Friday, December 1, 2023

The magnificent turkey tail mushroom has been used medicinally for millennia

I have certainly seen lots of it all over.  likely our most common fungus.  Sadly, it is  not too digestible at all, but powdered it makes ausegful addition to soupvat least.

so it is not a waste to use at all.

We are now seeing a huge number of edinle mushrooms surface in our stores which is good.  They are a natural source of vitimin D in most cases.

The magnificent turkey tail mushroom has been used medicinally for millennia in Asia and is now being used to support conventional cancer treatment.



Turkey tail mushroom is a powerful medicine. Rich in antioxidants, it boosts the immune system, supports digestion, benefits the microbiome, and supports cancer treatment. It's also one of the best-researched medicinal mushrooms, with more than 1,000 entries in the PubMed database.

Turkey tail, or Trametes versicolor (previously known as Coriolus versicolor), is a bracket fungus and member of the polypore family. Found almost anywhere in the world where there are trees, they grow on dead and dying wood, branches, and fallen logs. Turkey tail mushrooms are easy to find and ubiquitous in North American forests. Named for their colorful concentric rings that resemble the tail feathers of a turkey, they've been used medicinally throughout Asia for thousands of years.

Although not particularly delicious as its texture is tough and leathery, harvested turkey tail is usually dried, turned into a powder, and made into tea. It can also be added to foods—such as soups, stews, and smoothies.

Boosts the Immune SystemMushrooms have been used for millennia in Chinese medicine for their immune-enhancing effects and are revered for their ability to fortify the body, boost immunity, and enhance longevity.

One of the ways mushrooms affect the immune system is by stimulating the production of cytokines.

“Cytokines are small, soluble proteins that act as intracellular mediators in an immune response,” reads a review titled “Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology," published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal.

“It is well-established that mushrooms are adept at immune modulation and affect hematopoietic stem cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, T cells, dendritic cells (DCs), and natural killer (NK) cells.

“Extensive research over the last 40 years has demonstrated that mushrooms have potent antineoplastic properties that slow growth of tumors, regulate tumor genes, decrease tumoral angioneogenesis, and increase malignant-cell phagocytosis. Additionally, evidence suggests that medicinal mushrooms may safely boost chemotherapeutic efficacy and simultaneously protect against bone marrow suppression.”

Turkey tail is adaptogenic, meaning it helps our body adapt to stress by managing its harmful effects. Adaptogens also have a normalizing effect on the body’s processes (homeostasis) and protect us from stress-related damage. They help us to adapt to stress via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis—the body’s primary stress response system.

Mushrooms and CancerTurkey tail mushrooms contain bioactive compounds called beta-glucans, which include polysaccharide-K (PSK), also known as krestin, and polysaccharide peptide (PSP). These compounds have potent anti-cancer effects that include inhibiting tumor growth, inhibiting metastasis, helping fight cancer cells, modulating the immune system, and suppressing inflammation.

Turkey tail and other medicinal mushrooms such as reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), shiitake (Lentinus edodes), and maitake (Grifola frondosa) are approved adjuvant therapies to standard cancer treatments in China and Japan and have been for more than three decades.

According to a review, both PSK and PSP have documented anti-cancer activity in cell studies, animal studies, and human trials.

PSK has been used effectively for treating gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast, and lung cancers.

PSP helps improve "the survival and quality of life in patients suffering cancers, hepatopathy, hyperlipidemia, chronic bronchitis, and other complex diseases," according to an article in Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science.

A systemic review and meta-analysis looked at the safety and efficacy of PSK for patients with gastrointestinal cancer, with or without chemotherapy. Gastrointestinal cancer refers to a group of cancers that includes liver, pancreatic, esophageal, gastric, and colorectal cancer. A total of 23 trials that involved 10,684 patients were included. The review found that treatment with PSK substantially increased overall survival between one and five years, was positively associated with overall survival between six and seven years, and substantially increased one- to seven-year disease-free survival, with no increases in side effects.

The meta-analysis concluded that when used in conjunction with chemotherapy, PSK was superior, finding that the combination dramatically increased three- and five-year survival overall, leading the authors to conclude that PSK was safe and effective for patients with gastrointestinal cancer.

Breast CancerA study in Global Advances in Health and Medicine discusses the case of an 83-year-old woman diagnosed with advanced, metastatic inflammatory breast cancer. In addition to receiving chemotherapy treatments, she began taking four grams of turkey tail capsules twice daily, made by Host Defense.

Six months later, when the chemotherapy treatments were complete, the patient continued taking the turkey tail capsules and began taking Herceptin therapy–a targeted anti-cancer drug–every three weeks. She also began taking another combination mushroom formula (Host Defense MyCommunity Capsules) containing 17 species of mushroom mycelium. At the time of the study’s publication, the patient, who was then 87, was reported to be living a “vital and active life,” was free of disease, and was still taking her daily dose of the turkey tail, combination mushroom supplement, and Herceptin every three weeks.

A study published in the International Journal of Oncology showed that PSP from turkey tail enhanced the cytotoxicity of the cancer drugs doxorubicin and etoposide in breast cancer cells.

In a multi-center, longitudinal, self-control study, 82 breast cancer patients took turkey tail and dan shen (Salviae miltiorrhizae)—a Chinese herb used for breaking up masses and improving circulation–daily for six months. The women had significantly improved physical function, less fatigue, improved appetite and quality of sleep, more regular bowel movements, and improved emotional stability. The only reported side effects were mild sore throat and dry mouth.

Turkey Tail in Chinese MedicineIn Chinese medicine, turkey tail is called Yun Zhi, and its use goes back to at least the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty. Asian cultures used turkey tail and other medicinal mushrooms to fortify health, fight infections, increase longevity, and enhance spiritual attunement.

In Japan, turkey tail is known as “kawaritake,” or cloud mushroom.

Turkey tail and other medicinal mushrooms are used as overall tonics to fortify the body and protect against disease. Turkey tail achieves this by strengthening qi—our body’s vital energy.

Uses in Chinese medicine include benefiting digestion—especially for poor appetite and diarrhea. It acts on the liver, treating hepatitis and cirrhosis, and is used to counter the effects of conventional cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation) and pulmonary issues such as cough and asthma. Turkey tail also regulates the functions of the immune system and is thought to increase longevity.

SafetyTurkey tail is considered safe and well tolerated; however, it does have numerous look-alikes—approximately 15 species in the United States and Canada. If you're foraging, be careful that you have identified turkey tail correctly. Having a good field guide is highly recommended. According to Midwest American Mycological Information, there are “no poisonous species of Trametes anywhere in the world, and most have medicinal benefits.” Turkey tail is one kind of Trametes.

Turkey tail is available as a supplement in capsule, powder, and tincture form and can be purchased in health food shops or online. Remember, always use caution if you're on any medications, and be sure to speak to a health care practitioner before adding any new supplements to avoid interactions.

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