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Turkey Tail Mushroom and Cancer: Benefits, Treatment, and Research
Apr 20, 22
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Turkey Tail Mushroom and Cancer: Benefits, Treatment, and Research

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 12 min read
Turkey Tail Mushroom and Cancer: Benefits, Treatment, and Research

Are you looking for an unconventional way to fight cancer? If so, you may want to consider using turkey tail mushrooms. Preliminary research suggests that these mushrooms may help improve your chances of success against the disease. 

What's more, turkey tail mushrooms work hand-in-hand with conventional cancer treatment options, making them more effective. The mushroom also fights the side effects associated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms and how they work in cancer treatment. You may be surprised at what you find!

Turkey Tail And Cancer: How Far Back Does The Relationship Go?

Turkey tail mushroom has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, where it goes by the name Yun Zhi. The extract of the fungus treated respiratory ailments. In traditional western herbal medicine, it is an immunomodulator that fights infection and boosts immune function. 

Read More: See all the turkey tail health benefits

Turkey tail mushrooms also support cancer patients in their treatment process. What's better, adding turkey tail to your diet and foods can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

There have been some studies done on turkey tail mushrooms for cancer. These studies have shown promising results. The unique fungus fights many types of cancer, including breast, gastric, esophageal, and colorectal cancer. 

This article delves deeper into the scientific research on turkey tail for cancer. We will help you understand how this traditional Chinese medicine can improve your overall health while at the same time helping you treat—or prevent—cancer. We will also explore turkey tail mushrooms' cancer benefits and if there are any side effects.

Read More: See how Lion's mane fights cancer

What Is The Mechanism Behind Turkey Tail Cancer-Fighting Properties?

What Is The Mechanism Behind Turkey Tail Cancer-Fighting Properties?

The turkey tail dietary supplements improve the body's ability to wade off infections and risk factors for cancer. The medicinal mushroom Trametes has compounds that directly deal with factors that cause cancer. 

Two particular polysaccharides have been extracted and isolated from the mushroom and are known to provide most of the turkey tail mushroom benefits for cancer. These are Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide peptide (PSP). 

The best turkey tail supplement for cancer carries these two polysaccharides in abundance. The polysaccharides act as a biological response modifier that ensures your body responds correctly to cancer triggers. 

PSP and PSK stimulate the immune system(1). They encourage the body to produce more immune cells like monocytes and macrophages.  These two types of white blood cells modulate the immune system and destroy foreign and abnormal cells in the body.

Apart from inhibiting cancer cell activity, PSP and PSK in the turkey tail medicinal mushroom inhibit the mechanism of onset and progression of cancers. 

The spread of cancer cells to other sites (or metastasis) is something all cancer patients want to prevent and avoid at all costs. Cancer cells respond very poorly to treatment once they have migrated to distant sites. 

Turkey tail mushroom does not allow the tumor cells to spread(2). It prevents the invasion of the cancer cells by inhibiting the production of enzymes that help the process. 

Cancer cells attach to the blood vessel wall and form a blood clot to spread throughout the body. The turkey tail mushroom prevents this vascular attachment keeping cancer from spreading via the bloodstream.

The mushroom polysaccharides aid the treatment by protecting the cells from the effects of radiotherapy. PSP and PSK can reduce cancer recurrence and improve survival time.

Now that you have a better understanding of the turkey tail and cancer relationship, you may want to know how the mushroom affects different types of cancer. Can you use turkey tail mushrooms for breast cancer? Can you enjoy turkey tail mushroom ovarian cancer benefits? Are there any known turkey tail brain tumor benefits? 

By examining the components of the turkey tail mushroom and how it helps men and women with different types of cancer, we will answer all these questions in the following sections. Read on to see evidence of how this natural wonder functions to improve your overall health. 

Read More: See how cordyceps fights cancer.

What Types Of Cancer Will Benefit From Turkey Tail Mushroom?

