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Maitake

Uses

Botanical names:
Grifola frondosa

Parts Used & Where Grown

Maitake is a very large mushroom, which grows deep in the mountains of northeastern Japan, as well as in North America and Europe. Famous for its taste and health benefits, maitake is also known as the “dancing mushroom.”1 Legend holds that those who found the rare mushroom began dancing with joy. Others attribute its name to the way the fruit bodies of the mushroom overlap each other, giving the appearance of dancing butterflies.

Maitake is extremely sensitive to environmental changes, which have presented many challenges to those cultivating this mushroom. However, Japanese farmers have succeeded in producing high-quality organic maitake mushrooms, allowing for wider availability both in Japan and the U.S. The fruiting body and mycelium of maitake are used medicinally.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
High Cholesterol
Refer to label instructions
The mushroom maitake may lower fat levels in the blood and be useful in lowering cholesterol.
Animal studies suggest that the mushroom maitake may lower fat levels in the blood.2 This research is still preliminary and requires confirmation with controlled human trials.
1 Star
High Triglycerides
Refer to label instructions
Studies suggest that the mushroom maitake may lower fat levels in the blood.

Animal studies suggest the mushroom maitake may lower fat levels in the blood.3 However, this research is still preliminary and requires confirmation by controlled human trials.

1 Star
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions
Maitake mushrooms contain immuno-modulating polysaccharides (including beta-D-glucan) that may be supportive for HIV infection.

Maitake mushrooms, which are currently being studied, contain immuno-modulating polysaccharides (including beta-D-glucan) that may be supportive for HIV infection.4 , 5

1 Star
Immune Function
Refer to label instructions
Complex polysaccharides present in maitake appear to increase immune function.
Complex polysaccharides present in astragalus and in maitake and coriolus mushrooms appear to act as “immunomodulators” and, as such, are being researched for their potential role in AIDS and cancer. Presently, the only human studies on astragalus indicate that it can prevent white blood cell numbers from falling in people given chemotherapy and radiotherapy and can elevate antibody levels in healthy people.6 Maitake has only been studied in animals as a way to increase immune function.7 The primary immuno-activating polysaccharide found in these mushrooms, beta-D-glucan, is well absorbed when taken orally8 and is currently under investigation as a supportive tool for HIV infection. Results from future research will improve the understanding of the possible benefits of these mushrooms and their constituents.
1 Star
Infection
Refer to label instructions
Maitake supports the immune system and protects against microbes.

Herbs that support a person’s immune system in the fight against microbes include the following: American ginseng, andrographis, Asian ginseng, astragalus, coriolus, eleuthero, ligustrum, maitake, picrorhiza, reishi, schisandra, and shiitake.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Historically, maitake has been used as a tonic and adaptogen (a substance that invigorates or strengthens the system). Along with other “medicinal” mushrooms, such as shiitake and reishi, maitake was used as a food to help promote wellness and vitality.

How It Works

Botanical names:
Grifola frondosa

How It Works

A common denominator among some mushrooms and some herbs is the presence of complex polysaccharides in their structure. These active constituents help support immune system function and are sometimes called immunomodulators. The polysaccharides present in maitake have a unique structure and are among the most powerful studied in test tubes to date.9 The primary polysaccharide, beta-D-glucan, is well absorbed when taken orally and is being studied as a potential tool for prevention and treatment of cancer and as a adjunctive treatment for HIV infection.10 , 11 Animal studies suggest maitake may lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides.12 , 13 However, this research is still preliminary and requires human trials for confirmation.

How to Use It

Maitake can be used as a food or tea and is also available as a capsule or tablet containing the entire fruiting body of the mushroom. For maitake, the fruit body is higher in polysaccharides than the mycelium, which is why it is recommended. Whole-mushroom maitake supplements, 3–7 grams per day, can be taken.14 Liquid maitake extracts with variable concentrations of polysaccharides are available, and should be taken as directed.

Interactions

Botanical names:
Grifola frondosa

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Warfarin

    In a case report, ingestion of a maitake extract appeared to enhance the effect of warfarin in an elderly man. Although a cause-effect relation was not demonstrated, people taking warfarin should not take maitake without medical supervision.15

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Grifola frondosa

Side Effects

At the time of writing, there were no well-known side effects caused by this supplement.

References

1. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 110–5.

2. Kubo K, Nanba H. Anti-hyperliposis effect of maitake fruit body (Grifola frondosa). I. Biol Pharm Bull 1997;20:781–5.

3. Kubo K, Nanba H. Anti-hyperliposis effect of maitake fruit body (Grifola frondosa). I. Biol Pharm Bull 1997;20:781–5.

4. Yamada Y, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor effect of orally administered extracts from fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chemotherapy 1990;38:790–6.

5. Nanba H. Immunostimulant activity in-vivo and anti-HIV activity in vitro of 3 branched b-1–6-glucans extracted from maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa). VIII International Conference on AIDS, 1992 [abstract].

6. Bone K, Morgan M. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Warwick, Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 13–20.

7. Nanba H. Antitumor activity of orally administered ‘D-fraction’ from maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa). J Naturopathic Med 1993;4:10–5.

8. Pengelly A. Medicinal fungi of the world. Modern Phytotherapist 1996;2:1, 3–8 [review].

9. Nanba H, Hamaguchi AM, Kuroda H. The chemical structure of an antitumor polysaccharide in fruit bodies of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1987;35:1162–8.

10. Yamada Y, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor effect of orally administered extracts from fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chemotherapy 1990;38:790–6.

11. Nanba H. Immunostimulant activity in vivo and anti-HIV activity in vitro of 3 branched b-1–6-glucans extracted from maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa). VIII International Conference on AIDS, Amsterdam, 1992 [abstract].

12. Kubo K, Nanba H. Anti-hyperliposis effect of maitake fruit body (Grifola frondosa). I. Biol Pharm Bull 1997;20:781–5.

13. Adachi K, Nanba H, Otsuka M, Kuroda H. Blood pressure lowering activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1988;36:1000–6.

14. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, 110–5.

15. Hanselin MR. Vande Griend JP, Linnebur SA. INR elevation with maitake extract in combination with warfarin. Ann Pharmacother 2010;44:223–4.

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