Miatake – Japan’s Ancient Mushroom

Miatake mushrooms have one of the longest histories of any food source. The Japanese have been eating the miatake for over 4,000 years and have long known of it’s heeling properties. It has been only in the last 50 years that western medicine has taken notice of it and started to explore these properties. Only with the herbal medicine market growing exponentially hast the traditional cultivation of miataki started to change.


While the miatke mushroom is native to Japan, it long ago crossed the Sea of Japan to Korea. From there it spread to China and Thailand, both as an herbal medication and as a food. The Japanese, though, where the first to notice is medicinal effects and that is where it got it’s name. magic.mushrooms canada Miatake means “Dancing mushroom” in Japanese. This was because people felt so lucky to find it growing that they would break into a joyous dance. In the US however it is sometimes called “hen of the woods.”


In nature the miataki mushroom grows in dead, fallen hard wood. Now in commercial production it is grown one of three ways. One is very close to nature, they use buried, inoculated hard wood slices. Those are the most desirable for food. Second is on artificial logs made of hardwood sawdust. The third is used mostly for herbal extract. The spores are added directly to biomass then sealed to grow. This keeps out other fungi.

Herbal use

Miataki mushrooms share a lot with their close cousin, the shiitaki. They both boost the immune system and are very effective in fighting the herpes virus. Miataki also helps the body regulate digestion and your blood sugar levels. It is an antioxidant and in that capacity is great for the skin. It thickens it, helping reduce wrinkles but at the same time help topical medicines pass though more easily. It is also used with cancer treatment as it stimulates the body’s attempt to fight it.

In the west we are so proud of modern medicine while the Japanese have been fighting cancer with something they dug out of a rotted tree 4,000 years ago. With the miataki, hopefully the lesson we have learned is not to dismiss what we don’t understand right away.

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