Maitake

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Maitake

Common Names

  • King of mushrooms
  • Dancing mushroom
  • Cloud mushroom
  • Hen of the woods

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.


How It Works

Maitake demonstrated anticancer effects in lab studies. Research is underway to test its anticancer effects in humans.

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, it contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan.

Maitake extract may stimulate the immune system. Animal studies suggest it may slow tumor growth and lower blood sugar levels, but data are limited. More studies are being conducted to determine whether maitake has the same effects in humans.

Purported Uses
  • To prevent and treat cancer
    Lab studies and a small case study in humans suggest maitake extracts can slow tumor growth and stimulate certain immune cells.
  • To manage diabetes
    Maitake reduced blood glucose levels in a study of rats. Human data are lacking.
  • To lower high cholesterol
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To lower high blood pressure
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • As an immune stimulant
    Maitake stimulates certain immune cells in lab experiments. It also appeared to stimulate immune function in a small group of cancer patients. Large studies are needed.
  • To lose weight
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
Do Not Take If
  • You are taking blood sugar-lowering medications: Maitake may increase their effects in type-2 diabetic patients.
  • You are taking warfarin: A case report suggests maitake can interact with warfarin, resulting in an elevated international normalized ratio (INR).
Side Effects
  • An increase in the number of white blood cells has been reported, which may indicate an allergic reaction.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Grifola frondosa
Clinical Summary

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

In preclinical studies, various formulations suggest protective effects against parasites (32), high insulin and lipid levels (12) (34), and inflammation (19). Antitumor potential (13) (16) (20) (30) (31), enhanced bone marrow colony formation, reduced doxorubicin toxicity (11), and enhanced interferon activity (18) have also been shown. In murine models, orally administered extracts promoted maturation of hematopoietic cells to functionally active myeloid cells, enhanced peripheral blood leukocyte recovery following chemotoxic bone marrow injury (17), and protected against cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression (33).

Data in humans are limited. In a small case series, tumor regression or significant improvements in symptoms were observed in some subjects who took maitake extract (5). In small trials, oral maitake extract appeared to have immunomodulatory effects in postmenopausal breast cancer patients (14), and enhanced neutrophil and monocyte function in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (25). More studies are underway to evaluate maitake’s anticancer potential.

Food Sources

Maitake mushroom is an edible fungus. The whole mushroom can be fried or boiled.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer 
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Immunostimulation
  • Weight loss
Mechanism of Action

Preclinical studies suggest antidiabetic effects with alpha-glucan via increased insulin sensitivity on insulin receptors and decreased insulin resistance in peripheral target tissues (12). Antilipidemic effects with maitake polysaccharides occurred by modulating gut microbial phylotypes and regulating genes involved in hepatic lipid and cholesterol metabolism (34).

In other experiments, maitake activated various effector cells such as macrophages, NK and T cells, IL-1, and superoxide anions (2) (3) (4) (13). It may modulate antigen presentation by protecting against tumor implantation following transfer of dendritic cells from tumor-bearing mice treated with maitake (15). Maitake D fraction demonstrated antitumor activity by upregulating proapoptotic BAK-1 (23), blocking tumor invasiveness, and reducing angiogenesis (26). It also enhanced growth and differentiation of mouse bone marrow cells treated with doxorubicin (11). Maitake polysaccharides induced apoptosis via the mitochondrial-dependent apoptotic pathway in human breast cancer cells (27). The beta glucan GFPBW1 activated macrophages via the Dectin-1/Syk/NF-κB signaling pathway (24), and oral alpha-glucan activated dendritic cells and macrophages in small intestine lymphoid tissue, inducing a systemic antitumor T-cell response (28).

Contraindications

Maitake may not be appropriate for those taking hypoglycemic medications because it can have synergistic effects (9).

Adverse Reactions

Asymptomatic eosinophilia (25).

Herb-Drug Interactions

Warfarin: A case report suggests maitake can interact with warfarin, resulting in INR elevation (21).
Hypoglycemic medications: Maitake may increase their effects in type-2 diabetic patients (9).

Herb Lab Interactions

Maitake may lower blood glucose levels (9).

