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Scientific Name(s): Grifola frondosa (Dickson ex Fr.) S. F. Gray.
Common Name(s): Dancing mushroom, Hen of the woods, Huishu hua, King of mushrooms, Maitake, Monkey's bench, Ram's head, Sheep's head, Shelf fungus

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 22, 2024.

Clinical Overview


Maitake has been studied for potential therapeutic applications in cancer and in mitigating cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes. CNS, immune-stimulant, and antiviral activities have been demonstrated. However, clinical studies are lacking to support maitake for any use.


Clinical studies are lacking to provide dosing guidance. For commercial preparations, manufacturer-recommended disease-preventive daily doses range from 12 to 25 mg of the extract and up to 2,500 mg of the whole powder.


Contraindications have not been identified.


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


Maitake may interact with blood glucose lowering agents and warfarin.

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited.


No data.

Scientific Family


Maitake mushroom is found primarily in northeastern Japan but also grows and is cultivated in the northern temperate forests of Asia, Europe, and eastern North America.Dikeman 2005, Mayell 2001 It is a basidiomycetes fungus in the Polyporaceae family (synonym, Polyporus frondosus Dicks. ex Fries).Nie 2006, Suzuki 2005 The maitake mushroom grows in clusters near 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 thought to resemble dancing butterflies, hence one of its common names, "dancing mushroom."Konno 2009, Mayell 2001


In China and Japan, maitake mushrooms have been consumed for centuries, valued most for their legendary therapeutic properties. The scientific name G. frondosa is derived from the griffin, a mythological half-lion and half-eagle beast from Greek mythology, and from frondosa, which means "leaflike." In feudal times, maitake was highly valued monetarily and was worth its weight in silver. In the late 1980s, Japanese scientists identified maitake as more potent than lentinan, shiitake, suehirotake, and kawaratake mushrooms, all of which are used in traditional Asian medicine for immune function enhancement.Mayell 2001


The polysaccharide beta-glucan is present in low quantities (0% to 0.2%)Dikeman 2005 in most mushrooms of the Polyporaceae family (eg, reishi mushroom) and possesses antitumor activity.Mayell 2001 Maitake's D-fraction of the beta-glucan polysaccharide has a unique and complex structure compared to other mushroom-derived beta-glucans, resulting in greater activity and potency. The bioactive protein-bound standardized extract product for maitake D-fraction was developed and patented in Japan in 1984.Konno 2009, Nanba 1993 An MD-fraction has also been described, with purportedly superior activity to D-fraction; a proprietary MD-fraction maitake extract has also been developed.Mayell 2001, Nanba 2000 Both a structure-functional relationshipIino 1985 and fractionation by anion exchange chromatography of beta-glucanOhno 1986 have been reported.

Neutral, acidic, and water-soluble polysaccharides have been extracted from maitake, and their structure has been determined.Dikeman 2005, Nanba 1987, Nie 2006, Ohno 1985 Two different glycan conformations have been obtained from the plant.Ohno 1986 The beta-1,3-glycan grifolan conformation has been elucidated using magnetic resonance spectroscopy.Ohno 1987

Ascorbic acid analog and glycoside studies have been reported.Okamura 1994 A lectin from maitake has been isolated and characterized.Kawagishi 1990, Nagata 2005 In addition, a grifolisin enzyme and the enzyme phytase have been described,Collopy 2004, Suzuki 2005 and lysophosphatidylethanolamine has been identified in studies examining apoptosis in neuronal cells.Nishina 2006

Structural characterization of maitake extract constituentsOhno 1985 and carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the fruit body's constituentsOhno 1985 have been conducted.

Uses and Pharmacology

Antiviral activity

In vitro data

In an in vitro study, the D-fraction of maitake alone exhibited inhibitory activity on hepatitis B virus, and the combination of D-fraction and interferon alpha-2b synergistically inhibited hepatitis B virus replication.Gu 2006

Clinical data

A trial of poor methodology evaluated effects of maitake on the health status of 35 HIV-positive patients (eg, CD4+ count, viral load, symptoms of HIV infection, secondary disease, sense of well-being). Following administration of maitake powder and MD-fraction extract (6 g of the whole powder or 20 mg of a purified extract with 4 g of whole maitake powder daily) over 12 months, 85% of patients reported an increased sense of well-being with regard to various symptoms and secondary diseases caused by HIV. The effects of maitake on CD4+ count and viral load were minimal.Nanba 2000

Cancer/Immune-stimulant effects

Animal data

In rodent models and in vitro studies, maitake extract has been studied for potential protective effects against cancers; synergism with chemotherapy has been demonstrated. Observed activities include activation of macrophages; enhanced cytokine, natural killer, and cytotoxic-T cell production; antigen-specific antibody response; and other immunostimulant activity.Guggenheim 2014, He 2017, Konno 2009, Mayell 2001, Rossi 2018 Both the D-fraction and other polysaccharides have been reviewed.Guggenheim 2014, He 2017 However, a precise molecular mechanism of action remains unclear, and isolated beta-glucans appear to have structural variation regarding for example the degree of branching and polymer length.He 2017, Rossi 2018 An alpha-glucan from maitake improves immunologic response to a dendritic cell tumor vaccination.Masuda 2019

