Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Hen of the woods, maitake, Signorina mushroom (Italy)
Commonly found at the base of oaks and other hardwoods. Found in summer and fall, often year after year in the same location.
A soft-fleshed polypore. Often found in a large cluster with smoky brown wavy caps.
Mushroom/sporophore/basidiocarp, mycelium and primordia
Neutral and sweet
Ergosterol, polysaccharides, (1-3, 1-6)-ß-D-glucans
ß-D-glucans from maitake have been named maitake D fraction, or MD fraction, and have been the focus of many maitake studies. Maitake also contains a significant amount of ergothioneine, and so possesses the beneficial antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of ergothioneine described elsewhere.
Immune. Maitake extract decreases inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α and enhances interferon activity in animal studies (1). Maitake enhances both innate and adaptive immunity, indicating use for defense against foreign pathogens and protection for general, healthy immune function (2).
Mushroom extracts that contain polysaccharides and phenolic compounds display an anti-angiogenic effect in rats via inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and extracellular signal related kinase (ERK) through suppression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (3).
Current and traditional medicinal use
History and folk use.
Maitake has been used in China to improve the spleen, appease stomach ailments, treat hemorrhoids, and calm the mind and nerves. This is a delicious culinary mushroom and is commonly used as food. Some medicinal mushrooms are much too woody to eat (reishi, turkey tail, and chaga), but maitake is easy to cook and tastes rather good. As a general principle: if you can eat the mushrooms, you should eat them.
Immune. Maitake polysaccharide extract administered to post-menopausal women increased suppressive and stimulatory cytokine blood markers including IL-10, IL-2, TNF-α and IFN-γ, 4 which suggests an immunomodulatory action (5).
Female reproduction. In a human clinical trial, maitake extract supported a healthy ovulatory cycle in women with insulin resistance (6).
Double extraction. 1:1 - 1:5 liquid extract. The mushroom has been extracted with both water and alcohol.
Hot aqueous extract. Mushroom has been boiled for multiple hours either as a tea or used as a broth.
Powdered extract. 1:1 - 10:1. May be extracted only with water or with both water and alcohol. The extract is then dehydrated into a powdered extract. 10:1 implies that every 1g of extract is equivalent to 10g of dried mushroom.
Myceliated grain. Mycelium is grown on grain substrate and when the mycelium seems to have digested the majority of the grain, the entire block is extracted.
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Want to learn more? Visit our research collection on PubMed
1. Rossi P, Difrancia R, Quagliariello V, Savino E, Randazzo CL, Berretta M. B-glucans from Grifola frondosa and Ganoderma lucidum in breast cancer : an example of complementary and integrative medicine. 2018;9(37):24837-24856.
2. Kodama Noriko, Murata Yukihito, Nanba Hiroaki. Administration of a Polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa stimulates immune function of normal mice. J Med Food. 2004;7(2):141-145.
3. Lee J, Park BC, Ko YJ, et al. Grifola frondosa ( Maitake Mushroom ) Water Extract Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-Induced Angiogenesis Through Inhibition of Reactive Oxygen Species Phosphorylation, Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase. J Med Food. 2008;11(4):643-651. doi:10.1089/jmf.2007.0629.
4. Deng G, Lin H, Seidman A, et al. A phase I / II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa ( Maitake mushroom ) in breast cancer patients : immunological effects. 2009:1215-1221. doi:10.1007/s00432-009-0562-z.
5. Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Effect of Maitake D Fraction on the Activation of NK Cells in Cancer Patients. 2003;6(4):371-377.
6. Chen, MD, PhD Jui-Tung, Tominaga, MD, DrpHD Kunihiko, Sato, MD, PhD Yoshiaki , Anzai, BS, BS, RPh Hideo and Matsuoka, MD P. Tyo. Maitake Mushroom ( Grifola frondosa ) Extract Induces Ovulation in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome : A Possible Monotherapy and a Combination Therapy. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(12):1295-1299. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0696.