SX-Fraction From Maitake Mushroom:  Effects On Insulin Resistance and Ovulation

Ken Babal, C.N.

Whether you are a diabetic or a person who wants to keep your blood sugar level in a healthy range for other health reasons, the holiday season can be extremely challenging. There are office parties, school festivities, get-togethers and, of course, family feasts. These celebrations tempt us with an array of cookies, pies, cakes, candies and sweet beverages that can play havoc with blood glucose levels. According to a study at Stanford University, approximately 25 percent of Americans are extremely carbohydrate-sensitive and respond with a rapid rise in blood glucose with a corresponding elevation in insulin.1

As many diabetics know, careful management of blood sugar is essential and fundamentally important to all body systems. Erratic blood sugar levels can have profound implications relating to body fat, energy production, cardiovascular health, immunity, brain function, aging, mood and polycystic ovary syndrome (a leading cause of infertility).

Nearly 25 million Americans live with diabetes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in three will have the disease by 2050. This underscores the need for education programs and effective treatments.

Insulin Resistance

Adult onset diabetes is preceded by insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, causing insulin and glucose levels to remain high. Insulin resistance develops over years of excessive sugar and refined carbohydrate intake coupled with a sedentary lifestyle. Insulin resistance is recognized as a chief underlying cause of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDLs. This cluster of conditions, which often appear together, is referred to as metabolic syndrome or syndrome X, and sets the stage for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancers.

Insulin resistance creates an ideal environment for cancer because tumors need both insulin and high levels of blood sugar to survive. In this sense, tumors are “sugar-feeders,” meaning they are fueled by glucose, not fat or protein. Too much insulin can promote the growth of certain types of cancer, including stomach, colon, endometrial, ovarian, lung, prostate and breast cancer.2 In fact, high insulin levels may be the best predictor of whether a woman’s breast cancer returns after treatment, since high insulin levels increase the risk of recurrence and death by at least 800 percent. By maintaining a balanced blood sugar level, however, we can selectively starve tumors.

Lately, there has been a rapid growth of scientific literature showing a surprising connection between insulin disturbances and other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease3 and autism. Mounting evidence implicates diabetes, its predecessor metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance as important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Some researchers are now referring to Alzheimer’s disease as type 3 or brain diabetes, which might be prevented and treated with insulin-sensitizing, antidiabetes agents.

Insulin’s role in cognitive function is becoming more widely accepted, and a new study suggests a link between autism and diabetes.4 Both diseases have a common underlying mechanism: impaired glucose tolerance and excess levels of insulin. The problem may begin in the womb since gestational diabetes is the most important identified maternal risk factor for autism. Based on accumulating scientific evidence, the study author concludes that insulin needs to be taken seriously as a causative element in autism.

Maitake SX-Fraction

The good news is that insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome can be prevented and reversed with improved dietary practices, physical activity and supplementation with Maitake SX-Fraction. SX-Fraction is a maitake compound (a glycoprotein) awarded a US patent in 2007 for anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-obesity and anti-hyperlipidemic effects.5

As far back as 1987, research showed that when spontaneously hypertensive rats were fed maitake powder there was a significant drop in their systolic blood pressure along with a lowering of total cholesterol. In the mid-1990s, experiments with diabetic mice showed that maitake contains components that reduced elevated blood sugar and insulin levels as well as body weight. Subsequent research identified a specific water-soluble compound in maitake with strong hypoglycemic activity. This compound was named SX-Fraction because it showed a remarkable ability to improve features of syndrome X (metabolic syndrome).

Studies confirming the role of SX-Fraction were conducted at Georgetown University. In these experiments, SX-Fraction reduced levels of fasting blood glucose, blood pressure and body weight in genetically obese and diabetic rats. The extract also prevented hypertensive rats on a high sugar diet from developing insulin resistance. Furthermore, a clinical study found that Type 2 diabetics taking SX-Fraction for two months were able to significantly reduce their fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, insulin and body weight.6

Maitake SX-Fraction may also be an effective agent to treat hypoglycemia, in addition to hyperglycemia. Practitioners report that patients suffering from low blood sugar accompanied by low energy and fatigue experienced a sharp rise in energy and a decline in sweet craving after taking SX-Fraction.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Recently, Maitake SX-Fraction was evaluated in women with polycystic ovaries, a condition in which the ovaries do not produce eggs.7 Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause of infertility, affecting 5-10 percent of women of reproductive age. SX-Fraction was chosen because insulin resistance is believed to be the underlying cause of the disorder. The study was conducted by physicians from three leading Japanese gynecological clinics and a Tokyo hospital.

Eighty patients diagnosed with PCOS were enrolled in the study. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either Maitake SX-Fraction (MSX) or clomiphene citrate (CC), a drug regarded as first-line therapy to induce ovulation in patients with PCOS. While CC is usually well tolerated, it does have potentially serious side effects and is not recommended for long term use. By contrast, no significant side effects of MSX have been observed, and it can be used indefinitely. The subjects started taking MSX on the first day of menses or CC on days 5-9 of menses and continued for three cycles for up to twelve weeks.

Ovulation was observed in 20 of 26 (80 percent) patients treated with MSX and in 29 of 31 (94 percent) of subjects treated with CC, not a statistically significant difference. It is notable that 6 of 8 patients in the CC group who failed to ovulate did ovulate after MSX was administered. Finally, 3 of 26 patients in the MSX group expressed a desire to become pregnant, and all three of those patients conceived. These results suggest that MSX holds great value as an effective anovulation treatment on its own or in combination with CC, and as a follow-up treatment for PCOS patients that do not respond to CC.

Thus, a glycoprotein extract from Maitake mushroom (SX-fraction) is considered as one of an alternative methods for improving insulin sensitivity and also promoting aromatization of testosterone to estradiol in granulosa cells.


1. Hollenbeck, C and Reaven, G. “Variations in Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake in Healthy Individuals with Normal Glucose Tolerance.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Vol. 64, pp. 1169-1173, 1987.

2. Argiles JM, Lopez-Soriano FJ. “Insulin and cancer (review).” Int J Oncol 2001; 18: 683-87.

3. De la  Monte SM, Wands JR. “Alzheimer’s Disease is Type 3 Diabetes-Evidence Reviewed.” J Diabetes Sci Technol, 2008 Nov; 2(6): 1101-1113.

4. Michael Stern. Insulin Signaling and Autism. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2011; 2 DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2011.00054

5. US Patent No. 7,214,778 for “Glycoprotein with Anti-diabetic, Anti-hypertensive, Anti-obesity and Anti-hyperlipidemic Effects from Grifola Frondosa, and a Method for Preparing Same.” (2007)

6. Konno, S. et al “A possible hypoglycemic effect of maitake mushroom on type 2 diabetic patients.” Diabetic Med. 18, 2001.

7. Chen, J. et al “Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa) Extract Induces Ovulation in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Possible Monotherapy and a Combination Therapy After Failure with First-Line Clomiphene Citrate.” The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, Vol. 16, No. 12, 2010, pp. 1295-1299.