Mushrooms in History
Mushrooms have a long and complex relationship with humans. Some mushrooms are feared as poisonous, while others are revered as a sacred condiment, reserved in times past only for royal palates. Although there are over 100,000 different varieties of mushrooms, only approximately 600-700 of these are used as a source of food by cultures all over the world. Their delicate taste and texture add a culinary delight to most any dish. In addition, mushrooms are full of many nutritional components, including niacin (B3), thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B-2), many minerals and essential fatty acids.
In the Orient, the medicinal use of mushrooms has been well documented for thousands of years. They were believed to prevent aging by acting as an adaptogen-an overall tonic that improved health and wellness. The ancients explained this effect by saying that medicinal mushrooms increased “chi”, or life force energy.
Maitake – A Special Mushroom
A very special mushroom, Maitake, is both delicious and highly medicinal. Maitake is indigenous to the northeastern area of Japan, where it has long been used as both food and medicine. It can weigh over 100 pounds in the wild and grows at the foot of oak trees. The name “Maitake” means, “dancing mushrooms”. It has no caps, but is rippled in appearance – a look which earned the plant its name. Other stories say that people who found it growing in the wild would “dance with joy” because of its highly perceived value. Maitake derived its genus and species name, Grifolia frondosa, from Italy, where it is prized as a delicacy. In mythology, the “Grifolia” is a half eagle, half lion beast. It’s interesting to note that both the lion and the eagle are associated in cultures around the world with strength and wisdom, two of the health benefits traditionally attributed to Maitake.
Cultivation of Maitake began in the 1980’s. Today it is available exclusively from Nature’s Answer® as a liquid herbal extract dietary supplement called Maitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™ (alcohol-free). We use the finest quality organic Maitake mushrooms from Japan. These mushrooms grow under special conditions, ensuring the high presence of beta-glucans, the mushroom’s highly active ingredient.
Science Backs Folklore
As is so often the case with plants that have a long folkloric history of use, modern science has found specific medicinal components that explain the superb healing properties of mushrooms. These active chemical components have been identified as “polysaccharides”. “Polysaccharides” stand out as having the specific and powerful ability to increase the activity of white blood cells, in particular, T-lymphocytes. White blood cells are part of the immune system, traveling through the body and engulfing invading micro-organisms, as well as damaged cells, including cancer. They function in a similar way to “pac-man”, reaching out and gobbling up these disease-causing components.
A specific polysaccharide called beta-glucan is especially effective in activating white blood cells. Well-documented studies have shown that the Maitake mushroom contains a specific beta-glucan component –- a 3-branched, B-1, 6 glucan, the active ingredient that gives the Maitake mushroom its highly potent and effective medicinal benefits. By increasing white blood cell motility, beta-glucans increase the overall function of the immune system!
Nature’s Answer® has perfected the extraction process that guarantees that their Maitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™ contains a minimum of 14 mg of Beta-1,6-Glucan with Beta-1,3 branches per serving. This potent formula offers the most effective and optimal way to experience the health benefits of Mother Nature’s potent immune enhancer.
Beta-glucan has been widely studied at well-respected university laboratories worldwide including The National Institute of Health in Japan, The National Cancer Institute, The Department of Surgery at Tulane University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, to name a few. Positive outcomes have been reported from this particular branch of beta-glucans for a range of health conditions including HIV/Aids, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Triglycerides, High Cholesterol, Constipation and Obesity. One study showed a decrease of symptoms associated with cancer in patients taking Maitake mushroom extract. Symptoms included tumor inhibition and prevention of metastasis (spread) of cancer, as well as enhancement of the effectiveness of conventional chemotherapeutic agents with fewer related side effects. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that patients supplementing their diets with Maitake while undergoing chemotherapy did not suffer from the common side effects associated with a decreased immune system, once again illustrating Maitake’s power as an immune stimulant.
One of the difficulties with many medicinal mushrooms is that they lose much of their effectiveness when taken orally. Cooking and heating dried or fresh mushrooms may cause a loss of heat sensitive and water or fat-soluble nutrients. Nature’s Answer®’s Maitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™ liquid herbal extract provides the ideal way to supplement one’s diet with Maitake. For general use as a dietary supplement, take 1 ml (approx. 28 drops) 3 times a day directly or in a small amount of juice or water. Therapeutic dosing forMaitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™ is from .5 milligrams to 1 milligram of pure extract per kilo of body weight. Dose should be spread out evenly throughout the day.
NOTE: To find your weight in kilos, multiply your weight in pounds times 0.4536. Example: 150 lb. = 68 kilos (150 x .4536 = 68.04). Dose range would be from 34 to 68 mg throughout the day.
The benefits of Maitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™ may be maximized by combining it with Nature’s Answer®’s Maitake Fruiting Body & Mycelia, or with the whole mushroom.
To date there has been no evidence to suggest any toxicity for either the Maitake mushroom, or Maitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™. Both are generally recognized as safe. Remember that Maitake has been used as a food for over one thousand years without any sign of problems. If pregnant or in doubt it is best to check with the health practitioner of your choice.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.