Maitake Extract Research Summary

Considered a gourmet mushroom, Maitake is also an important medicinal mushroom in Oriental medicine. It is especially known for its high content of beta-glucans [71, 72], which are known as potent immune boosters.

Maitake is the Japanese name for the mushroom species Grifola frondosa. American mushroom hunters know it as Hen-of-the-woods. Common in eastern Canada and the United States down to the Mid-Atlantic States, Hen-of-the-woods is one of the most easily recognizable wild gourmet mushrooms.

Maitake extract has been found to increase the so called tumor-necrosis-factor [73, 74, 75] as well as other cancer fighting mechanisms. [76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81] Specific cancer types studied include colorectal, prostate, liver, lung and breast. [82] FDA has approved a Phase II study of Maitake extract on breast and prostate cancer. [83]

Other studies on Maitake extract have focused on its immune enhancing properties in general, [84, 85, 86] or on immune-enhancement on cancer patients in specific. [87] Maitake’s anti-viral properties have received particularly intense scrutiny by the scientific community [88] and research on Maitake in the treatment of HIV is ongoing. [89]

Another area of potential interest for Maitake extract may be diabetes type II. One study reported blood glucose decrease of 25% in insulin-resistant individuals. [90, 91, 92]

Additional research has also been conducted on beta-glucan polysaccharides as isolated compounds. There is a pending patent on “Methods of using beta glucan as a radio-protective agent,” which “relates to methods for treating and preventing radiation and/or chemotherapy related injury and/or afflictions, such as myelosuppression and decreased macrophage activity,” [93] In light of this, it should come as no surprise that NASA gives beta-glucans to its astronauts as protection against radiation poisoning and subsequent immune system degradation.

Other therapeutic effects of Maitake extract that have been researched include: anti-fungal (Candida albicans) and anti-bacterial, blood pressure moderator, nerve tonic, respiratory conditions, and stress reduction. [25]

Medicinal mushroom expert Paul Stamets, in his book Mycelium Running, also lists Maitake extract as showing some positive effect on leukemia. [134]

Note: The statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a licensed medical practitioner before using any herb (or mushroom) for medicinal purposes.

Credit to Paul Stamets for research and source material.

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