The Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms

What You Need to Know

maitake mushrooms
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Maitake is a type of medicinal mushroom said to offer a wide range of health benefits. For instance, maitake is often used to boost the immune system and, in turn, fight certain infections. Also called Hen of the Woods mushrooms, maitake is touted as a natural remedy for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In addition, maitake is sometimes marketed for its supposed benefits as a weight-loss aid.

Research on Maitake's Health Benefits

In lab research, scientists have found that maitake contains beta-glucan (a substance shown to stimulate the immune system). By spurring activity in immune cells (such as natural killer cells and T-cells), beta-glucan is thought to help combat cancer. However, researchers have yet to demonstrate that maitake offers any cancer-fighting benefits for humans.

Here's a look at maitake's other potential health benefits:

1) High Blood Pressure

Maitake may help lower blood pressure, according to animal-based research. For instance, a 2010 study on rats found that maitake helped protect against high blood pressure (in addition to enhancing insulin sensitivity and curbing some aspects of inflammation).

2) Diabetes

Some animal studies suggest that maitake may defend against diabetes. In two reports published in 2002, for example, maitake was found to reduce insulin resistance in rats.

A health condition known to raise your risk of type 2 diabetes (as well as heart disease), insulin resistance occurs when the body fails to respond properly to insulin (a hormone that plays a key role in using blood sugar for energy).


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular or long-term use of maitake.

 However, there's some evidence that maitake may interact with certain medicines (such as diabetes medications and blood-thinning drugs).

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Using Maitake for Health 

If you're considering the use of maitake supplements, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen. Given the lack of science behind maitake's health benefits, supplements made from these mushrooms can't currently be recommended for the treatment or prevention of any health condition.

The mushrooms do taste great when used in cooking though, so enjoy them in soups, roasted in the oven, or in most recipes that call for mushrooms.


Mayell M. "Maitake extracts and their therapeutic potential." Altern Med Rev. 2001 Feb;6(1):48-60.

Preuss HG, Echard B, Bagchi D, Perricone NV. "Maitake mushroom extracts ameliorate progressive hypertension and other chronic metabolic perturbations in aging female rats." Int J Med Sci. 2010 Jun 7;7(4):169-80.

Talpur N, Echard B, Dadgar A, Aggarwal S, Zhuang C, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. "Effects of Maitake mushroom fractions on blood pressure of Zucker fatty rats." Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2002;112(1-4):68-82.

Talpur NA, Echard BW, Fan AY, Jaffari O, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. "Antihypertensive and metabolic effects of whole Maitake mushroom powder and its fractions in two rat strains." Mol Cell Biochem. 2002 Aug;237(1-2):129-36.

Ulbricht C, Weissner W, Basch E, Giese N, Hammerness P, Rusie-Seamon E, Varghese M, Woods J. "Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa): systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration." J Soc Integr Oncol. 2009 Spring;7(2):66-72.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.