Can maitake mushroom supplements help cancer patients?

This was the question posed by researchers at Kobe Pharmaceutical University in Japan. Maitake mushroom has been used for centuries in Asia as an “adaptogen” — a remedy that helps keep many body systems in balance.

Several animal studies have supported the use of a special maitake extract supplement called maitake MD-fraction for cancer. It is believed that maitake MD-fraction has strong anticancer activity because it stimulates immune cell activity.

In this recent human study, a combination of MD-fraction and whole maitake powder was given to a group of cancer patients aged 22 to 57 years. Cancer regression or significant symptom improvement was seen in 58.3% of liver cancer patients, 68.8% of breast cancer patients and 62.5% of lung cancer patients. Furthermore, when maitake was taken in addition to chemotherapy, immune cell activities were enhanced, compared with chemotherapy alone.

Sources: Altern Med Rev. 2002 Jun;7(3):236-9