The well known name of the mushroom is maitake, which means in Japanese „dancing mushroom”, because the mushroom resembles a cloud of dancing butterflies. In other account, the mushroom got its name, because it was rare and very expensive, so people danced with joy when they found maitake in the forest.
Maitake excels in reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. It is very important that in the case of maitake-fed mice, the LDL cholesterol levels decrease, but levels of HDL cholesterol remained the same.
D-fraction, a compound isolated from maitake, activates the immune cells, including T cells, B cells, macrophages, natural killer (NK) cells and other components. In Japan, in a clinical trial D-fraction was effective against various advanced cancers. The 165 patients who took part in the trial were diagnosed with stage III or stage IV cancer. In many cases tumor regression or significant symptom improvements were observed. Many side effects of chemotherapy (hair loss, leukopenia, pain, nausea) were ameliorated when conventional treatment was used with maitake. At New York Medical College scientific studies have shown that maitake D-fraction has strong apoptosis-inducing activity against prostate cancer cells in vitro.
American and Japanese researchers identified and isolated another bioactive compound from maitake, a glycoprotein called SX-fraction. Studies demonstrate that the SX-fraction enhances insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels. This extract also seems to be effective in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
In human study, at a Tokyo clinic, patients who took maitake extract for two months lost weight, between seven and twenty-six pounds. This result suggests that maitake may be useful for controlling body weight.