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What is Maitake?

The maitake mushroom is found in northeastern Japan but also grows and is cultivated in the United States and Europe. It grows in clusters at the foot of oak trees and can reach 50 cm in base diameter. One bunch can weigh up to 45 kg (100 lbs). Maitake has a rippling, flowery appearance resembling dancing butterflies, hence, one of its common names "dancing mushroom".

Scientific Name(s)

Grifola frondosa (Dixon ex Fr.) S.F. Gray Family: Polyporaceae

Common Name(s)

Maitake is also known as huishu hua (Chinese), king of mushrooms, dancing mushroom, monkey's bench, and shelf fungus.

What is it used for?

Miscellaneous Uses

Maitake has been used for its antiviral action and to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity. Maitake has been studied to a limited extent for treating cancer; however, the information available is not sufficient to recommend it for this use. The mushroom not only stimulates the immune system, but also has been tested in hypertension and HIV therapies.

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

In China and Japan, maitake mushrooms have been consumed for 3,000 years, valued for their legendary properties. Maitake's scientific name, Grifola frondosa, is derived from an Italian mushroom name referring to a mythological beast, half lion and half eagle. Years ago in Japan, the maitake had monetary value and was worth its weight in silver. In the late 1980s, Japanese scientists determined that the maitake was more potent than shiitake, suehirotake, and kawaratake mushrooms, all of which are used in traditional Asian medicine for immune function enhancement.

What is the recommended dosage?

Disease-preventative doses of commercial products range from 12 to 25 mg of the extract and 200 to 250 mg or 500 to 2,500 mg of whole powder daily. A trial among HIV-positive patients used doses of 6 g/day whole powder or 20 mg purified extract with 4 g whole maitake powder.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Information is limited.


Information is limited.


1. Maitake. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. June 2007. Accessed July 10, 2007.

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