Maitake is a medicinal mushroom used in Japan as a general promoter of robust health. As with Coriolus versicolor , shiitake , and reishi (all fungi), innumerable healing powers have been attributed to maitake, ranging from curing cancer to preventing heart disease. Unfortunately, there hasn't been enough reliable research yet to determine whether any of these ancient beliefs are really true.
Contemporary herbalists classify maitake as an adaptogen, a substance said to help the body adapt to stress and resist infection (see the article on Ginseng for further explanation about adaptogens). However, we lack definitive scientific evidence to show us that maitake (or any other purported adaptogen) really functions in this way.
Most investigation has focused on the polysaccharide constituents of maitake. This family of substances is known to affect the human immune system in complex ways, and one in particular, beta-D-glucan, has been studied for its potential benefit in treating cancer and HIV . 1,2 Highly preliminary studies also suggest that maitake may be useful in treating diabetes , hypertension (high blood pressure), and high cholesterol . 3-4 However, there is no real evidence as yet that maitake is effective for these or any other illnesses.
Maitake is an edible mushroom that can be eaten as food or made into tea. A typical dosage of dried maitake in capsule or tablet form is 3 to 7 g daily.
2. Nanba H. Immunostimulant activity in vivo and anti-HIV activity in vitro of 3 branched b-1-6-glucans extracted from maitake mushrooms ( Grifola frondosa). Amsterdam: VIII International Conference on AIDS, 1992 [Abstract].
Last reviewed September 2014 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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