake mushroom extract powder, it can be added to smoothies, teas, or various recipes.
Is Maitake Mushroom Extract Safe?
Maitake is widely considered a safe, delicious edible mushroom that can safely be eaten both raw and cooked. Maitake research involves both human and animal trials in which the supplement is generally well tolerated.
Still, there isn’t much information regarding the safety of different Maitake supplements. One rare side effect reported after taking Maitake is nausea. The most significant safety concern is in the quality of individual products and not the safety of the Maitake mushroom itself. In many cases, adverse effects could be linked to poor product quality.
It’s also important to discuss changes to your wellness routine with your doctor, especially if you already take other medications. Maitake may not be safe for anyone with a bleeding disorder or who suffers from certain blood pressure or blood sugar conditions.
Conclusion: What are the Benefits of Maitake Mushroom Extract?
The verdict is obvious–maitake mushroom extract offers a host of potential benefits, from immune system support and antioxidant properties to potential assistance in managing blood sugar levels and promoting cardiovascular health. While maitake mushroom whole powder also offers health benefits, the extract is a more concentrated and potent form due to its extraction process, making it a popular choice for those seeking to harness the full potential of this fascinating fungus.
However, as with any supplement, it's important to remember that maitake mushroom extract is not approved for medical use and is not designed to treat any condition. It can be an excellent addition to a healthy lifestyle and well-balanced diet, but it is always wise to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly if you have existing health conditions or concerns.
Choosing a high-quality mushroom supplement is the first step to getting on your way with a new medicinal mushroom regimen. As it turns out, though, maitake may have synergistic benefits that make it a great match for other medicinal mushrooms and natural compounds. Our Lucid Mushroom+Nootropic stack displays this perfectly.
Our Lucid stack contains Alpha-GPC, L-Theanine, and L-Tyrosine, plus other nootropics (Ginkgo Biloba and BCAA’s) and four powerful medicinal mushrooms (Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Tremella).
When it’s all said and done, this nootropic + mushroom super blend adds up to offer these benefits and more:
- Increases focus and cognitive endurance
- Improves athletic performance
- Helps to manage fatigue
- Boosts immunity
- Improves neurogenesis
- Enhances learning, and memory
- Supports a healthy stress response
- Promotes relaxation
- Supports a balanced mood
If you’re looking for a nootropic stack to help bring you back into focus, check out the Lucid Starter Kit.
- “Immunomodulatory Effects of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms and Their Bioactive Immunoregulatory Products” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346759543_Immunomodulatory_Effects_of_Edible_and_Medicinal_Mushrooms_and_Their_Bioactive_Immunoregulatory_Products
- “Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202470/
- “Abstract 3515: Maitake D-Fraction, a natural mushroom extract, synergizes with Interleukin-2 for increased lytic activity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells against various human tumor cell histologies” https://aacrjournals.org/cancerres/article/72/8_Supplement/3515/580445/Abstract-3515-Maitake-D-Fraction-a-natural
- “Genes Related to Suppression of Malignant Phenotype Induced by Maitake D-Fraction in Breast Cancer Cells” https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jmf.2012.0222
- “Oral administration of soluble β-glucans extracted from Grifola frondosa induces systemic antitumor immune response and decreases immunosuppression in tumor-bearing mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23280601/
- “Effect of Dietary Maitake (Grifola frondosa) Mushrooms on Plasma Cholesterol and Hepatic Gene Expression in Cholesterol-Fed Mice” https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jos/62/12/62_1049/_article
- “Submerged-Culture Mycelia and Broth of the Maitake Medicinal Mushroom Grifola frondosa (Higher Basidiomycetes) Alleviate Type 2 Diabetes-Induced Alterations in Immunocytic Function” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26349512/