Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, maitake contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels

Maitake is an edible mushroom consumed widely in Asia as food and used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes and hypertension. Maitake extracts are commercially available as dietary supplements marketed to “enhance immune function” and to treat HIV and cancer. Beta 1,6-glucan, a protein bound polysaccharide, has been identified as the active constituent

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is an edible mushroom known in the U.S. as “hen of the woods” because in appearance it resembles the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen. In addition to its anti-cancer, anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties, maitake may also help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar.


Grifola frondosa, commonly known as the dancing mushroom or Maitake is regarded to impart vitality to health. A β-glucan purified from G. frondosa enhances the efficacy of anti-cancer agent cisplatin

Maitake mushrooms and maitake extracts

Maitake mushrooms and the maitake D-fraction prepared from them contain the sugar compound called beta glucan (sometimes called beta glycan).

Japanese studies using an injectable type of maitake-D have found that it boosted the immune system and slowed or stopped the spread of breast and liver cancer in animal studies. A phase 1 study is currently being carried out in the USA to see whether beta glucan can help a biological therapy called rituximab to work better. It is for young patients with lymphoma or leukemia that has come back after previous treatment. Another trial is looking at whether maitake extract affects breast cancer.

A US study tested another complex sugar compound from maitake mushrooms called grifola frondosa in breast cancer patients. The study aimed to find out if the extract affected the immune system. Patients took the extract by mouth for 3 weeks. The researchers took blood tests to measure any effects. One patient stopped taking the extract because of sickness and joint swelling.  Another stopped because of a rash and itching. The researchers found that the extract boosted some immune functions but slowed others. So we don’t yet know whether this compound can help the immune system to fight cancer.


Maitake as Your Flu Shot

This mushroom hails from northern Japan and is recognized by the American Cancer Society to boost immunity and to limit and even reverse tumor growth.

Maitakes (and all of these great mushrooms) are high in compounds called beta glucans, which are helpful sugars (polysaccharides) found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and algae. Research from NYU’s Langone Medical Center shows beta glucans alter white blood cells and modulate immune function. They have been successfully used in combination with other therapies for high cholesterol, diabetes, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and to boost immunity in those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The way beta glucans work is that they stimulate the immune system and activate certain cells and proteins that attack cancer and pathogens that don’t belong in a healthy body. Lab studies in some cell cultures and mice have shown that they appear to slow the growth of cancer.