Can Turkey Tail Mushrooms Aid in the Fight Against Cancer?

Written by Suresh Nair, PhD

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Brewed for thousands of years as a healing tea in China, the Chinese medicinal turkey tail mushroom – known scientifically as Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor – shows great promise as a major boon for cancer patients.

Emerging evidence shows that this multi-colored fungus, which grows widely in forests around the world, can help to protect cancer patients.

It has been shown to work in two ways:

  1. by directly preventing cancer formation and growth
  2. by boosting the immune systems that have been damaged as a result of cancer treatment.

Back in 1976, a Japanese company had already patented certain extracts of Coriolus versicolor under the name PSK and later PSP, which have since become recognized anti-cancer drugs in Japan.

Multiple studies and clinical trials have confirmed that PSP blocks cancer cell growth along with reducing treatment-related side effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and pain. PSP can also restore weakened immune systems in cancer patients.

In a 2012 clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), turkey tail mushroom extract was seen to restore the impaired immune systems of breast cancer patients after they had finished radiation therapy.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a clinical trial allowing patients with advanced prostate cancer to take turkey tail extract along with conventional chemotherapy to assess the benefits of this combination.

Similarly, another clinical trial will test the effects of taking the extract along with a vaccine treatment in women with breast cancer.

Trametes Versicolor Extract and Lung Cancer: A Review

As stated already, an extract or extracts of Coriolus versicolor (aka Trametes versicolor) have been patented in Japan under the name Polysaccharide K, also known as PSK or Krestin. PSK is widely used in Japan as a complementary immunotherapy for treating many cancers, including lung cancer.

A systematic review of PSK’s safety and efficacy in lung cancer treatment was carried out in 2015, in which 28 studies were included for review and analysis.

Fifteen of 17 studies confirmed that PSK had anti-cancer effects by directly inhibiting tumors leading to less cancer growth and anti-metastatic effects, as well as via immunomodulation and boosting immune system activity. Metastasis is the ability of cancer cells to leave the area of the body they originally grew in and move to another area, starting a new tumor or multiple new tumors.

This review showed that both median survival and survival after 1, 2, and 5 years were noticeably better after PSK treatment. Immune parameters, blood function, body weight, and tumor-related symptoms such as fatigue and anorexia were all improved in lung cancer patients treated with PSK.

In summary, the authors concluded that PSK can stop the growth of lung cancers, improve immune function, reduce tumor-associated symptoms, and extend survival in lung cancer patients undergoing standard radiation and chemotherapy. They strongly advocate setting up larger randomized controlled trials to better understand the ability of PSK to treat lung cancer patients.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Immunomodulation in Breast Cancer

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Immunomodulation in Breast CancerRadiotherapy and chemotherapy usually impair the immune system in cancer patients.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Bastyr University Research Institute wondered whether Coriolus versicolor extract could be used to restore the immune system and improve the health of women with breast cancer after they had undergone radiation therapy.

The study they published in 2012 shows that turkey tail mushroom extract can successfully complement conventional radiotherapy by increasing the activity of natural killer cells and “cytotoxic T-cells” – which likely attack and kill off any remaining cancerous cells.

Natural killer (NK) cells are specialized immune cells that can recognize and bind to certain tumor cells and virus-infected cells and kill them. Similarly, cytotoxic T-cells are a type of white blood cell that kills cancer cells, cells that are infected (especially with viruses), or cells that are damaged in other ways.

In this study, nine women with breast cancer were given either 3, 6, or 9 grams of turkey tail mushroom extract over a period of 4 weeks and their immune data was measured before and after radiation therapy.

This extract was reasonably well tolerated by these women. Their immune data showed that both their lymphocyte counts and functional activity of natural killer cells increased at daily doses of 6 and 9 grams. Further, the higher the dose, the greater the number of cytotoxic T-cells patrolling in their blood looking for cancer cells to kill.

This study showed that Coriolus versicolor extract is safe to give to women with breast cancer and that it can restore their impaired immune system after standard radiotherapy.

Turkey Tail Mushroom Extracts in Other Cancer Models

There are many examples of the effectiveness of Trametes versicolor extract in various models of cancer:

  • A 2015 laboratory study showed that an extract of protein-bound polysaccharides isolated from turkey tail mushrooms significantly slowed the growth of breast cancer cells. Simultaneously, this extract also increased the number of blood lymphocytes – possibly by producing more of a protein known as interleukin-1-beta, known to stimulate lymphocytes.
  • A 2Trametes versicolor014 study showed that Trametes versicolor extract reduced tumor weight by 36% and decreased lung metastasis by 70.8% in a mouse model of metastatic breast cancer. This extract was seen to stimulate the immune response and also protect against breast cancer-induced bone destruction after metastasis.
  • An extract of Trametes versicolor known as polysaccharide-B markedly slowed the growth of human esophageal carcinoma cells by reducing their survival time and increasing their rate of apoptosis (programmed cell suicide).
  • A study from the Queensland University of Technology showed that PSP targets prostate cancer stem cells and prevents the formation of prostate tumors in a mouse model of prostate cancer. In the words of the lead researcher, “In the past, other inhibitors have been shown to be up to 70 percent effective, but we’re seeing 100 percent of this tumor prevented from developing with PSP. Importantly, we did not see any side effects from the treatment.” PSP’s much greater effectiveness may be due to the fact that while conventional therapies target only cancer cells, PSP also destroys cancer stem cells which initiate cancer and cause its progression. In other words, PSP treatment may be able to completely prevent prostate tumor formation.
  • According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Clinical studies of PSK in colorectal cancer have shown reduction in recurrence and improvement in OS [overall survival] with adjuvant use.”
  • The NIH also notes that in three different clinical studies on patients with gastric cancer, patients who received PSK as part of their treatment had improved survival rates. In the first study, the overall 5-year survival was 67.9% (PSK) versus 61.8% for the control. In the second study with 262 participants the NIH noted that “Improved survival in the treatment group was clinically significant.” In the third small study of 21 patient, “Survival was improved significantly in treatment group.”