What Types Of Cancer Will Benefit From Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Let's take a look at the cancers that have shown positive responses with the use of Turkey tail polysaccharide extracts. 

1. Breast Cancer

Multiple clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that immune function(3) has a role in preventing breast cancer. This study shows that the immune-boosting polysaccharide constituents of Turkey tail mushrooms can treat this type of cancer. 

What's more, information on the impacts of turkey tail mushrooms on breast cancer shows that both aqueous and ethanolic extracts are effective in treating breast cancer. Even better, research data suggests that when taken at an ideal dosage, the mushroom supports the treatment process without causing adverse reactions like other cancer treatment methods. 

Read More: See the best turkey tail mushroom dosage

A clinical trial(4) studying the turkey tail's breast cancer benefits has hypothesized that the mushroom improves immune response in breast cancer after receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

The turkey tail mushrooms and breast cancer research showed that fungi also work as a secondary cancer prevention strategy. Therefore, for women without a breast cancer diagnosis, taking advantage of the relationship between turkey tail mushroom and breast cancer could lower the risk of the disease. 

Breast cancers are associated with unwanted estrogen production. Turkey tail mushroom boasts estrogen regulation benefits. Just like reishi offers hormonal balance benefits, turkey tail mushrooms balance hormones in the male and female bodies, reducing the risk of excess estrogen causing breast cancer. 

Turkey tail mushroom's estrogen-inhibiting effects result from the inhibition of aromatase(5), an enzyme that makes estrogen.

2. Colorectal Cancer

Numerous researchers have investigated the relationship between turkey tail mushroom cancer, specifically colorectal cancer. In one study, 63 patients with colorectal cancer were given chemotherapy with or without PSK(6). The turkey tail cancer research found that the polysaccharide extract from turkey tail mushrooms improved overall survival and increased relapse duration.

The mushroom extract also inhibited the migration and invasion of colon cancer cells(7), according to a recent 2019 study. The same study also found that combining the fungal extract with chemotherapy increased the cancer-killing capacity.

Another meta-analysis evaluated 23 trials involving 10,684 patients with colorectal and gastric cancer. There was a significant increase in overall survival(8) when chemotherapy was combined with the polysaccharides extract of the mushroom.

3. Stomach Cancer

A Japanese clinical trial suggested the clinical benefit of PSK(9) when given after the initial cancer treatment. The study included 262 patients who had undergone resection of the stomach for gastric cancer. 

Some patients in the study received standard chemotherapy drugs, while others received a combination of chemotherapy and PSK. The patients tolerated PSK treatment well, and the combination chemotherapy improved the overall survival rate. Researchers obtained similar results(10) from another meta-analysis.

4. Other Types Of Cancer

Many trials reported improved survival(11) in lung cancer when Turkey tail mushroom extract was combined with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Studies report that PSK exhibits direct tumor-suppressing activity.

The mushroom extract also shows promising results(12) in treating cancers of the white blood cells (leukemia). The anti-tumor effects were due to the inhibition of the growth of cancer cells and the induction of cellular death. 

Turkey's tail mushroom shows some encouraging results when treating hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer. 

Regarding using turkey tail for cancer care, the mushroom supplement also works as an adjunct treatment. Turkey's tail mushroom reduces other treatment methods' side effects. At the same time, its ingredients ensure a better impact on the patient's health. 

For example, when using Trametes Versicolor in women with breast cancer, the mushroom supports treatment options like chemotherapy, ensuring better results sooner. 

Read More: See how Chaga fights cancer

Turkey Tail Diabetes Benefits And Reduced Risk Of Cancer Cells

Turkey Tail Diabetes Benefits and Reduced Risk of Cancer Cells

Diabetes is a leading risk factor for developing cancer. According to a report published in 2010(13) by the American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including: 

  • Liver cancer 
  • Colon cancer 
  • Rectum cancer 
  • Breast cancer 
  • Bladder cancer 
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Endometrium cancer 

A research study conducted in 2018(14) determined that the turkey tail mushroom can reduce insulin resistance in users. The research study noted that the mushroom could reduce cancer risk by helping with diabetes treatment. 

