Maitake SX-Fraction, a proprietary extract made by Mushroom Wisdom Inc., induced ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in a 2010 study. Polycystic ovary syndrome, an endocrine disorder, affects an estimated 7% to 8% of reproductive women. Symptoms include absence of menstruation and/or scanty flow, presence of ovarian follicular cysts, and hyperandrogenism indicated by elevated basal LH (luteinizing hormone) and normal basal FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), and possibly hirsutism. Insulin resistance and high insulin blood levels, which accompany PCOS, contribute to hyperandrogenism by increasing production of ovarian androgen and decreasing the synthesis of sex hormone binding globulin.
Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) – specifically a bioactive fraction called “SX-fraction” – reduces elevated blood glucose levels and improves insulin resistance. This mushroom can also reduce blood pressure, modulate serum lipids, and stimulate immune response. (Maitake D-fraction, also produced by Mushroom Wisdom, contains an immune-stimulating maitake extract.)
The recent PCOS open trial, conducted by Jui-Tung Chen, MD, PhD, and colleagues, involved 72 PCOS patients, aged 18 to 35, from three Japanese clinics. (Eighteen dropped out over the course of the study.) The women were randomly assigned to take clomiphene citrate (CC), a standard medication for inducing ovulation, or Maitake SX-Fraction (MSX) for 12 weeks or three cycles. Those in the MSX group took three MSX tablets, three times a day between meals. Each tablet of this product is standardized to have at least 18 mg of the insulin-reducing extract and 250 mg of dried maitake mushroom powder. Participants were assessed every two weeks for ovulation with ultrasound.
By the end of 12 weeks, 20 of 26 subjects (76.9%) in the MSX group had ovulated, compared with 29 of 31 subjects (93.5%) in the CC group. However, significantly more ovulated cycles occurred in the CC group (58 ovulated cycles in 83 cycles [69.9%]) in contrast to the MSX group (30 ovulated cycles out of 72 cycles [41.7%]). The 41.7% rate is comparable to other insulin sensitizers that have been tested on PCOS patients, according to the study authors. Seven women in the MSX group and 8 in the CC group did not ovulate. These women were given CC-MSX combination therapy for up to 16 weeks or four cycles. With combination therapy, all 7 from the MSX group and 6 of the 8 CC patients ovulated. As an aside, the researchers note that 3 of 11 women who wished to become pregnant conceived during the treatment period; two with MSX only and one with combination treatment.
While the ovulation-stimulant clomiphene citrate is more effective than MSX, CC can have more negative side effects, including hot flashes, abdominal discomfort, weight gain, mood swings, nausea, and dizziness. CC may increase ovarian cancer risks, so it is not usually recommended for more than six cycles. Researchers say that only two MSX subjects in this study reported an adverse effect: mild upper stomach pain that eventually stopped over the course of treatment.
Chen J-T, Tominaga K, Sato Y, Anzai H, Matsuoka R. 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. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(12):1–5.
Mushroom Wisdom, Inc. infertility treatment breakthrough: extensive clinical study confirms that Maitake SC-Fraction® (MSX) induces ovulation in PCOS patients [press release]. December 29, 2010.