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
References
  1. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms, 3rd ed. Loveland (CO): Interweave Press; 1996.
  2. Adachi K, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Potentiation of host-mediated antitumor activity in mice by beta glucan obtained from Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1987;35:262-70.
  3. Kubo K, Aoki H. Nanba H. Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (Maitake). Biol Pharm Bull 1994;17:1106-10.
  4. Horio H, Ohtsuru M. Maitake (Grifola frondosa) improve glucose tolerance of experimental diabetic rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 2001;47:57-63.
  5. Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Can Maitake MD-fraction aid cancer patients? Altern Med Rev 2002;7:236-9.
  6. Miura NN. Blood clearance of (1—>3)-beta-D-glucan in MRL lpr/lpr mice. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 1996;13:51-7.
  7. Ohno N, et al. Characterization of the antitumor glucan obtained from liquid-cultured Grifola frondosa. Chem Pharm Bull 1986;34:1709-1715.
  8. Nanba H, Kubo K. Maitake D-fraction: Healing and preventive potential for cancer. J Orthomolecular Med 1997;12:43-9.
  9. Konno S, et al. A possible hypoglycaemic effect of maitake mushroom on Type 2 diabetic patients. Diabet Med 2001 Dec;18(12):1010.
  10. Yamada Y, et al. Antitumor effect of orally administered extracts from fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chemotherapy 1990;38:790-6.
  11. Lin H, et al. Maitake beta-glucan MD-fraction enhances bone marrow colony formation and reduces doxorubicin toxicity in vitro. Int Immunopharmacol 2004 Jan;4(1):91-9.
  12. Hong L, Xun M, Wutong W. Anti-diabetic effect of an alpha-glucan from fruit body of maitake (Grifola frondosa) on KK-Ay mice. Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;59(4):575-82.
  13. Masuda Y, Murata Y, Hayashi M, Nanba H. Inhibitory effect of MD-Fraction on tumor metastasis: involvement of NK cell activation and suppression of intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 expression in lung vascular endothelial cells. Biol Pharm Bull 2008 Jun;31(6):1104-8.
  14. Deng G, Lin H, Seidman A, et al. A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: immunological effects. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2009 Sep;135(9):1215-21
  15. Harada N, Kodama N, Nanba H. Relationship between dendritic cells and the D-fraction-induced Th-1 dominant response in BALB/c tumor-bearing mice. Cancer Lett. 2003;192(2):181-7.
  16. Shomori K, Yamamoto M, Arifuku I, Teramachi K, Ito H. Antitumor effects of a water-soluble extract from Maitake (Grifola frondosa) on human gastric cancer cell lines. Oncol Rep. 2009 Sep;22(3):615-20.
  17. Lin H, de Stanchina E, Zhou XK, et al. Maitake beta-glucan promotes recovery of leukocytes and myeloid cell function in peripheral blood from paclitaxel hematotoxicity. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2010 Jun;59(6):885-97.
  18. Louie B, Rajamahanty S, Won J, Choudhury M, Konno S. Synergistic potentiation of interferon activity with maitake mushroom d-fraction on bladder cancer cells. BJU Int. 2010 Apr;105(7):1011-5.
  19. Lee JS, Park SY, Thapa D, et al. Grifola frondosa water extract alleviates intestinal inflammation by suppressing TNF-alpha production and its signaling. Exp Mol Med. 2010 Feb 28;42(2):143-54.
  20. Masuda Y, Ito K, Konishi M, Nanba H. A polysaccharide extracted from Grifola frondosa enhances the anti-tumor activity of bone marrow-derived dendritic cell-based immunotherapy against murine colon cancer. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2010 Oct;59(10):1531-41.
  21. Hanselin MR, Vande Griend JP, Linnebur SA. INR elevation with maitake extract in combination with warfarin. Ann Pharmacother. 2010 Jan;44(1):223-4.
  22. 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 Dec;16(12):1295-9.
  23. Soares R, Meireles M, Rocha A, et al. Maitake (D fraction) mushroom extract induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells by BAK-1 gene activation.J Med Food. 2011 Jun;14(6):563-72.
  24. Fang J, Wang Y, Lv X, et al. Structure of a β-glucan from Grifola frondosa and its antitumor effect by activating Dectin-1/Syk/NF-κB signaling. Glycoconj J. 2012 Aug;29(5-6):365-77.
  25. Wesa KM, Cunningham-Rundles S, Klimek VM, et al. Maitake mushroom extract in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS): a phase II study. Cancer Immunol Immunother. (2015) 64:237–247.
  26. Roldan-Deamicis A, Alonso E, Brie B, Braico DA, Balogh GA. Maitake Pro4X has anti-cancer activity and prevents oncogenesis in BALBc mice. Cancer Med. 2016 Sep;5(9):2427-41.
  27. Zhang Y, Sun D, Meng Q, Guo W, Chen Q, Zhang Y. Grifola frondosa polysaccharides induce breast cancer cell apoptosis via the mitochondrial-dependent apoptotic pathway. Int J Mol Med. 2017 Oct;40(4):1089-1095.
  28. Masuda Y, Nakayama Y, Tanaka A, Naito K, Konishi M. Antitumor activity of orally administered maitake α-glucan by stimulating antitumor immune response in murine tumor. PLoS One. 2017 Mar 9;12(3):e0173621.
  29. Bao H, Ran P, Sun L et al. Griflola frondosa (GF) produces significant antidepressant effects involving AMPA receptor activation in mice. Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):299-305.
  30. Mao G, Li Q, Deng C, et al. The synergism and attenuation effect of Selenium (Se)-enriched Grifola frondosa (Se)-polysaccharide on 5-Fluorouracil (5-Fu) in Heps-bearing mice. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Feb;107(Pt B):2211-2216.
  31. Zhao F, Zhao J, Song L, Zhang YQ, Guo Z, Yang KH. The induction of apoptosis and autophagy in human hepatoma SMMC-7721 cells by combined treatment with vitamin C and polysaccharides extracted from Grifola frondosa. Apoptosis. 2017 Nov;22(11):1461-1472.
  32. Sultana SS, Ghosh J, Chakraborty S, et al. Selective in vitro inhibition of Leishmania donovani by a semi-purified fraction of wild mushroom Grifola frondosa. Exp Parasitol. 2018 Sep;192:73-84.
  33. Meng M, Guo M, Feng C, Wang R, Cheng D, Wang C. Water-soluble polysaccharides from Grifola frondosa fruiting bodies protect against immunosuppression in cyclophosphamide-induced mice via JAK2/STAT3/SOCS signal transduction pathways. Food Funct. 2019 Aug 1;10(8):4998-5007.
  34. Li L, Guo WL, Zhang W, et al. Grifola frondosa polysaccharides ameliorate lipid metabolic disorders and gut microbiota dysbiosis in high-fat diet fed rats. Food Funct. 2019 May 22;10(5):2560-2572.
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