August 16, 2015

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Your Immune System

Mushrooms are one of the most powerful foods and nutritional supplements that anyone can take. Hundreds of studies from across the world have demonstrated the value of different species of mushrooms. Turkey Tail (Coriolus versicolor or Trametes versicolor) is an especially potent mushroom showing utility as an immune system booster and anticancer agent.

Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates in Turkey Tail mushrooms known to enhance immune activity. One study in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed how a Turkey Tail polysaccharide extract stimulated activity of macrophages, a special type of white blood cell that destroys a variety of pathogens as well as cancer cells. A 2015 study in Molecular Immunology further demonstrated that the polysaccharides could activate B white blood cells.

In addition to directly stimulating the immune system, Turkey Tail improves immune function and general health through antioxidant activity. A Chinese study from the Medical School of Taizhou University indicated antioxidant effectiveness against free radicals in brain tissue as well.
The immune-boosting properties underlie much of the anti-tumor properties of Turkey Tail. Studies have shown that components of the mushroom fight many forms of cancer. One polysaccharide ingredient called PSP demonstrated surprisingly powerful preventive activity against prostate cancer. Researchers concluded, “Whereas 100% of the mice that fed with water only developed prostate tumors at the end of experiment, no tumors could be found in any of the mice fed with PSP, suggesting that PSP treatment can completely inhibit prostate tumor formation.”

A May 2015 review study in Integrative Cancer Therapy examined the impact of Turkey Tail-derived polysaccharide K (PSK) on lung cancer. 11 controlled trials and 17 preclinical studies were analyzed in the review. The majority of the preclinical evidence showed PSK inhibited cancer through immune system potentiation and direct anti-tumor and antimetastatic effects. Benefits observed in randomized trials included improvements in immune and hematological function, body weight, performance status, fatigue, anorexia, and survival. Very importantly, PSK was used in conjunction with and following radiation and chemotherapy in a safe manner.

The effects of Turkey Tail extract on breast cancer are profound as well. An animal study conducted in 2014 showed that 1 gram/kilogram of extract orally administered to mice daily for 4 weeks decreased tumor weight by 36% and inhibited lung metastasis by 70.8%. Overall, the extract “exhibited anti-tumor, anti-metastasis and immunomodulation effects in metastatic breast cancer mouse model, and could protect the bone from breast cancer-induced bone destruction.”

Other cancers like esophageal carcinoma are also susceptible to polysaccharides in Turkey Tail. The mushroom also holds promise for treating symptoms of dementia and diabetes. Given the proven safety and efficacy of Turkey Tail, any patient looking to improve their treatment outcome should consider trying it.

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