Maitake is a perennial fungus that grows in the same place year after year, if undisturbed. It is prolific in the Northeastern deciduous forests of North America and Japan. It is an edible fungus and has an interesting texture and earthy flavor and can be found in Asian grocery markets. Maitake means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, it is also commonly called “Hen of the Woods”. It is highly valued in Japanese and Chinese traditional medicine for the support of the immune system. During Japan’s feudal era, maitake was used as currency; the “daimyo”, or provincial nobles, would exchange maitake for its weight in silver from the shogun, the military ruler of Japan. Multiple clinical trials have been conducted on the various extracts of Maitake investigating its use in human and animal cells for support of immune function, blood sugar metabolism, the inflammatory response and antioxidant properties. Several species of mushrooms, once utilized as traditional folk medicines, have been the subject of modern research for their ability to defend the immune system.
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