Turkey tail mushroom has a long-standing therapeutic use in traditional Chinese medicine. In recent times, various scientific studies have demonstrated that extracts of turkey tail mushroom (and reishi mushroom) help prevent the formation and growth of many different types of cancers. Additionally, they reduce treatment-related side effects and restore weakened immune systems in cancer patients who have been subjected to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

7M+ from Organixx contains 7 of nature’s most powerful mushrooms for anti-aging, longevity, and immune support. Using centuries-old knowledge of the power of nutritional mushrooms and our breakthrough new formulation process we’ve unleashed the power of mushrooms in a way never before done.

Suresh Nair, PhD
Suresh Nair, PhD, is a health writer who has written hundreds of informative blog posts, long articles, and eBooks on alternative health and nutrition since 2010. With a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology from UPenn and having been a laboratory scientist for 17 years, his content is always thoroughly researched and has a sound scientific basis. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

Article Summary

  • In 1976, a Japanese company patented certain extracts of turkey tail mushroom under the name PSK, which is a recognized anti-cancer drugs in Japan.

  • Evidence shows it can help protect cancer patients by:

    • Directly preventing cancer formation and growth
    • Boosting the immune systems that have been damaged because of cancer treatment
  • PSK is widely used in Japan as a complementary immunotherapy for treating many cancers, including lung cancer.

  • Turkey tail mushroom extract can complement radiotherapy by increasing the activity of natural killer cells and cytotoxic T-cells.

  • They prevent the formation and growth of many different types of cancers and restore immune systems weakened by chemotherapy and radiation.

Reader Interactions


    • Hi Shilo Stigen,
      Please refer to the Sources tab underneath the article. If you click on the arrow next to the word Sources it will open up the list of sources for you to reference.

  1. I would appreciate you would give me your phone number because I’ve ordered you product (Turmeric 3D) and I looked for the phone number to reorder and I don’t see one on the bottle.
    Maybe in the future you should print your phone number on the bottle of each of your products for the convenience for your customers.
    Thank you kindly.

    • Hi Ilse,
      Thanks for your comment. Regarding your question, Organixx (formerly known as Epigenetic Labs) cannot diagnose, treat, or give you advice regarding your health and individual use of our products. If you have questions regarding individual use of our product, please consult with a physician or specialist.

      • If you cannot help those with questions on cancer then why promote your brand as an aid in cancer? So many people are using this and other Mushroom products to help fight their cancer, yet you turn your backs on them. This make me wonder if you’re also a phony and just out for the money. It would help to know how to take these mushrooms when taking other mushrooms for cancer help. Imagine if they die from taking your mushrooms without knowledge on how to take them. You’ll have a BIG lawsuit on your hands.

        • US law prevents anyone without a medical degree to “prescribe”. A registered nurse cannot make recommendations either. The book Radical Remission recommends that people take charge of their care plans. The MD has the care plan; therefore that is the person to talk to as suggested by the company.

  2. Oh the Corrupt FDA is very good letting them use Turkey tail along with big corrupt pharma’s Chemo snake oil poisons ….no don’t big pharma hopes the chemo will kill of the Turkey Tail ,so they say best stick with our chemo other wise our profits will be reduced…..Oh your!!Health that does not matter as long as big pharm’s profits are not effected.

  3. I would like to order your Essential 3 Pack for $97.00 monthly would you please help me out? I seem to get hung up some how! I am getting desperate and I’m not getting any younger, I’m 86 yrs. old. Please so kind as to answer me A.S.A.P.

  4. Some people associate fungus with cancer growth. Do you have any thoughts on this belief? Have you heard of this?

  5. In the study, 3, 6, and 9 grams per day were administered. 6 and 9 grams had a positive effect on the immune system. However, the 7M complete immune defense contains 6 mushrooms adding up to a total of 250mg. How can that improve the immune system if even 3 grams could not?

  6. We live in Australia how do we gow about obtaining this product please.
    I have a daughter who is about to start kemo.
    And I wish to get the product a s a p

    • You can buy the dried turkey tail mushrooms and make your own tea. Chop the mushrooms in a blender or food processor. Put it in a crockpot and cook on low 36 hours. I use distilled water . I use about 3 ounces dried mushrooms to 2 quarts water. It will reduce. You can add a little water if you need to. Pour through cheese cloth or a bleached towel. Keep in the refrigerator. I take 2 tablespoons 3 or 4 times a day. I have triple negative breast cancer. I also use Sir Jason Winters tea. You can google that one to order. I paid $38 for 16 ounces turkey tail mushrooms.

  7. I am considering trialing the Turkey Tails following observation of the astonishing results another of my family experienced with TT.
    PSA readings were less than 10 for years but started to regularly increase 3 years ago. We decided to watch and wait. 6 month ago PSA reached 45 and the specialist indicated that probably treatment would probably be ordered at the next 6/12 consultation.
    However, last week it had surprisingly dropped to 43!
    I thought that I might trial Turkey Tails for the next 6 months. What dosage would you suggest?

    • Wow thanks for this! My husband has had great success with 6 pomegranate capsules per day. We just added Turkey Tail and other mushrooms to our regimen.

    • We’re glad you’re here, Melodee! Thank you for taking the time to take a look at our blog. It’s good to know that you found our content interesting.

      We appreciate your feedback and we hope to see more of you in our comments. Have a great day!

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