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Maitake D-fraction: Healing and Preventive Potential for Cancer

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by Hiroaki Nanba, Ph.D.

I have been studying medicinal mushrooms for the last 15 years and have reported that of all mushrooms studied, Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa) has the strongest activity in tumor growth inhibition.   In this report, Maitake extract D-fraction was investigated to determine its effectiveness not only on the inhibition against tumors already growing, but also on the inhibition of formation of the secondary focus due to metastasis of tumor cells in lymph and/or blood.  In the tests of cancer inhibition rates on mice bearing MM46 (breast cancer), they were bred for one month with foods containing 20% edible mushroom powder.  The result was that Maitake outperformed all other mushrooms.  Through the 31 day oral administration, total remission of the tumor was visibly confirmed on four out of ten Maitake fed mice.  The remaining six rodents also indicated almost 90% suppression rate compared to untreated (control) mice.  Most other mushroom extracts are reported ineffective when given orally.

The results of human studies on Maitake D-fraction is reported which indicated strong potential of Maitake D-fraction for cancer treatment.

Introduction
Maitake (Pron. “my-tah-key”) is indigenous to the northern part of Japan.  The basketball-sized mushroom, weighing sometimes over 50 pounds, grows on the foot of old Japanese oak trees.  For hundreds of years, this rare and tasty mushroom has been prized in traditional Japanese herbology. Maitake literally means “Dancing Mushroom”.

People who found the mushroom in deep mountain valleys started dancing with joy since they knew its delicious taste and the health benefits.  Also, in the feudal era, it could be exchanged with the same weight of silver.  Maitake was, and still is, one of the most valuable and expensive mushrooms.

This legendary giant mushroom has been available by cultivation since the mid 1980s which gave opportunities for mycologists and pharmacologists to study the various medicinal properties on the mushroom as claimed in anecdotes and folklore.  In addition to its antitumor effect, anti-hypertension, anti-diabetes, anti-obesity and anti-hepatitis activities have been found in Maitake.  Its anti-HIV activity was also confirmed by both Japan National Institute of Health and U.S. National Cancer Institute in early 1992.

Maitake D-fraction
Among the various fractions in the process of standardization of the mushroom extraction, it is known that Maitake D-fraction is most potent in enhancing the immune system, demonstrating highest cancer inhibition in oral administration.  Maitake D-fraction has strong ability to potentiate and activate the cellular immune system. 

Clinical Results
A number of animal tests have confirmed Maitake’s strong ability in cancer inhibition, but human trials had not been conducted until recently.  A non-randomized clinical study using D-fraction was conducted to see if it is effective against advanced cancer patients as it is against animals.

A total of 165 cancer patients in stage III-IV, from 25-69 years old, participated in the study and the data was collected under the cooperation of their medical doctors with major university hospitals and cancer treatment clinics in the western part of Japan.

Tumor regression or significant symptom improvements was observed in 11 out of 15 breast cancer patients, 12 out of 18 lung cancer patients and 7 out of 15 liver cancer patients.

As can be seen, these results suggest that breast, lung and liver cancers were improved by Maitake, but it was less effective against bone and stomach cancers or leukemia.  The following are some of the typical cases which demonstrated improvements by taking Maitake D-fraction:

53 years old, female, Lung cancer (epidermoid carcinoma)
In November, 1993, she was diagnosed as stage III-A  and several courses of chemotherapy were administered.  However, she gave up taking these chemos in March, 1994, because of severe side effects.  Since then, she took 50 mg of D-fraction and 4 g of tablets. After 14 months, she improved to stage I.

44 years old male, Brain tumor (astrocytoma)
This is an example of an effective trial of D-fraction therapy against a brain tumor.  The patient has taken 100 mg of D-fraction and 6 g of Maitake tablets every day for 4 months without taking any other medication including chemotherapy or radiation.  In this case, the patient showed dramatic improvement. He had received chemotherapy (CCNU) in four cycles since February, 1994.  But he could not accept it because of severe side effects and received no treatment for four months before starting Maitake administration.  After 4 months since he started taking Maitake, a complete regression of an egg-sized tumor focus was confirmed.

Preventing Cancer Metastasis
Another interesting of investigation was whether metastasis of cancer cells could be inhibited.   In mice it was observed that the metastasis to the liver was prevented by 91.3% by the administration of D-fraction and by 81.3% by Maitake powder.  It is believed that tumor cells present in blood and/or lymph were destroyed by the activated cellular immune-competent cells.  The result of this animal test indicates that cancer metastases could be reduced to less than one tenth by the use of Maitake D-fraction daily.

Conclusion
Since the cultivation method of Maitake mushroom was established in mid 1980’s, this legendary and delicious mushroom has gained much popularity among Japanese people.  Anecdotes and folklore on its medicinal values have also been elucidated by a number of mycologists and pharmacologists and its strong anti-tumor activity has attracted many researchers.

It should be noted that, unlike many other mushroom extracts that have to be injected intravenously, Maitake D-fraction has a strong ability to inhibit tumor growth when given orally as well.  In this context, various tests were conducted focusing on inhibition of growth and metastasis of cancer after surgery, by oral administration of Maitake.

Even though this was a limited and non-controlled trial, the clinical study indicated that Maitake D-fraction is effective against such cancers of the breast, lung, liver, prostate and brain.  Though the data is preliminary, the results of animal (and limited clinical ) studies based on Maitake D-fraction suggest significant healing and preventing potential for cancers and other immune-related health disorders. 

It is important to note that even among Maitake Mushrooms ( Grifola-frondosa), there are many strains and some contain very little Beta-glucan, the active ingredient to stimulate the immune system.  From such strains of Maitake, D-fraction may not be obtained.

Source:  Orthomolecular Medicine 

Maitake D Fraction can be purchased through Vitacost.com online  <<here >>  for $13.56 per bottle.

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Written by Tracey

September 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm