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MAITAKE (Grifola frondosa)


Kumotake ("Cloud Mushroom")
The Dancing Butterfly Mushroom
Sheep's Head


A large, fleshy polypore comprised of multiple, overlapping layers of caps that are 2 to 10 cm in diameter. The caps are attached to branching stems proliferating from a common base with white spores coming from white pores on the underside of the cap. There are several strains ranging in color from dark grey brown to tan yellow. The color tends to lighten as the mushrooms mature. This species is delicious and much sought after for both its culinary characteristics and its strong medicinal qualities. Medicinally active components are found in the fruit bodies and also the mycelium of this species. Dried and powdered mycelia has a pleasantly sweet taste.

Known Active Constituents:

Polysaccharides, both alpha- and beta-D-glucans, with 1,3 beta-D- glucans and 1,6 beta-glucans appearing to be most active. Maitake can contain up from 10 to 50% beta-glucans on a dry weight basis.
Protein, approximately 25% dry weight basis
Vitamins B1, B2, C and D2 (ergosterol), Niacin
Potassium, Magnesium, Selenium, Calcium, Phosphorus

Properties of Modes of Action:

National Cancer Institute tested an acid extracted fraction of the maitake mushroom on the HIV virus. The results showed significant efficacy against HIV early in 1992, one year after the National Institute of Health in Japan announced the same conclusion. It was reported that the Maitake extracts had no negative side effects for patients and was comparable in efficacy to AZT.

This mushroom contains high concentrations of 1,6 beta-D-glucans. These compounds exert their effects by activating various effector cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells, T cells, interleukin-1 and superoxide anions, components of our bodies' immune system all of which have anti-cancer activity. These glucans were first characterized by Ohno et al. 1986. His work showed strong anti-tumor activity in mice against solid tumors. In his study, one-third to one-half of the tumors showed complete remission. In an in vitro study by Lovy et al., 1999, a water extract of Maitake significantly slowed the growth of T-4 leukemia and Hela cervical cancer cells. Nanba, 1997, reported results of a clinical study of 165 advanced stage (III-IV) cancer patients who received Maitake extracts. Tumor regression or significant symptom improvements were observed in 11 of 15 breast-cancer patients, 12 of 18 lung-cancer patients and 7 of 15 liver-cancer patients. These response rates improved 12 to 28% if Maitake was administered in addition to chemotherapy.

Kubo, et al. (1994) reported that Maitake appeared to help lower and moderate glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance. Studies by Konno et al. (2001) and Manohar (2002) also suggest that Maitake may be useful in modulating glucose levels in diabetic patients.

In clinical trials with 32 chronic hepatitis B patients, there was a 72% recovery rate in the Maitake group as compared to 57% in the control group. Seroconversion from HBeAg positive to negative was 44% in the Maitake group as compared to 13% in the control group
Research in Japan has shown that Maitake increases the recovery ability of skin that has been subjected to stress and also increases the amount of blood flow to the skin (see Section "Recent Unpublished Medical Research)

Selected References:

vAdachi, K. et al., 1987. "Potentiation of host-mediated antitumor activity of in mice by B-glucan obtained from Grifola frondosa (Maitake) Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 35:262-270.

Adachi, K. et al., 1988. "Blood pressure lowering activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (Maitake)". Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 3:1000-1006.

Fullerton, S.A., A.A. Samadi, D.G. Tortorelis, C. Mallouh,
H. Tazaki & S. Kunno, 2000. "Induction of Apoptosis in
Human Prostatic Cancer Cells with Beta-Glucan
(Maitake Mushroom Polysaccharide).
Molecular Urology. 41): 7-13.
Exploration of effective treatments of prostate cancer with extract of the Maitake mushrooms.

Kubo, K., H. Aoki, H. Nanda, 1994. "Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (Maitake)". Biol. Pharm. Bull. 17(8): 1106-1110.

Konno, S., D. Tortorelis, S. Fullerton, A. Samadi, J. Hettiarcarchchi, & H. Tazaki, 2001. "A possible hypoglycaimic effect of maitake mushroom on Type 2 diabetic patients". Diabetes Medicine Dec: 18(12):1010.

Konno, S. et al., 2002. " The anticancer and hypoglycemic effects of polysaccharides in edible and medicinal Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa (Dicks.: Fr.) S.F. Gray). International Journal of medicinal mushrooms. 4:185-195.

Lovy, A., B. Knowles, R. Labbe, L. Nolan, 1999. "Activity of edible mushrooms against the growth of human T4 leukemia cancer cells and Plasmodium falciparum" Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants. 6(4): 49-57.

Manohar, V., N. Talpur, B. Echard, S. Liberman, & H. Preuss, 2002. "Effects of a water soluble extract of maitake mushroom on circulating glucose/insulin concentrations in KK mice" Diabetes Obes Metab Jan: 4 (1):43-48.

Nanba, H., 1992. "Immunostimulant activity in-vivo and anti-HIV activity in-vitro of 3 branched beta 1-6 glucans extracted from Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa)". Proceedings of the VIII International Conference on AID and the III STD World Congress.

Nanba, H., 1997. "Maitake D-fraction: Healing and Preventative Potential for Cancer". Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Vol. 12: 43-49.

Ohno, N. et al., 1986. "Characterization of the anti-tumor glucan obtained from liquid-cultured Grifola frondosa". Chem Pharm Bull. 34:1709-1715.

Zhuang, C. and Takashi Mizuno. 1999. "Biological responses from Grifola frondosa (Dick.:Fr.) S.F. Gray - Maitake (Aphyllphoromomycetideae). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 1:317-324.

Research on the antitumor activity, immunological enhancement, cytotoxicity, anti-HIV activity, antihypertensive activity, antidiabetic activity, antihyperlipemic activity, and antiobesity activity of the delicious Maitake mushrooms.

Disclaimer: This information is intended for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a physician or other health care professional and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. Taking natural products should be a decision based upon personal research and the advice of health care professionals and be based upon a thorough understanding of the role food-derived medicinally-active compounds play in health and wellbeing. A health care professional should be consulted before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Do not discontinue any other medical treatments without first consulting your doctor.

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