This mushroom was coined by the Japanese as the Dancing Mushroom, because when someone found one they would dance with joy knowing they will be in good health. Maitake is one of my personal favorite edibles for flavor. The health benefits of Hens are numerous:
*Immune system regulator
*Helps weight loss
*Cancer fighter- Reduces cancerous cell production and tumor growth, especially in breast cancer.
*Full of Vitamins B, C and D as well as Anti-Oxidants, Beta D Glucans and Potassium.
*Lowers Cholesterol levels and fights Diabetes
*Helps treat the side effects of Chemo
*Fights against flu and cold viruses
Maitake is a great additive to your medicine cabinet, especially in winter months when boosting your immune system is important in fighting off colds. It also shows great promise in our fight against cancer. Here’s a few helpful links:
In one epic hunt I broke a personal record that once was 27 pounds. This forage hauled in 47 pounds of beautiful Chaga! Along with my lovely partner, we had an amazing time hiking and collecting the diamond of the forest. As is the practice always, we used sustainable methods to extract the Chaga, leaving 30% to regrow and not harm the tree.
Theres something about being in an old growth forest that gives off the feeling of being in a place that is unquie and frozen in time. Like being inside a fantasy world. I can feel ancestors that long before collected medicine there. Perhaps for me, it’s the getting a little older that really makes me appreciate the wonder of it all a little more than before. This particular forage I felt myself slow down and notice my surroundings completely, enjoy the spring season happening all around. Sometimes tuning in as a practice really helps your focus and awareness but also allows the connection with the place your in to happen. I especially feel like that is definitely a key to a good mushroom hunt. Sort of like listening for them.
I believe this medicine, like all medicinal plants and mushrooms, is here to help us live healthier lives, to treat and cure diseases and illness, and are a part of the grand design. This world, however it was created, seems to have been structured perfectly, with everything people could need, namely food, medicine and shelter. The forest provides and we have to protect and care for it. The greatest threats seem to come from careless human decisions, such as too much development, once protected lands to be sold, mass natural resource extraction, pollution and on and on. When used wholesomely and ethically, nature regenerates and replenishes a lot of what is used.
Chaga has the ability to regrow when harvested right, over and over until the trees death. Now these trees are already doomed that contain Chaga, as it grows from the center out and is slowly killing the tree, acting like a tumor (which for us, it has been shown to reduce tumors).
I believe in a local economy, where the people that live in a community get what they need from their own surroundings. Tailgate and farmers markets, small businesses owned by families or individuals. Farmers and gardeners, hunters and gatherers. We dont need huge companies that use mass amounts of resources, we need to look to our own neighbors and support them.
Wild crafting such as I and many others do is a sustainable practice that provides for the people around us. It’s the way people used to do things, especially the native culture to our home country. I really feel blessed to have found this passion for foraging, teaching, learning and being connected to the natural world and for the chance to share it with others.
All that said, I’ve been feeling pretty grateful having found so much medicine to be able to bring to people who need it!
I did a three day, (well actually four day, had to update this) marathon of Chaga foraging, going to some of my favorite spots in the Blueridge mountains. One of my biggest finds highlighted one day and one piece I’ve been after for months was a huge triumph, on another day (took an hour to get that baby out of the tree, at least twenty feet up). Spring has finally broken through the winters long curtain and it is one of the best times of the year to go out exploring. Flowers are blooming, the leaves are growing back in and mushrooms are creeping out slowly from beneath the soil, waking from their slumber. The black bears are emerging once again and the sun is warmer at last. Having traveled some this winter and not getting out as much as I love to, has pushed me to go into the wild, like days of old. I once hiked everyday without fail for a whole year straight, almost. That passion never leaves me but sometimes sleeps within…it has been refreshing to get back at it! Foraging 3 of the last 4 days in a row brought my spirit some needed peace, I took a day to rest, soak in a hot tub and sit in a steam room to replenish, and have ramped up my adventuring and it feels so good, although it does ache alittle more as I embrace my forties!
As more and more people have come to learn about the healing power of Chaga and other medicinal mushrooms, I have an increased drive to share the gifts of the forest with them. The circle of interest has grown locally and providing healthy, healing, alternative, natural medicine is what I believe to be my calling. We are truly blessed in this region with a very diverse and special environment. Next month will begin the wondrous mushroom season and I cant wait to lead hikes and teach what I know. Stay tuned for more adventures and announcements of what’s going on!
2019 is off to a big start! In the first two months so far I have collected quite a bit of Chaga and been on several hunts. I also got my products in a local health food store called Roots and Fruits Market, that is hosting a Saturday winter market which I have been involved in as well. The Appalachia Guild of Healing Arts, in downtown Asheville also has a nice display of my products. This is all wonderfully exciting news as I continue on living what I love. I’m getting ready for spring and picking up where I left off last year with more mushroom and plant walks and being involved in more tailgate markets. I have also increased my tincture production and looking to add in some new ones such as Birch Polypore, Pipsissewa, Mullen and Rattlesnake Plantain, to help promote healthy livers, kidneys, lungs, urinary tracts and immune systems. I will be doing presentations along with everything else too. Hope to bring more natural medicine to more people this year, come out and find me in and around Asheville. East Asheville tailgate market will open again in May, and Black Mountain tailgate market also in May.
***My next presentation is happening Sunday, March 10th at 12:30-3pm at Kate’s Garden Refuge (375 Presnell Hollow rd) in Burnsville, NC 28714. Kate will be preforming a singing bowl meditation at the end of the event for 30 minutes, which is truly amazing stuff! The event costs $10-20 sliding scale and the singing bowls is by donation.***