Many edible mushrooms, such as Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake have been used in Japan and China to develop not only food supplies but also medications. These mushrooms can be used in dishes, concentrates, extracts, liquors, and powdered mushrooms or mycelia.
In the Japanese medical field, three kinds of cancer drugs, such as immunopotentiators, have been developed using these three mushrooms.
How are mushroom concentrates made
Medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake, are boiled whole in water or in powdered form. The extract is then concentrated, and the concentrate is used as a drink. There are several products on the Japanese market: canned “Reishi Tea,” canned “Reishi Oolong Tea,” and a bottled “Cone Drink”, which contains a concentrated extract. There are also many other “healthy tea” products containing mushrooms that are available in teabags.
Mushroom concentrates can be freeze-dried or spray-dried to form granular powders for ease of handling and transportation. In Japan and China, there are many products containing powdered mushroom extracts.
Many of these are also mixed with other supplements such as a mixture of a mushroom extract powder and vitamin C crystals, mixtures of concentrated extracts of various mushrooms, and extracts with other medicinal plants, such as ginseng.
Where can you find these mushrooms?
Maitake usually comes about as a heavy mass at the base of stumps and on the roots of oaks, elms, and other trees. Like many other fungi, maitake’s optimal growing conditions exist within a limited range for temperature, moisture, humidity, and other environmental factors. Parts of northeastern Japan are especially hospitable for maitake.
In the early 1980s Japanese mycologist Hiroaki Nanba of the Pharmaceutical University at Kobe was studying various medicinal mushrooms, especially shiitake. He gradually came to the conclusion, however, that the polysaccharides in Reishi and maitake have a unique structure and were among the most powerful to be studied to date, demonstrating very strong antitumor activity in animal
tests than other mushroom extracts.
The effect of Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms and blood sugar
At least two studies have suggested antidiabetic effects for these mushrooms. In one, Japanese researchers fed genetically diabetic mice a diet containing 20-percent whole maitake powder for eight weeks. The maitake was shown to inhibit a rise in blood glucose. The
researchers also observed glucose-lowering activity. They concluded that their findings suggest maitake is effective at
lowering blood sugar in diabetic animals.
Reishi Shiitake and Maitake for weight loss
Maitake provides some B vitamins, ergosterol/provitamin D2, magnesium, potassium, calcium, unsaturated fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, and other phospholipids, and protein. Maitake does not contain vitamins A or C although substances with chemical properties similar to ascorbic acid have been identified in maitake. Because maitake is rich in fiber yet low in calories and fat, it has been cited as a potential weight-loss aid. Animal studies have shown that maitake as a major component of the diet can inhibit weight gain.