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NMU 242 – Turkey Tail Mushroom Enhances Immune Function in Breast Cancer Patients After Radiation Treatment

Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 242 (May 11, 2022)

with Dr. James Meschino

Topic: Turkey Tail Mushroom Enhances Immune Function in Breast Cancer Patients After Radiation Treatment

Source: Journal Oncology (2012)


There has been some fascinating research published over the years showing the ability of certain medicinal mushrooms to support the body’s immune system. Medicinal mushrooms include such mushrooms as reishi, shiitake, maitake, cordyceps, and others including Tramates Versicolor, also known as Turkey Tail. An eye-opening study using Turkey Tail supplementation with breast cancer patients was published in the journal Oncology in May 2012 that caught my attention. This study showed that in breast cancer patients who had just undergone surgery, radiation treatment, and in some cases chemotherapy, supplementation with Turkey Tail mushroom significantly increased many aspects of their immune system that are typically damaged or suppressed by chemo and radiation treatments . As the researchers stated this study was an extension of previous preclinical animal studies and preliminary human clinical data, which support the hypothesis that constituents in Turkey Tail mushroom may be beneficial in the treatment of both estrogen receptor-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers by mitigating immunologic depressive effects of treatment and enhancing disease-free survival via enhancement of immunological surveillance and overcoming tumor antigen tolerance. As the researchers point out, Turkey Tail has a long history of use in traditional Asian medicine. Studies show that two proteoglycan fractions, found in Turkey Tail, polysaccharide-K (PSK) and Polysaccharide-peptide (PSP), show anticancer activity.

In Japan, PSK is prescribed to cancer patients routinely, both during and after radiation and chemotherapy. I is also a common practice among many naturopathic physicians (NDs) and integrative oncologists (MDs) in the US to prescribe Turkey Tail supplements to breast cancer patients. Its immunologic activity is hypothesized to be the main underlying mechanism responsible for its antitumor effects as well as its impact on survival rates, as Turkey Tail supplementation has been shown to enhance both innate and adaptive immune responses. The dosage used in the 2012 study, published in the journal Oncology, was 3,6 or 9 gm per day, depending on the patient. Best results were seen in patients provided 6 or 9 gm per day of Turkey Tail. (1-2 teaspoons of Turkey Tail ground powder)

I personally think that everyone over the age of 50 should consider supplementing with medicinal mushrooms of some type to help prevent the typical age-related decline in immune system function that occurs at this stage in life. There are many supplements that contain medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, shiitake, cordyceps, turkey tail, etc. The studies I am citing today appear to indicate that breast cancer survivors may want to seek out a supplement that contains a meaningful amount of the Turkey Tail mushroom to help keep their immune system strong.

I have included the reference for this research paper in the text below.


Torkelson C.J., et al. Phase I clinical trial of tramates versicolor in women with breast cancer. Oncology. 2012: 251632.


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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