Read More: See how Lion's mane fights diabetes

Turkey Tail Mushrooms Inflammation Benefit And Cancer Treatment

Turkey Tail Mushroom And Cancer

Research shows inflammation can be a leading cause of cancer. Investigation into curatively resected colorectal cancer and resected gastric cancer cases have indicated that if inflammation is taken care of early enough, it can reduce cancer risk.

A report published in 2019(15) showed that inflammation is associated with both the development and progression of tumors. The report also noted that targeting inflammation is an attractive strategy for cancer prevention and therapy. 

The mushroom turkey tail aids in the inflammation fight. The protein-bound polysaccharides in the mushroom create an environment that discourages the development of inflammation, reducing cancer risk. 

Can You Take Turkey Tail With Chemotherapy?

Can You Take Turkey Tail With Chemotherapy?

Apart from the ones mentioned above, many ongoing animal and human studies continue to examine the anti-cancer potential of turkey tail mushrooms. With more research showing that the fungus has beta-glucans capable of fighting cancerous cells, it is clear that the mushroom can quickly increase the survival rates of people dealing with cancer. While they certainly can't replace anti-cancer drugs, turkey tail mushrooms can work as an adjunct in the treatment.  

Additionally, the FDA has approved PSK for use as an adjunct in cancer therapy. There is no toxicity with the combined use of PSK. 

Turkey tail mushrooms modulate and improve immune function during chemotherapy.Moreover, clinical data shows that turkey tail does not interact negatively with cancer treatment meds. 

Key Takeaways

Many experimental and clinical studies have evaluated the relationship between the turkey tail mushroom and cancer. The mushroom's polysaccharide inhibits cancer cells' growth in the breast, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and white blood cells. 

It has also demonstrated a potent ability to kill cancer cells and prevent their spread. Incorporating turkey tail into the chemotherapy regimen holds excellent potential.

Have you been using the turkey tail mushroom? In the comment section below, let us know about your experience with turkey tail mushrooms. 

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  1. PSP activates monocytes in resting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells: Immunomodulatory implications for cancer treatment, (1)  
  2. Antimetastatic effects of PSK (Krestin), a protein-bound polysaccharide obtained from basidiomycetes: an overview, (2) 
  3. Trametes versicolor mushroom immune therapy in breast cancer, (3) 
  4. Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer, (4)
  5. The effects of dietary supplementation with Agaricales mushrooms and other medicinal fungi on breast cancer: evidence-based medicine, (5) 
  6. Efficacy of Postoperative UFT (Tegafur/Uracil) Plus PSK Therapies in Elderly Patients with Resected Colorectal Cancer, (6) 
  7. In Vitro Anti-proliferative and Anti-invasive Effect of Polysaccharide-rich Extracts from Trametes Versicolor and Grifola Frondosa in Colon Cancer Cells, (7) 
  8. Can polysaccharide K improve therapeutic efficacy and safety in gastrointestinal cancer? a systematic review and network meta-analysis, (8)  
  9. Efficacy of immunochemotherapy as adjuvant treatment after curative resection of gastric cancer, (9)  
  10. Efficacy of adjuvant immunochemotherapy with polysaccharide K for patients with curative resections of gastric cancer, (10) 
  11. Polysaccharide K and Coriolus versicolor Extracts for Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review,  (11)  
  12. Regulation of cell cycle transition and induction of apoptosis in HL-60 leukemia cells by the combination of Coriolus versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum,  (12)https://www.spandidos  
  13. Diabetes and Cancer, (13)  
  14. Coriolus versicolor aqueous extract ameliorates insulin resistance with PI3K/Akt and p38 MAPK signaling pathways involved in diabetic skeletal muscle, (14) 
  15. Inflammation and Cancer, (15)

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