This information describes the common uses of Maitake, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

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

How It Works

Maitake demonstrated anticancer effects in laboratory 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. 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. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.

Purported Uses

  • To prevent and treat cancer
    Laboratory studies and small uncontrolled studies in humans show that maitake extracts slow the growth of tumors and stimulate certain immune cells.
  • To manage diabetes
    Maitake reduces blood glucose levels in rats.
  • To lower high cholesterol
    There are no data to back this claim.
  • To lower high blood pressure
    There are no studies to support this claim.
  • As an immune stimulant
    Maitake stimulates the activity of certain immune cells in laboratory studies and in mice. It has also been shown to stimulate immune function in a small group of cancer patients. Larger studies are needed.
  • To lose weight
    There are no data to back this claim.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking blood sugar-lowering medications: Maitake can increase their effects.
  • You are taking warfarin: Maitake may interact with warfarin resulting in an elevated international normalized ratio (INR).

Side Effects

An increased number of white blood cells which may indicate an allergic reaction.