Turkey Tail Mushrooms Help Combat Cancer

Records of Turkey Tail brewed as medicinal tea date from the early 15th century, during the Ming Dynasty in China. There is significant proof that Turkey Tail is associated in alleviating many maladies caused by cancer and cancer treatments.

The best known active compounds in Turkey Tail mushrooms is Polysaccharide K (PSK) and Polysaccharo-Peptide (PSP). PSP has been found to be effective during and after treatments such as chemo and radiation-therapy, while PSK is an approved mushroom product used to treat cancer and alleviate symptoms associated with cancer treatments in Japan and China. 

Both in-vivo and in-vitro studies have tested the effects of PSK and PSP on the immune system, including immune cells called natural killer cells and T-cells.

Have studies of Turkey Tail been performed directly with cancer patients?

The answer is yes, and for a long time. These compounds from Turkey Tail have been studied in patients with gastric cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. It has been used as adjuvant therapy in thousands of cancer patients since the mid-1970s. Let's not forget that we have already revealed it's been used since the Ming Dynasty, but let's just stick to what our most recent findings suggest. (1)

Gastric cancer

Studies show that the use of PSK from Turkey Tail as adjuvant therapy in patients with gastric (stomach) cancer may help repair immune cell damage caused by chemotherapy and strengthen the immune system.
Studies of Turkey Tail extracts as adjuvant therapy for gastric cancer include the following:
  • A randomized clinical trial in Japan included 751 patients who had surgery for gastric cancer. After surgery, patients received chemotherapy with or without PSK. On average, the patients who received chemotherapy and PSK lived longer than those who received chemotherapy alone. (2)
  • Another study of 262 Japanese patients showed the same results. Patients who received chemotherapy and PSK were less likely to have recurrent cancer and lived longer than those who did not, with no known toxicity. The researchers thought the study concludes that PSK from Turkey Tail and chemotherapy should be given to gastric cancer patients after surgery to remove the cancer. (3)
  • A review published in 2007 combined results from 8 randomized controlled trials in 8,009 patients who had surgery to remove gastric cancers. After surgery, patients in the trials were given chemotherapy with or without PSK. The results showed the patients who used PSK from Turkey Tail were able to live longer after surgery and chemotherapy. (4)

Breast cancer

In a phase I Clinical Trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, Turkey Tail was given to 11 patients with breast cancer following radiation therapy for nine weeks. Immunological results indicated trends in increased lymphocyte counts, increased natural killer cell functional activity, and dose-related increases in CD8+ T  and CD19+B cancer fighting cells. These findings show that Turkey Tail was well tolerable in women with breast cancer in the postprimary treatment setting. The results suggest Turkey Tail may improve immune status in immunocompromised breast cancer patients following standard primary oncologic treatment. (5)

Colorectal cancer

Studies of Turkey Tail and PSK as adjuvant therapy for colorectal cancer include the following:
  • In a randomized setting, patients with stage II or stage III colorectal cancer received chemotherapy and radiation therapy, with or without PSK from Turkey Tail for 2 years. This study found that PSK increased the number of cancer-killing immune cells and had anticancer effects in tissue that received radiation therapy. The researchers found that the control group had a 60% survival rate compared to 86.8% in the Turkey Tail treatment group, a finding that was statistically significant. (6)
  • Another review combined results from 3 clinical studies totaling 1,094 patients with colorectal cancer, following up for at least 5 years after surgery and chemotherapy. The results suggest that adjuvant immuno-chemotherapy with PSK from Turkey Tail can improve both survival and disease-free survival of patients with colorectal cancer. (7)
Lung cancer

Many positive studies of PSK from Turkey Tail as adjuvant therapy for patients with lung cancer have been reported. Despite reported benefits, there has been no English language synthesis of PSK for lung cancer. To address this knowledge gap, a systematic review of Turkey Tail for the treatment of lung cancer was translated, including 31 reports of 28 studies for full review and analysis. 6 studies were randomized controlled trials, 5 were nonrandomized controlled trials, and 17 were preclinical studies.
  • The 6 randomized clinical trials in patients with lung cancer showed benefits on a range of endpoints: including immune parameters and hematological (blood) function, performance status and body weight, tumor-related symptoms such as fatigue and anorexia, as well as survival.
  • The 5 nonrandomized clinical trials reported that patients treated with PSK and radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy had improved survival measures.
  • Fifteen of the 17 preclinical studies supported anticancer effects for PSK from Turkey Tail through immunomodulation and potentiation of immune surveillance, as well as through direct tumor inhibiting actions in-vivo that resulted in reduced tumor growth and antimetastatic effects. (8)

Is Turkey Tail mushroom an approved treatment in the United States?

Although Turkey Tail and its compounds are an approved treatment for cancer in Japan and China, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of Turkey Tail or its active compound PSK as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition because the FDA does not approve dietary supplements as safe or effective. Turkey Tail is a natural herb that has been used for centuries to combat many illnesses including cancer. The studies above simply serve as proof of this ancient knowledge.


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424937/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10948356

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7910230

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17106715

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3369477/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16525672

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16133112

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25784670?dopt=Abstract

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