Medicinal mushrooms have been employed for centuries, chiefly in Asian countries, to treat infections. More newly, they have also been applied in the treatment of pulmonary diseases and cancer. Medicinal mushrooms have been established as adjuncts to regular cancer treatments in Japan and China for longer than 30 years and have an expanded clinical history of safe use as single agents or coupled with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Turkey tail mushrooms are multicolored fungi that thrive on tree trunks and fallen trees in forested areas. They are numerous in various parts of the earth, including the United States.

These mushrooms have a disc-like pattern and varying colors. Their general form may match that of a turkey’s tail.

People have used these mushrooms for ages — also known as Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor — as a wellness supplement. In conventional Chinese medicine, people utilize turkey tail extract (Yun zhi) to treat respiratory conditions.

Turkey tail extract appears to produce few if any, adverse effects. But, a person should always discuss a doctor before taking it and only acquire a purified version from a trustworthy source.

Turkey tail is also acknowledged as yun zhi in Chinese medicine and as kawaratake in Japan. It’s so-called because it resembles a lot like the feathered tail of a turkey. 

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Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharopeptide (PSP) are critical composites in the turkey tail mushroom that may render several fantastic health benefits. Research submits that PSK may help tackle some types of cancer. PSK is certified for use in Japan as an additional treatment in usual cancer treatment. 


The researchers examined five types of mushroom studies, including turkey tail, as equivalent cancer treatments. They concluded that the evidence base for practicing mushrooms in cancer treatment has dramatically increased.

Yet, none of these studies recommends any mushroom extract as a standalone procedure. Instead, the researchers have discovered that these extracts may benefit people who use them in adjacent treatments such as chemotherapy. 

Turkey tail mushrooms comprise compounds called polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK). Both PSP and PSK seem to hinder the growth of cancer cells.

Some evidence suggests that PSP may also have the capacity to stimulate the immune system, particularly when combined with other anticancer treatments.

Researchers have separated the PSK compound. In Japan, PSK is an authorized adjuvant cancer treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the product for this application in the U.S.


Gastric cancer is the usual malignancy diagnosed in Korea. Analysts in Korea performed a retrospective study of survival in patients who received PSK as an adjunct to chemotherapy and those that only underwent chemotherapy (control group). Sadly, the chemotherapy regimens varied in that the PSK patients were treated with fluorouracil and mitomycin-C (207 patients). In comparison, the controls got fluorouracil with doxorubicin-based chemotherapy (103 patients), offering a potential bias in interpreting the results. The analysis incorporated patients with all grades of gastric cancer.

Another retrospective study of nonrandomized data estimated 254 patients with gastric carcinoma undergoing curative surgery with postoperative adjuvant therapy in Japan. Researchers analyzed 139 patients who received chemotherapy solely, with 115 patients who received chemotherapy along with PSK. There were no striking differences among groups in patient demographics or tumor symptoms at baseline. There were no distinctions between groups in 5-year RFS rates (52.7% in the PSK group and 52.7% in the control group) or 5-year OS rates (57.1% PSK group and 58.3% control group).

Data suggest that PSK, coupled with standard cancer treatments, can help with immune system impairment resulting from chemotherapy. While most of the investigation on PSK and stomach cancer is years old and a review terminates that people who took PSK along with chemotherapy survived the more prolonged cancer-removing operation.


A U.S. National Institutes of Health financed phase 1 clinical study that used a stock containing T. versicolor mycelium thrived on rice, which was then freeze-dried and heated, resulting in a statistically meaningful increment in CD8+ cytotoxic T cells (P = .0003), CD19+ B cells (P = .0334) and NK cells (P = .043) in a dose-dependent fashion in breast cancer patients.

Following all the analyses, the researchers decided that the extract added to developed cancer-fighting cells in the immune system.


PSP from turkey tail extract may inhibit colon cancer cell growth. According to some research, PSP may also hold the colon cancer cells from migrating and attacking healthy cells, the study authors reported.

The study was laboratory-based research, though. The team did not lead the investigation in humans.

A systematic review and meta-analysis found that PSK from the turkey tail is a secure and potent supplement for people with colorectal cancer or other kinds of intestinal cancer.

The research proposes that PSK may help build immunity in rectal cancer patients obtaining chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It may also check cancer recurrences and serve people with colorectal cancers to live longer.


PSK may also prolong the lives of people with lung cancer. Researches also suggest that somebody with cancer treated with PSK and chemotherapy may have a sounder immune function, healthier body weight, and renewed well-being.

Adding PSK therapy to conventional cancer treatments may also decline tumor-related symptoms and aid people to live longer.


The largest of the studies report infrequent side effects in people taking turkey tail mushroom or its extracts. Yet, because most of the studies focus on Japanese descent, other people may experience side effects. 

In phase 1 clinical trial of patients with breast cancer, most side effects were moderate, including:

  • Heartburn
  • Heart palpitations
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Radiation rash

One should remark that since people in these studies experienced traditional cancer treatments in attachment to turkey tail extracts, side effects may be linked to chemotherapy.


The active compounds in the turkey tail (PSK or PSP) are typically taken in capsules or tea. You all shouldn’t try to source wild turkey tail mushrooms. It’s difficult to identify mushrooms correctly, and some types are dangerous. Only specialists are qualified to distinguish wild mushrooms.


Turkey tail mushrooms may possess immune-supporting properties that support cancer treatment for some personalities. They also seem to help keep gut health.

Nevertheless, turkey tail extract does not heal cancer on its own. Instead, it may be a valuable addition to a medical treatment program under a doctor’s guidance and with their permission.

Always ask a physician before taking any supplements. Some can have serious side effects or intercommunications with other medications.

Turkey tail may encourage natural treatment in conjunction with other therapies, but establishing its benefits will require further research in humans.