Maitake is a giant mushroom found in the mountains of northeastern Japan.
Grifola frondosa, also known as Maitake or Hen-of-the-Woods, is rich in minerals (such as potassium, calcium, magnesium), vitamins (B2, D2, and niacin), amino acids, and fibers.
It is commonly used in Chinese and Japanese Medicine to enhance the immune system. An in vivoexperiment done in 2004 suggested that D-Fraction, a polysaccharide extracted from maitake could stimulate both the innate immune systemand adaptive immune systemin normal mice. Therefore, its administration may enhance host defense against foreign pathogens and protect healthy individuals from infectious diseases (Kodama 2004).
In addition to its immunostimulatory properties, G. frondosa has been proved to have antitumor effects. One way maitake mushroom helps combat with cancerous cells is by enhancing immune system. In 2009, a phase I/II human trial, conducted by Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, elucidated statistically significant association between Maitake and immunologic function in breast cancer patients in a dose-dependent manner (Deng et al.).
In vitro research has shown that biologically active components extracted from maitake also have the ability to induce apoptosisin cancer cell lines (human prostatic cancer cells, Hep 3B cells, SGC-7901 cells, murine skin carcinoma cells, breast cancer cells, cervical carcinoma HeLa cells) as well as inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells (canine cancer cells, bladder cancer cells).
Other antitumor effects of G. frondosa include inhibition of angiogenesis and anti-metastasis. Maitake extract is also an anti-pathogenic agent, which might provide effective therapy against chronic HBV infections. (Gu et al.2006), HSV (Gu et al.2007), and HIV.
Furthermore, researchers have indicated that whole maitake has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serumand liverlipids. Medical applications of the mushroom encompass hypertension, diabetes management (through hypoglycemic effect), weight loss (through lipid regulation), anti-inflammation and analgesic (through partial COX inhibition). G. frondosa is also reported to have beneficial cosmetic effects on skin (Boh and Berovic).