The public is starting to understand the value of mushrooms. I’m going to spend some time educating about mushrooms starting with my favorite, Maitake. Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushroom has great medicinal qualities, tastes fantastic, and can be readily accessible. It has been cultivated since the 70’s but it's cultivated flavor does not do justice for the wild crafted version.
Maitake means dancing mushroom in Japanese theorized to be due to people jumping with joy when found. I’m pretty sure I have done this. Hen of the Woods is another nickname for this beautiful mushroom, when found at the trunk of an oak tree it looks like a chicken hen taking a rest.
Medicinal constituents found in maitake are polysaccharides (Fraction-D, Fraction-SX, alpha and Beta-D-glucans), lectins, proteases, (immune stimulating, cancer fighting glucose modulating, and cell killing properties) lipids, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidic acid (healthy fats, brain food, fat emulsifiers) Vitamin D2, B1, B2 (provitamins and vitamins), and a whole bunch of trace minerals.
Maitake is being used in integrative cancer settings and for cancer survivors. It is found in formulas to ward off viruses, has shown significant glucose lowering effects, has a mild blood pressure lowering effect, and is a liver protectant.
For a generally healthy individual Maitake can be food as medicine by adding great flavor to many dishes, my favorite being soups and side dishes. It is well known that if germs get near my loved ones you will find a big pot of soup with Maitake on my stove.