turkey tail mushroom

Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits for Cancer

Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for many generations. Turkey Tail mushroom is one of those that have been used. The reason it is called Turkey Tail is due to the colors on the mushroom itself, these colors resemble a Turkey’s tail.


Turkey Tail mushrooms are said to have numerous health benefits. Thanks to Science, we are learning just how beneficial this Turkey Tail mushroom is. One of these benefits is that the Turkey Tail mushroom helps boost the immune system to help fight cancer.

Using a medicinal product that grows on trees and is a fungus did not surprise any of the previous generations. These people relied on plants and nature to provide healing compounds. Mushrooms were one of the main sources of medical aid. Mushrooms are beneficial to humans as a nutritional standing and also as medicinal.

Conventional medicine depends on a single molecule to determine the action. Natural components do not have one single molecule. To determine the action of the ingredient is scientifically very difficult. Traditional medicine can be extremely dangerous, although they are very potent and do the job, they can be deadly in the end. Natural components do not do that.

All those previous generations of so many cultures knew that nature was a healthier pharmacy, and they utilized all that they could from nature and the resources. The challenge Science faces now is to bring forth the clarity of how these worked for past generations. With so many types of molecules in each item of nature, that is the difficulty.

They need to prove to the FDA and all other governing bodies that these items, along with the traditional pharmaceutical medicines, will be beneficial in multiple ways for Cancer patients. These Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract products improve the immune system to allow patients a better chance at battling the deadly disease.

Science Explains

turkey tail mushroom

Scientific researchers of five different types of mushrooms, one of which was the Turkey Tail. These were looked at as a complimentary boost to other Cancer treatments. The evidence for this has grown greatly.

In fact, although Turkey Tail mushroom, along with the others, does not show positivity as a stand-alone cancer treatment, it does show that in combination with Chemotherapy, there were more benefits than either the mushroom alone, or the Chemotherapy alone.

The Turkey Tail contains different compounds such as polysaccharopeptide (PSP), polysaccharide (PSK), these two compounds appear as though they help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

There is more evidence that shows the PSP might also have the necessary benefit of boosting the immune system, when used in conjunction with other treatments.

According to the National Cancer Institute, science, in Japan, has isolated the PSK compound. They believe it is an adjuvant that goes along with other cancer treatments.

Colon Cancer

PSP has shown great results in colon cancer testing and research. They have shown that the extract from the Turkey Tail mushroom inhibits colon cancer cell growth. It is also thought that PSP can prevent the colon cancer cells from migrating and infecting healthy cells.

This research is all lab based, there has been none performed on humans.

In a systematic review and meta data analysis found that the PSK from the Turkey Tail is an effective and safe addition for those with colorectal cancer or in other forms of intestinal cancer. Those who reviewed the analysis believe that PSK from the Turkey Tail Extract has increased the survival rates, to the point that they highly recommend Turkey Tail extract PSK combined with the chemotherapy for the cancer treatments.

It must be stated that the FDA has not approved the use of Turkey Tail Extract for treatments in conjunction with chemotherapy.

In Asia, for the last few centuries, people have used over 100 different types of mushrooms to help fight the battle against cancer. There was also no evidence that a combination of Turkey Tail extract and the Reishi extract helped patients with colon cancer.

During the lab studies only, the combination of extracts was not beneficial in stopping or inhibiting the spread of colon cancer cells. Further research is greatly needed in the use of mushroom extracts and colon cancer.


turkey tail mushroom

Turkey Tail mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which help to minimize damage caused to cells by oxidative stress. In 2017, it was found that Turkey Tail Mushrooms have 35 different types of phenols, or antioxidant compounds.

Breast Cancer

turkey tail mushroom

In two studies performed on a small number of participants, it was shown that Turkey Tail mushroom as an add on therapy to go along with surgery, or chemotherapy, showed higher boosts of immunity abilities when taken in conjunction.


turkey tail mushroom

In a wider study performed with 4200 patients, the researchers reviewed 23 clinical trials that included Turkey Tail mushrooms. They found that Turkey Tail in combination with Reishi mushrooms and the medical cancer treatments did improve the chances of survival and also quality of life.

The consensus from this trial was that Turkey Tail along with Reishi mushroom extract would be greatly beneficial in regards to an immunity boost, the quality of life and also inhibiting the growth of further cancer cells in Leukemia, gastrointestinal cancers, lung and breast cancers.

Lung Cancer

turkey tail mushroom

A 2015 preclinical study showed that PSK from the Turkey Tail Mushroom along with radiation treatments, helped the patients live longer.

The extract also enabled the patient improvement for body weight function, quality of life and boosting the immunity.

Side Effects

turkey tail mushroom

Mushrooms are generally considered safe. The side effects that could arise would likely be allergic reactions, upset stomach, diarrhea, gas and bloating. One other possible side effect is a darker pigment in your fingernails.

The FDA does not regulate any form of mushrooms as a supplement, and they do not regulate supplements the way medicines are regulated. It is advised that you speak with your healthcare professional before using Turkey Tail mushrooms along with any other form of cancer treatment.

How Is Turkey Tail Mushroom Used?

turkey tail mushroom

For generations, Turkey Tail mushrooms have been brewed into tea throughout Asia. This is still the most popular method of usage. There are other possibilities of using the extract or the Turkey Tail Mushroom itself. It can be cooked into a broth. You can grind it into a powder and add to drinks, soups, smoothies or sprinkle on the food you consume. It could also be put into a capsule form.

As recent as 2019, researchers have discovered that a fermented substrate of the mushroom seems to have even more beneficial possibilities. However, further research is needed. No one is advised to begin using or consuming Turkey Tail mushroom in any form until they have spoken with the Oncologist.

According to the Lead Investigator, and Medical Director of Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center, Turkey Tail Mushroom is a really potent immune therapy. Previous research done by the University of Minnesota and Bastyr found that a supplement of Turkey Tail mushroom made a beneficial supplement for women fighting breast cancer.

The findings were based on the research including how chemotherapy reduces the ability of the immune system, but the Turkey Tail extract gives that same immune system the boost it needs to help the patient.

With continued research and scientific studies, along with clinical trials including placebo, the hope is to determine if the chemotherapy along with the Turkey Tail Extract supplement can lead to further regression of the cancer causing cells and also tumor regression. The research was successful in clinical trial using mice

FDA Approval

turkey tail mushroom

There was a challenge in obtaining the FDA Approval, unlike some supplements with only a few compounds, Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain thousands of compounds, all of which could have an effect on the immune system. The first obstacle included answering the FDAs question of what the mechanics of action is for the Turkey Tail Mushroom.

Considering that the mushroom is a natural product and not man made, it is difficult to determine that response. Other challenges included the variations from harvest to harvest. The soil make-up was a major factor. If the soil contained toxins and heavy metals, it was a safety concern and could not be used.

Japan had the answer in that they have been using a pharmaceutical grade Turkey Tail powdered product for over 30 years. This product was derived by using a hot water extraction process. The derivatives from the Turkey Tail are not able to be patented, this means that pharmaceutical companies do not want to provide funding if they cannot obtain a patent, and they also will not fund clinical trials.

The NIH is addressing this issue through it’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NCCAM. By way of this funding, Bastyr along with the UW collaboration is integrating verifiable medicines with naturopathic medicine.

Science is researching in all possible manners to speed up the process and give more patients that fighting chance. Governing bodies demand solid proof and at times, when using natural items, it becomes more of a challenge to determine each action of each molecule in the product. However, research is ongoing and will likely continue until the answers we need are found.