Clinical data

Increased immunological responses were associated with maitake extract administration in a study of postmenopausal breast cancer patients who were disease free at the time of the study.Deng 2009, Guggenheim 2014 In a small study of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (N=21), an oral maitake extract at a dosage of 3 mg/kg twice daily for 12 weeks showed beneficial immunomodulatory potential.Wesa 2015

Epidemiological and observational studies suggest improvements in cancer treatment–related symptoms and pain.Mayell 2001, Nanba 1996, Rossi 2018 Further quality clinical studies are required to make recommendations.

Cardiovascular risk factors

Animal data

In limited studies in rodents, maitake demonstrated positive effects on hypertension,Adachi 1988, Kabir 1989, Kabir 1987 obesity,Aoki 2018, Ohtsuru 1992 and dyslipidemia.Aoki 2018, Ding 2016, Kabir 1989, Kubo 1997, Kubo 1996, Pan 2018

Clinical data

An observational study reported weight loss among 30 overweight patients after administration of maitake tablets equal to 200 g of fresh maitake daily for 2 months, with no other change to patients' diets.Mayell 2001, Yokota 1992


Animal data

An in vitro experiment demonstrated that lysophosphatidylethanolamine, a chemical component of maitake, evoked a cascade mechanism that resulted in the induction of neuronal differentiation and the halting of neuronal apoptosis.Nishina 2006, Phan 2015 Beneficial findings were reported in a study in aged rats administered maitake polysaccharides, with improvements in memory tests and histological and antioxidant parameters observed.Chen 2017

In a study of mice fed food supplemented with G. frondosa, antidepressant activity was demonstrated, as measured using tail suspension, forced swim, and open field tests.Bao 2017


Animal data

Studies in rodents have been reviewed, most of which use the glycoprotein SX-fraction, which has exhibited hypoglycemic activity in diabetic mice.He 2017 Maitake may decrease blood glucose levels by affecting insulin resistance and sensitivity, as well as by acting on insulin transduction signalling.He 2017, Mayell 2001 Lipid-soluble extracts derived from G. frondosa have also been reported to improve glucose tolerance in mice,Aoki 2018 as has a novel heteropolysaccharide from G. frondosa.Chen 2018

Clinical data

Limited clinical studies, some with methodological limitations, report positive findings (ie, hypoglycemic activity).He 2017

Mercury clearance

Animal data

Both maitake fruiting bodies and a polysaccharide peptide component increased mercury clearance rates in a rat model.Zhang 2018


Clinical data

A randomized, open-label comparator trial (N=57) investigated the ability of a maitake extract formulation (standardized to at least 18% SX-fraction) as monotherapy and in combination with clomiphene citrate to induce ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Nonresponders in either monotherapy group (maitake extract monotherapy or clomiphene citrate monotherapy) were subsequently switched to combination therapy. Although ovulation cycle rates were higher with clomiphene monotherapy than maitake extract monotherapy (69.9% vs 41.7%, respectively), 87% of monotherapy nonresponders ovulated once switched to the combination therapy.Chen 2010


Clinical studies are lacking to provide dosing guidance. Commercial preparations of the D- and MD-fractions typically provide 3 to 25 mg of standardized extract along with 75 to 250 mg of the whole powder per capsule. Capsules of the whole powder are generally supplied in 100 to 500 mg capsules; standardized liquid extracts contain 1 mg of D-fraction per drop. Manufacturer-recommended disease-preventive daily doses range from 12 to 25 mg of the extract and up to 2,500 mg of the whole powder.Mayell 2001

One clinical study evaluating effects of maitake in HIV-positive patients used daily doses of 6 g of the whole powder or 20 mg of a purified extract with 4 g of whole maitake powder for 12 months.Nanba 2000 An oral maitake extract at a dosage of 3 mg/kg twice daily for 12 weeks has been used to evaluate immunological response in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.Wesa 2015

Pregnancy / Lactation

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


Agents with blood glucose lowering effects: Maitake may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of agents with blood glucose lowering effects. Monitor therapy.(Konno 2001)

Warfarin: Maitake may increase the serum concentration of warfarin. Monitor therapy.(Hanselin 2010)

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited.

Potential adverse reactions can result from mistaken mushroom identity; use caution. (For more information, see the Mushroom Poisoning Decision Chart monograph.)


In vitro studies indicate maitake beta-glucan had a suppressive, but not cytotoxic, effect on hematopoiesis at a dose of 200 mcg/mL, while the maitake beta-glucan preparation Grifron-D was cytotoxic to human prostate cells at doses of 480 mcg/mL or greater.Lin 2007

Index Terms



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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