Medicinal Mushrooms

 The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms contain high levels of glycoproteins and polysaccharides. Research reveals that glycoproteins can help cellular communications in three ways.
1. they help your hormones do their job better.
2. they help receptor sites receive the messages they are supposed to receive
3. they help your immune system to be able to differentiate rogue cells from healthy cells

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail Mushrooms–  Research out of Australia has shown that a compound called polysaccharopeptide (PSP), from the Turkey Tail Mushroom is 100% effective at targeting prostate cancer stem cells and suppressing tumor formation during trials.  “The findings are quite significant,” said Dr. Ling, who was in charge of the trials. “What we wanted to demonstrate was whether [PSP] could stop the development of prostate tumors in the first place. In the past, other inhibitors tested in research trials have been shown to be up to 70% effective, but we’re seeing 100% of this tumor prevented from developing with PSP.”  He adds, “Our findings support that PSP may be a potent preventative agent against prostate cancer, possibly through targeting of the prostate cancer stem cell population,”

Numerous scientific studies point to the fact that Turkey Tail Mushroom extract provides a host of medicinal and health effects for its users including:

  • Immune-stimulating, enhancing and strengthening effects
  • Cytotoxic T-cell stimulation and natural killer or NK enhanced cell activity
  • Anti-viral effects against human papilloma virus, herpes and Epstein Barr virus
  • Anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-malarial, and immuno-modulating properties
  • Anti-cancer effects of apoptosis and anti-angiogenic activities
  • Anti-tumor effects, like inhibition of tumor cell invasion and migration

Traditional Japanese and Chinese healers have long revered Turkey Tail Mushroom for its valuable parts and extracts. Such ingredients are used to create natural medicinal tonics meant for strengthening the immune system and maintaining a healthy liver function. They are native to northern forests throughout the world, and have been studied in China and Japan for their anti-cancer effects.   Along with the PSP compound, they also contain other anti-cancer compounds like beta-glucan proteins, polysaccharide K (PSK), and ergosterol derivatives, all of which provide health benefits.

A video testimonial for Turkey Tail Mushrooms and breast cancer

At the end of his TEDmed Talk, Paul Stamets, mycologist and founder of Host Defense supplement company,  shared the experience of his 84 year old mother who had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer back in June of 2009, and was given less than 3 months to live.

She had a 5.5 cm tumor in her breast, several walnut sized lymph nodes, and the cancer had spread to her liver and sternum.  Because of her advanced age she was not a candidate for surgery or radiation treatments, but her doctor suggested that she try medicinal mushrooms based upon the positive results from a study of turkey tail mushrooms and breast cancer that he had recently read about.   She was given Taxol, and began taking eight Turkey Tail Capsules, 4 in the morning, and 4 in the evening.

Within 4 weeks of taking the supplements. her Natural Killer Cells had boosted to levels well above normal.  One year later she had no detectable tumors in her body.

Paul Stammets on increasing Natural Killer cells with turkey tail mushrooms


Maitake Mushroom

Maitake Mushroom

Maitake (Grifola Frondosa)- is an edible mushroom known in the United States as “the hen of the woods” because it resembles the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen. In addition to its anti-cancer, anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties, maitake may also reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels.   In 2009, a phase I/II human trial was conducted by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and it showed that maitake extract stimulates the immune systems of breast cancer patients. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.

Other laboratory studies involved the use of Maitake D-Fraction (MDF), which is a standardized form of maitake mushroom that also contains grifolan, which is an important beta-glucan polysaccharide. The results of the study showed that MDF exhibits anti-cancer activity, has the ability to block the growth of cancer tumors, and boosted the immune function of mice with cancer.  MDF has also been found to be effective against leukemia as well as stomach and bone cancers.  A Japanese clinical study investigated the effectiveness of administering a combination of MDF and whole maitake powder on 36 cancer patients ranging in age from 22 to 57 years old, who were in stages II to IV. Cancer regression or significant symptom improvement was observed in 11 of 16 breast cancer patients (68.8%); 7 of 12 liver cancer patients (58.3%); and 5 of 8 lung cancer patients (62.5%).

