Did You Know?
Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) extracted from the turkey tail mushroom has received approval from the Japanese government, in the early 1980s, for the treatment of cancer.
Turkey tail mushrooms come in a variety of colors and are found in abundance on logs, dead trees, branches, and stumps. These mushrooms grow in concentric circles and have a leaf-like structure.

Trametes versicolor, better known as turkey tail mushroom, has a long history of medicinal use in the Far-East and North America. The Chinese have been using this mushroom to brew a medicinal tea since the early 15th century. The Native Americans too have been known to use it for centuries. In the current age, as mentioned earlier, the Japanese have tried to focus on the health benefits of this mushroom and its extract.

Growing scientific evidence is indicating that these mushrooms have high therapeutic value. A number of controlled trials conducted in Asia have shown that turkey tail contains many active medicinal compounds that can be potent against some of the dreaded diseases of our time. Let us take a closer look at its health benefits.

Potent Immunosupportive Agent
Adding turkey tail mushrooms to your diet can boost immunity. As we all know, the immune system produces T cells, which play a crucial role in the defense against various infections. T cells are particularly potent in combating viruses. Moreover, T cells prompt the B cells to generate antibodies that help fend off pathogens. Turkey tail mushrooms help by causing the T cells to work more effectively. People with an impaired immune system can benefit by eating these mushrooms. Particularly in cases, wherein the immune system is severely damaged, such as an HIV infection, intake of mushrooms can certainly help improve immunity and allow the patient to lead a better life.

Effective Cancer Therapy
Quite a few studies conducted in Asia have shown that the turkey tail's ability to improve immunity can be beneficial to combat different types of cancer. Taking the mushrooms along with prescribed drugs for cancer is found to dramatically increase the life expectancy of patients. The mushrooms can be effective in rejuvenating the immune system of cancer patients. The polysaccharide peptide (PSP) obtained from these mushrooms is found to increase immunity in 70 to 97% of cancer patients.
A 7-year study carried out by researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the University of Washington, the University of Minnesota and Bastyr University observed that taking turkey tail mushrooms in the form of pills did help to enhance immunity of women diagnosed with stage I, II, and III breast cancer and had finished sessions of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This immune-boosting effect was found to be dependent on the dose, and moreover, the patients did not experience any serious side effects. The results of the study were reported in November 2010, at the International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology in New York. The mushrooms were supplied by Fungi Perfecti, a certified organic company that cultivates medicinal mushrooms as well as makes mushroom-related products.

Conventional cancer treatment is effective in destroying cancer cells but unfortunately, it also kills healthy cells. This can impair the immune system considerably after completing a session of chemo or radiation therapy. In such circumstances, taking extracts of turkey tail mushroom may be beneficial. One research finding has observed that eating these mushrooms increases the count of NK cells―a type of white blood cells that combat cancer cells and defend the body against viruses and bacteria. Thus, consuming these mushrooms may contribute in reviving the immune system of cancer patients. Although the mushrooms do not cure cancer, their ability to increase NK cell activity can help rebuild the immune system and even wipe out the remaining cancer cells.

Display Antimicrobial Properties
Polysaccharides present in mushrooms are found to display antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. Studies also show that the antiviral properties are effective to combat Human papillomavirus (HPV)―the virus that has been linked to cervical cancer and hepatitis C infection, which is responsible for causing liver cancer. Be it E. coli or herpes , this mushroom is beneficial in treating these infections. Candida albicans―the fungus responsible for causing oral and genital infections in humans―streptococcus pneumococcus―major cause of pneumonia―also respond to the intake of mushroom extracts.

PSK, the extracted form of mushroom, sold in Japan as an anticancer drug, is unfortunately not available in the United States. However, the pure form of turkey tail product used in various clinical trials conducted in the U.S. is available in various health stores. When buying the mushroom or its extracts that are available as tincture, powder, and supplements, make sure they are certified organic. This ensures that you are getting an unadulterated high quality product that serves the intended purpose.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.