This 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. It becomes quite tough and inedible the older it gets. 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. In 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration approved an investigatory new drug application for a portion of the extract.

Uses of Maitake


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Polysaccharides, Beta Glucans

Parts Used

  • Whole mushroom (polypore)

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Inoue, A., N. Kodama, and H. Nanba. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 25 (April 2002): 536-540.

Kodama, N., K. Komuta, and H. Nanba. Alternative Medicine Review 7 (June 2002): 236-239.

Herb Reference Guide

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.