Turkey Tail Mushrooms (PSK) - a Miracle?

Because of Chinese and Japanese research and use, there is more documentation on Asian medicinal mushrooms than on almost any other CAM product.

Actions: Anti-tumor, Anti-microbial, Immunomodulating, Anti-oxidant. Also recently discovered to be anti-malarial.

Coriolus versicolor (turkey tail) mushroom is particularly interesting because it contains the protein-bound polysaccharide K (PSK). There are 600+ articles in PubMed on this topic, including 60+ clinical trials and 40+ RCTs. PSK is approved as an adjunctive cancer treatment in Japan.

PSK is said to fight cancer and halt tumors by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and “stimulating a host mediated response.” PSK also promotes the body’s own “Natural Killer Cells” to strengthen and kick-start the immune system.

PSK is frequently combined with chemotherapy to increase cancer survival rates.

A $2.25 Million NIH Study Confirms Turkey Tail Mushrooms’ Power Against Breast Cancer

Recently, the National Institute of Health (NIH) approved a $2.25 million-dollar study conducted jointly with Bastyr University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Washington. Researchers analyzed the impact of Turkey Tail mushrooms on the immune systems of patients with breast cancer.

Dr. Cynthia Wenner is one of the principal investigators on the NIH study. In an interview with Bastyr University’s Bastyr Magazine, she said, “As an overall goal, we’re trying to discover if this mushroom will help stimulate the human immune response to breast and prostate cancers.”

The study — which used mushrooms provided by Stamets’ company, Fungi Perfecti, LLC — confirmed that the mushrooms definitely stimulate the immune system and can even correct deficits in the immune systems of patients, all without the toxicity and side effects that are so common with more traditional treatments.

In a large trial published in the British Medical Journal in 2004, the addition of PSK increased the effectiveness of tegafur, a 5-FU ‘prodrug,’ on colorectal cancer. ( A ‘prodrug’ is an agent that is metabolized into an active drug in the human body.)

The overall five-year survival was 72.1 percent in the chemo-alone group vs. 81.8 percent in the PSK-added group. Among stage III patients, disease-free survival was 32.1 in the chemo alone group vs. 60 percent in the PSK-added group. Overall survival was 46.4 percent in the chemo-alone group vs. 74.6 percent in the PSK-added group (a gain of 28.2 percent).

PSK was found to prevent the recurrence of lung metastases. Adverse effects were mild. PSK capsules taken with this oral form of 5-FU “reduced recurrence in stage II and III colorectal cancer, and increased survival in stage III.”

Cancer-Killing PSK

Paul Stamets : In June of 2009, Stamets received shocking and distressing news from his mother: her right breast was 5 times the size of her left, due to 6 walnut-sized lymph nodes. The swelling and the enlarged nodes turned out to be caused by cancer. By the time of her examination and diagnosis, Stamets’ mother already had stage IV breast cancer, and it had already metastasized to her liver.

The oncologist at the Swedish Breast Cancer Clinic at the University of Washington said that Stamets’ mother had the second worst case of breast cancer she’d seen in 20 years of practice. After predicting that Stamets’ mother had only 3 to 6 months to live, the oncologist told both mother and son about an intriguing new study using Turkey Tail mushrooms to cure cancer.

Stamets’ mother tried the mushrooms (along with the drug Ariceptin). Fast forward 7 months later… Paul declared, “As of February 2010, she was virtually cancer-free”.

There are numerous other articles in the peer-reviewed literature on this topic. Even the conservative Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center acknowledges the utility of PSK. Yet, inexplicably, this excellent natural product remains little known to most oncologists in English-speaking lands.

Bottom line

For people with cancer, there is little reason not to add PSK to their regimen. One reputable version comes from JHS Natural Products. Their PSK is a dehydrated hot water extract, which is 36 percent beta 1-4, 1-3, 1-6 glucan (i.e., the protein-bound polysaccharide with the greatest anticancer potential).


~ Be Well.