Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake Mushroom: Medical Uses

Maitake mushroom is used for anticancer effects, stimulation of the immune system in cancer patients, and as supportive therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy or patients with HIV or AIDS, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, weight loss, or diabetes.

Historical Uses

The maitake is known as the “hen of the woods” and is valued for “maintaining health and promoting longevity”.


This mushroom is cultivated in Japan and native to the northeastern part of that country.

Part Used

• Edible mushroom

Major Chemical Compound

• D-fraction, a polysaccharide

Maitake Mushroom: Clinical Uses

Maitake mushroom is used for anticancer effects, immune stimulation in cancer patients, and adjunct therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is also used for patients with HIV and AIDS, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, weight loss, or diabetes (Natural Medicine, 2000).

Mechanism of Action

The D-fraction of beta-glucan has been shown to possess antitumor activity. It also lowers blood glucose and reduces weight in rats. It has immunostimulant effects (Natural Medicine, 2000). The most recent maitake extract is the MD-fraction, which, combined with the D-fraction, is helpful in the treatment of cancer, HIV, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and hepatitis.

Maitake Mushroom: Dosage

Standardized to D-fraction: 6 mg twice daily between meals

Liquid (1 mg/mL): for general use 5 to 6 drops three times daily between meals (Natural Medicine, 2000).

Side Effects

Maitake mushroom lowers blood glucose levels. If stomach upset occurs, patient may take with food.


• Use cautiously in diabetic patients because of herb’s hypoglycemic effect (Natural Medicine, 2000).

Herb-Drug Interactions

None are known.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

No restrictions are known.

Summary of Studies

Most studies involving animals show weight loss and lowering of blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and lipid levels. No recent clinical studies in humans are available.

Chang (1996). In this review, edible mushrooms such as maitake mushrooms were found to contain functional “nutraceutical” or medicinal properties that benefit the immune system, lower lipids, and have antitumor properties without toxic effecs.

Kubo & Nanba (1996). In a randomized clinical trial with rats that were fed maitake mushroom dried powder and others that were fed cholesterol, the results concluded that maitake mushrooms alter lipid metabolism.

Kabir & Kimura (1989). After 8 weeks, hypertensive rats fed maitake mushrooms showed a reduction in high blood pressure when compared with control rats.

Maitake Mushroom: Warnings

• Lowers blood sugar levels.

• If stomach upset occurs, take with food.

• Don’t use maitake mushroom if you have diabetes.