By Angelica Mastrodicasa — HBSc University of Toronto – 4th Year Student of Naturopathic Medicine, CCNM Toronto
Maitake and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
As a female studying naturopathic medicine in North America, I have always been aware of female reproductive disorders as they have related to me in my own life. Recently, I’ve started to come across disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in my studies.
For those of you who don’t know, PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder in menstruators of reproductive age, but its etiology is largely unknown which makes it an interesting area for further research.(1) Essentially, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance caused by the ovaries creating excess male hormones.
PCOS Symptoms and Treatments
Researchers suggest that PCOS has multifactorial effects and can lead to profound consequences like infertility, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular concerns if left untreated.(1) In addition to this, a lot of patients with PCOS end up being diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression due to the chronicity and difficulty of living with a disorder that has no cure.(1)
Recently, in our sexual and reproductive health lectures at school we took some time to assess what PCOS really is and to discuss what it’s like for those who live with PCOS.
One student mentioned the excruciating pain patients experience when a cyst in their ovaries has burst. Others spoke about the difficulty with weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and maintaining a regular menstrual cycle when their hormones are so out of sync. It is common for women with polycystic ovary syndrome pcos to experience irregular periods and struggle with maintaining steady blood sugar levels like that often associated with type 2 diabetes.
I have also heard of patients who experience the growth of thick hair on their face and others who struggle to conceive even with the help of conventional medical treatments. All this being said, I knew there must be a way to help so I looked towards mushroom supplements and the research reporting the benefits of maitake mushroom extract and its ability to induce ovulation in patients with PCOS. Some mushroom guides refer to this fungi as "hen of the woods."
Best Mushrooms for PCOS
Maitake, otherwise known as Grifola frondosa, is a medicinal mushroom that may provide some assistance to women suffering with polycystic ovarian syndrome. For PCOS patients it is most convenient to consume maitake mushroom as supplements that are made from the extract of the mushroom.
In one study the researchers took subjects with PCOS who originally failed with first-line drug treatments and gave them a Maitake mushroom extract high in maitake d fraction.(2) They then found that, to a degree, Maitake helped induce egg-production in PCOS patients and that it could be used as a safe additive therapy for them.(2)
In addition, Maitake has been reported to improve insulin resistance which can often be developed in those with endocrine disorders like PCOS.(2) By improving insulin resistance this may prevent women with PCOS from developing diabetes as well as the comorbidities that come alongside diabetes like obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Maitake Mushroom Benefits
Ultimately, treating disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome is quite complex because it presents in so many ways in so many different people. Maitake is also quite complex because it has a variety of medicinal properties, from treating PCOS to increasing immune system strength (through beta glucan concentration), and reducing fatigue in its users.(3) In my opinion, using an integrated approach with numerous safe evidence-based treatments like Maitake is the best way to manage PCOS.
Is there anyone who should not take maitake? Patients shouldn't ingest maitake mushroom within two weeks of surgery or if you have a bleeding disorder. If you are taking medication for diabetes, if you are pregnant, or breast-feeding, check with your health care practitioner before use. Otherwise, it is safe to use over a prolonged period of time with no side effects.
Eversio Wellness offers two products containing high potency organic maitake mushroom extract: the Balance Blend and the Rejuvenate Blend. Either blend can be use daily to safely and naturally address the symptoms of PCOS.
- El Hayek S, Bitar L, Hamdar LH, Mirza FG, Daoud G. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome: An Updated Overview. Front Physiol. 2016;7:124. Published 2016 Apr 5. doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00124
- Chen JT, Tominaga K, Sato Y, Anzai H, Matsuoka R. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) extract induces ovulation in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a possible monotherapy and a combination therapy after failure with first-line clomiphene citrate. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(12):1295-1299. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0696
- Ulbricht C, Weissner W, Basch E, et al. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa): systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2009;7(2):66-72.