Maitake Mushroom 10:1 Extract – 500mg Per Capsule
60 Vegetarian Capsules
Take up to two capsules, once a day. One bottle should last about 30 days with daily use.
What are Maitake Mushrooms?
The King of Mushrooms
Maitake or Grifola frondosa is an edible mushroom from East Asia, now widely cultivated around the world for its nutritional and medicinal values. In the wild, it forms huge clusters at the tree base during the autumn months. Impressive size has earned it the nickname: “the king of mushrooms” .
This mushroom has recently gained popularity in the west for its health and vitality-promoting effects. People from Japan and China have used it for centuries in their cuisine and traditional medicine.
Did you know? In Japanese, “maitake” means dancing mushroom. Legend says that people would dance with joy upon finding this mushroom in the wild, knowing about its healing properties.
Traditional and Modern Uses
Ancient medical scripts from the east mention maitake as a powerful remedy to protect the lungs and liver and boost “qi” or life force. Traditional Chinese medicine uses this mushroom as an adaptogen — a tonic that balances the entire body and improves stress resilience [2, 3].
In modern medicine, people mostly use maitake to enhance immunity, combat diabetes, and support cancer treatment .
This post reviews the scientific evidence to determine the potential uses & benefits of maitake, while pointing out significant drawbacks and limitations.
- Stimulates the immune response
- May improve metabolic health
- May have anti-cancer effects
- May induce ovulation
- Limited clinical evidence
- May cause allergic reactions
- Unknown safety for pregnant and nursing women
Active Components & Mechanism of Action
The primary active ingredients in the fruit body are beta-glucans, polysaccharides with versatile health benefits. In maitake, they are fused with protein to form specific glycoproteins: D-fraction and SX-fraction. This mushroom is rich in other metabolites and healthy fiber, too .
A decent amount of research backs up the uses of maitake D-fraction. Japanese scientists took a step further and purified a so-called MD-fraction, which supposedly offers therapeutic advantages .
- Boost the immune response
- Reduce oxidative stress
- Inhibit cancers cells
- Improve metabolic health
Different polyphenols enhance the antioxidant properties of maitake mushrooms .
Besides their active components, the excellent nutritional profile makes maitake a popular cooking ingredient around the globe. They provide :
- Dietary fiber
- Essential amino acids
- Copper and other minerals
- A range of B vitamins
- Vitamin D
At the same time, maitake mushrooms are low in fat, sodium, and calories.
Like all mushrooms, maitake produces vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) when exposed to UV/sunlight. This form of vitamin D is not as potent as D3 (cholecalciferol) but still contributes to bone health, immunity, and other vital functions .
Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms
Insufficient Evidence for:
The following benefits are only supported by low-quality clinical studies and preclinical research. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of maitake for any of the below-listed uses. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.
1) Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce more male reproductive hormones, which may cause acne, weight gain, and reduced fertility .
A product containing the SX-fraction and maitake powder helped induce ovulation and increased the effectiveness of standard treatment (clomiphene citrate) in 80 women with PCOS. When taken alone, the maitake product was less effective than clomiphene .
Patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) have impaired bone marrow function, which reduces their blood cell counts and increases the risk of infection. In 18 MDS patients, maitake extract enhanced the production and activity of neutrophils and monocytes, thus improving their immune response .
In 34 older breast cancer patients, post-treatment supplementation with a maitake extract boosted some immunity parameters but suppressed others. The authors called for further research on maitake’s immune-modulating effects .
Studies in animals and test tubes indicate the potential of maitake polysaccharides to stimulate the bone marrow and increase the activity of white blood cells. A combination with another medicinal mushroom, shiitake, may be even more potent [16, 17, 18].
The D-fraction (beta-glucan) is primarily responsible for the observed immune-boosting activities .
3) Anti-Cancer Effects
The findings discussed below stem from preliminary clinical research and animal studies. They should guide further investigation, but you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of the anti-cancer effects. Maitake supplements aren’t approved for cancer prevention or treatment.
