The Turkey Tail mushroom (Coriolus versicolor or Trametes versicolor) can be found growing in forests around the world and has been used in Asian medicine for centuries to replenish qi (vital energy) and regulate immune functions. Researched extensively worldwide, the Turkey Tail is known as an immune enhancer, liver and kidney tonic and for its antibacterial, antioxidant, antitumor and antiviral properties. Proven benefits for patients with certain cancers include improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation, reversing cachexia, decreasing nausea, vomiting and pain as well as prolonging life.
It is believed that two substances, polysaccharide-peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-krestin (PSK) extracted from fermented mycelium culture, are at the heart of many of these claims. Whereas PSK from Coriolus versicolor has been studied extensively in Japan and was approved there as an anticancer drug in the 1980s, more recent research on PSP in China has revealed its antitumor properties and its ability to suppress cell proliferation. Research further suggests that the Turkey Tail’s immunologic activity is the mechanism responsible for its antitumor effects as well as its impact on survival rates.
In a study published in Phytomedicine Journal (July/August 2014), Dr. Ke-Wang Luo and his team demonstrated the Turkey Tail’s anti-metastatis and anti-tumor properties using mice with breast cancer. Over a four week period, the infected mice were given the Coriolus extract daily and their tumors subsequently analyzed. The research concluded that the extract stimulated the immune system, slowed tumor growth and decreased tumor weight by 36%. Concomitantly, the concentrate prevented the highly tumorigenic 4T1 cells from migrating to other parts of the body and was enormously effective in protecting bones that become weakened with breast cancer.
There is quite a bit of evidence indicating that PSKs boost the immune system of patients undergoing chemotherapy and slow the progression of certain cancers with little to no side effects. A US study published in May 2012 by Oncology journal found that up to 9 grams/day of turkey tail was beneficial for building up the immune system in post primary cancer treatment. The study further implied that this therapy would be valuable in preventing relapse and had “significant applications in cancer treatment.” With so many studies demonstrating encouraging results, the general consensus is that Coriolus should be used in adjuvant therapy especially for breast, colorectal and gastric cancer patients.
Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running.New York: Ten Speed Press,2005, www.phytomedicinejournal.com/article/S0944-7113(14)00204-9/abstract,