The History and Health Benefits of Maitake

What is Maitake? 

Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) is a type of adaptogenic mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. These mushrooms are known to have a crunchy texture, and even taste similar to meat. They typically weight about 10 pounds, but surprisingly can be as heavy as 50 pounds! 

History of Maitake

Meaning "Dancing Mushroom" in Japanese, Maitake's name is said to have originated from people dancing from happiness after finding it in the wild as it has some incredible benefits. It was a highly valued commodity in feudal Japan, where local lords would trade their subjects an equivalent weight in silver for Maitake [3]. 

Where does it come from? 

Maitake can be found growing in parts of Japan, China, and North America. At the bottom of Oak, Elk, and Maple trees are where Maitake is typically grown, and it is more common in autumn months.

How does it help?  

Effect on Type II Diabetes 

Maitake is best known for its healing properties against diabetes and hypertension.

Maitake contains alpha-glucan from the fruiting body in which has an anti-diabetic effect. Studies have shown that treatment with Maitake alpha-glucan significantly decreased the body weight, level of fasting plasma glucose, GSP, serum insulin, triglycerides, cholesterol, free fatty acid, and MDA content in livers [4]. 

Heart Health

Like other medicinal mushrooms, Maitake contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan [1]. Beta-glucans are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, and are sometimes used as medicine.

Beta-glucans help reduce your cholesterol, which improves artery function and the overall health of your cardiovascular system, lowering your risk of heart disease  [2]


Anti-tumor Effect

Maitake has been shown to suppress tumor growth, as well as fight reproduction of cancer cells. 

Extracted from the Maitake mushroom, Maitake D-Fraction has been reported to have an anti-tumor effect. This is possible as it enhances the immune system through the activation of T cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells [5].


Anti-Depressant Properties 

Recent evidence has shown that depression is related to immune regulation, and it has been proposed that the bioactive polysaccharides or peptides may be responsible for the antidepressant effects of Maitake. 

Recent evidence has shown that immune cells and their signaling play a major role in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder [6].

Bone Health 

Osteoporosis (a disease that weakens bones) is considered one of the most widespread chronic diseases, and Maitake mushroom studies have shown to improve symptoms [7]. Vitamin D in Maitake is shown to improve bone health as it boosts tissue production and reduces symptoms of osteoporosis. 


Maitake mushrooms are also a good source of [8]:

  • Antioxidants 
  • Vitamin D, B, and C
  • Beta-glucan
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Amino Acids 


    Maitake is best known for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels; however, the "dancing mushroom" helps improve and even prevent other health symptoms, along with being packed full of nutrients.

    Maitake is also easy to incorporate into stir-frys, rice dishes, soups, and pasta dishes. The recommended dosage of Maitake is 12 to 25 mg of the extract and 200 to 250 mg or 500 to 2,500 mg of whole powder daily, though it is important to consult with your doctor to ensure Maitake is right for you [9].




    2. Nourish by WebMD. n.d. Maitake Mushroom: Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 November 2021].

    3. Kopp, G. (2019). The History and Health Benefits of Maitake Mushroom. Retrieved 2 November 2021, from

    4. Hong, L., Xun, M., & Wutong, W. (2019). Anti-diabetic effect of an alpha-glucan from fruit body of maitake (Grifola frondosa) on KK-Ay mice. Retrieved 2 November 2021, from

    5. Kodama, N., Komuta, K., & Nanba, H. (2003). Effect of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) D-Fraction on the activation of NK cells in cancer patients. Journal of medicinal food6(4), 371–377.

    7. Erjavec, I., Brkljacic, J., Vukicevic, S., Jakopovic, B., & Jakopovich, I. (2016). Mushroom Extracts Decrease Bone Resorption and Improve Bone Formation. Retrieved 2 November 2021, from

    8. Brennan, D. (2016). Maitake Mushroom: Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses. Retrieved 2 November 2021, from