Potent effects of maitake on the immune system have led scientists to investigate its anti-cancer potential. The US National Cancer Institute has acknowledged the anti-cancer and immune-stimulating properties of this mushroom. Chinese doctors already use D-fraction as a complementary cancer drug [20, 5].
One trial tested a combination of maitake powder and D-fraction in cancer patients who discontinued chemotherapy due to side effects. Significant improvement or cancer regression occurred in :
- 69% (11/16) of breast cancer patients
- 58% (7/12) of liver cancer patients
- 63% (5/8) lung cancer patients
Patients with leukemia, stomach cancer, and brain cancer saw less significant improvements.
In 10 patients with advanced cancer, D-fraction was able to slow down the cancer progression (metastases), reduce tumor markers, and boost the activity of tumor-fighting NK cells .
The same maitake extract increased NK cell activity 1.2-2.7 times in 8 cancer patients and maintained the change for one year .
The above trials were conducted by the same team of Japanese authors, and they have significant limitations, such as:
- A potential conflict of interest
- Tiny sample sizes
- The lack of placebo controls
We should wait for larger, well-designed clinical studies before drawing any conclusions.
In addition to supporting immunity, the D-fraction can directly combat cancer cells by making them less invasive and shortening their lifespan .
In one study on mice, the D-fraction even suppressed the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), infamous for poor prognosis and the lack of adequate treatment. It induced cancer cell death and reduced their ability to form lung metastases .
- Boosting nitric oxide
- Preventing the growth of a tumor’s blood vessels
- Stimulating NK cells and macrophages
- Inducing cancer cell death
- Suppressing regulatory T cells
Although these results promise a lot, clinical research has yet to confirm their application in humans.
A group of doctors reported a series of cases in which they successfully treated type 2 diabetes with maitake polysaccharides. They observed significantly lower blood glucose and HbA1c levels, even in the absence of standard treatment .
That said, we can’t base any conclusions on individual case reports.
Maitake extract was able to improve glucose control in multiple studies on diabetic animals. Most of them tested the SX-fraction and discovered its potential to enhance insulin sensitivity [7, 39, 40].
According to one study on mice, maitake may improve glucose control and metabolic health by activating PPAR-delta .
Still, the potential anti-diabetic effects of maitake mushrooms lack proper clinical background.
Animal and Cell Research (Lacking Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of maitake for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts but should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
Both SX- and D-fraction reduced hypertension (high blood pressure) and inflammation in rats. They acted by partly inhibiting the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which is how some blood pressure meds work [42, 43, 44].
Dietary fiber from maitake mushrooms was able to lower total cholesterol in rats by supporting its fecal removal .
Pain and Inflammation
In one rat study, maitake extract reduced inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins such as NF-κB, IL-1b, TNF-a, and COX-2. It also blocked the pain caused by stomach contractions and skin irritation .
In rats exposed to mercury, maitake helped cut blood mercury levels in half and reduced liver and kidney damage caused by this toxin .
Limitations and Caveats
Despite the promising health effects of maitake mushrooms, the available clinical evidence remains limited and doesn’t allow for reliable conclusions .
Most clinical studies tested maitake extracts, not the whole mushrooms. In addition to that, cancer-related trials come with notable limitations discussed above.
Maitake Side Effects & Precautions
Most patients tolerated maitake mushrooms and extracts well. Mild digestive issues were the most common side effect. In rare cases, they may provoke an allergic reaction with rash, swelling, and breathing difficulties [58, 13, 14].
There’s not enough safety data for the use of maitake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women in these sensitive groups may want to avoid them just in case, while others should consult with their doctor before taking therapeutic doses.
Supplement-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.
One case report documented a probable interaction between maitake D-fraction and a blood thinner, warfarin .
Due to their anti-diabetic and blood pressure-lowering effects, maitake supplements might interact with drugs for these conditions.
If you’re taking any of the above drugs, make sure not to take maitake supplements before consulting with your doctor.
These statements have not been not