Maitake (Hui Ahu Hua)

Botanical Name: Grifola frondosa

Maitake has been used in China and Japan for many thousands of years. Their healing properties are legendary. In Asia, it has been used as both a culinary and medicinal mushroom. It is a powerful adaptogenic mushroom that enhances the immune system, promoting health, longevity, and vitality.

Remember to check with your doctor before trying new medicines or herbal remedies, especially if you are taking other medication where drug interactions are possible.

Below is an overview of maitake, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of maitake.

How to use Maitake and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!

Maitake (Hui Ahu Hua)

Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Get Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works.


Western Name: Maitake

Also Known As: Hen of the Woods, Monkey’s Bench, King of Mushrooms, Dancing Mushroom, Huishu Hua, Ram’s Head, Shelf Fungus, Sheep’s Head, Dancing Mushroom

Organs/Systems: Immune System, Cardiovascular System

Key Actions: Adaptogen, Antiviral, Antioxidant, Anticancer, Immunostimulant, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic

Medicinal Uses: Chronic fatigue, hay fever, HIV/AIDS, cancer, chemotherapy, high blood pressure, diabetes, hepatitis, infertility, high cholesterol, enhances the immune system, metabolic syndrome.


Pin Yin: Hui Ahu Hua

Also Known As: Maitake

Meridians: Spleen, Kidneys, Lungs, Large Intestine

Key Actions: Tonifies Spleen Qi, Tonifies the Stomach, Tonifies the Kidneys, Calms Shen, Promote Urination, Reduce Inflammation

Medicinal Uses: Urinary bladder weakness, weight gain, frailty, fatigue, oedemas, longevity, breast cancer, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, anxiety, hemorrhoids, support immune function.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Maitake is a polypore fungus in the Polyporaceae family. Maitakes have a rippling, flowery appearance, resembling dancing butterflies, hence the common name, dancing mushroom. It is a perennial fungus that grows in the same place year after year, if undisturbed.

Native to China, northeastern Japan, it is now cultivated in the U.S. and Europe. They grow in clusters near the foot of oak, elm, and maple trees.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Fruiting Body of the Mushroom

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral

Caution: Considered safe with few known side effects.

Key Constituents: Polysaccharides (including Beta-glucan), Triterpenes, Lectin, Vitamin C, Grifolisin enzyme, Vitamin B, Ergosterol, Copper, Potassium, Fiber, Minerals, Amino acids.

History/Folklore: The botanical name, Grifola frondosa, derives from an Italian mushroom name referring to the gryphon, a mythological half lion and half eagle beast.

A study performed in Japan in the late 1980’s identified maitake as more potent than lentinan, shiitake, suehirotake, and kawaratike mushrooms, all used traditionally as medicines to promote strong immune function.

In China, maitake is used to support what is called Spleen and Stomach function. It is also used to help calm Shen (Spirit) or counter anxiety by calming the effects of stress. It is popularly used by the elderly as it can treat many of the signs and symptoms associated with aging including high blood pressure, frailty, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, fatigue, urinary bladder weakness, and weight gain.

Maitake is considered excellent for treating metabolic syndrome. This is a condition that describes several diseases occurring at the same time. This can include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity. Maitake helps protect the pancreas by preventing the destruction of insulin-producing cells.

Maitake offers synergistic support to other medicinal mushrooms. The mushrooms can grow to be one hundred pounds, hence its common name, “King of Mushrooms.”

A study in 2013 indicates that maitake D-fraction could be useful in preventing and treating breast cancer. The mushrooms show an ability for fighting the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells. In mice it has suppressed tumor growth while increasing immune response.

The polysaccharide beta-glucan is known for its anticancer and antiviral properties. Maitake D-fraction is created from beta-glucan and is known for its antitumor properties. Neutral, acidic, and water-soluble polysaccharides have been extracted from maitake, each contributing to the mushrooms immune enhancing activities.

Maitake contains the cell membrane molecule, ergosterol. Ergosterol converts to vitamin D2 when it is exposed to sunlight. All mushrooms contain this molecule. 100 g of fresh maitake have been shown to contain more than 2,000 IU of vitamin D2. You can increase the vitamin D2 content of your mushrooms by placing them gills-side-up under direct sunlight. Maitake do not have gills, but exposing them to sunlight will still increase their vitamin D2 content.

If buying fresh maitake be sure to buy whole mushrooms to help preserve its shelf life. It can be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator. The mushrooms freeze well and can also be bought dried from a grocer.

When using the mushroom in extract form, look for maitake D-fraction, which is an extract of the mushroom. D-fraction is a component of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide found in maitake, and known to have antitumor properties. Taking maitake with vitamin C has been shown to increase its effectiveness. Always be sure you are purchasing 100% extract with no fillers.

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Did you know?

Dancing Mushroom

Maitake means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. The name is said to have derived from people dancing around in happiness when they found the mushroom in the wild.


Many years ago in Japan, maitake had monetary value and was considered worth its weight in silver.
Fun fact!

Wild Best

While maitake mushrooms are now cultivated to support demand and protect the species, it continues to grow the best in the wild.

How to use Maitake to take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!

Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Get Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works.

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