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)  – its name means “supernatural mushroom.”  The beta glucans and polysaccharides that are present in reishi have demonstrated anti-tumor and immune-stimulating activities according to Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer center.

Reishi are too bitter and woody to eat as a food, but it is widely available to take as a  tea bag, in capsules, and as a liquid extract.  Animal studies have shown that reishi mushrooms can  improve immune function, is a natural anti-inflammatory agent,  and can inhibit the growth of some malignant tumors.  Dr. Sanda Zolj and Dr. Joann Lau, two research scientists at the Bellarmine University, have examined the ability of reishi mushrooms to kill cancer cells and identified active constituents responsible for tumor cell death. The results of their experiments suggest that reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides, powerful compounds that may aid in the recovery of cancer tumors by inducing apoptosis, or programmed cell death.  In addition to cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory effects, reishi mushrooms also have the ability to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, including  nausea and diarrhea.

Agaricus Blazei

Agaricus Blazei

Agaricus Blazei- contains beta glucans, a group of polysaccharides (complex sugars) believed to be the compounds responsible for its immune-boosting effects.  Research has also shown that Agaricus Blazei has anti-tumor and anti-viral activity, as well as moderating effects on blood sugar and cholesterol.

The antitumor and immunomodulatory effects of agaricus are due to immunopotentiation or direct inhibition of angiogenesis. An agaricus extract enhanced doxorubicin-induced apoptosis against drug-resistant human hepatocellular carcinoma.  Oral administration of the extract improved the natural killer cell activity and quality of life in gynecological cancer patients who were undergoing chemotherapy and preliminary data showed that daily intake of agaricus powder improved the quality of life among cancer patients who were in remission.

Chaga Mushroom

Chaga Mushroom

Chaga Mushrooms – Although chaga is an edible fungus, it is not commonly ingested due to its bitter nature, but it can be found in tea and tincture form. Chaga mushrooms are commonly found on Birch and other trees in cold climates and has been used in folk medicine in Russia and other North European countries for generations. Chaga draws nutrients from the tree on which it grows and extracts are typically derived from the inner layers of the bark. The active constituents are thought to be a combination of triterpenes, such as betulinic acid, sterols, and polysaccharides. Chaga has demonstrated anticancer, antiviral, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, immune stimulating properties in vitro, and hypoglycemic effects in mice. Chaga extract has inhibitory and proapoptotic effects against colon cancer  and hepatoma  cells. It also reduced toxicity associated with radiation  and inhibited tumor cell growth in animal models. In some studies, Chaga demonstrates selective apoptosis in tumor cells with no effects on healthy cells.

Mechanism of action- Chaga demonstrated hypoglycemic effects in mice with diabetes mellitus. It’s anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties are thought to be via inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). An extract of chaga reduced the oxidative stress in lymphocytes from patients with from inflammatory bowel disease . Chaga also showed anti-mutagenic properties . A hot water extract of chaga exhibited inhibitory and proapoptotic actions against colon cancer cell proliferation via up-regulation of Bax and caspase-3 and down-regulation of Bcl-2. Aqueous extracts of chaga also inhibited growth of human hepatoma cells via arrest of the cell cycle in Go/G1 phase and inducing selective apoptosis . The selectivity may also be a result of activation from a change in the pH of the tumor micro-environment. Betulinic acid, a constituent of chaga, is cytotoxic and triggers apoptosis through a direct effect on the mitochondria of cancer cells. Other apoptosis-inducing factors result in cleavage of caspases and nuclear fragmentation. Like many medicinal mushrooms, chaga is rich in beta glucans which have immuno-modulating activities. Beta glucans bind to Complement Receptor 3 (CR3) that allows the immune cells to recognize cancer cells as “non-self.”  No clinical trials have been conducted to assess chaga’s safety and efficacy for disease prevention or for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.

Constituents of chaga mushroom extract may interact with anticoagulant and anti-diabetic drugs.

Recipe For Making Chaga Tea: Dissolve one teaspoon of the dried Chaga Powder in one cup of hot water, and drink two to three cups per day.

Dosage for an Alcohol based Tincture: Chaga Tincture. Use 40 drops, taken two to three times per day.

Morel Mushrooms


Morel–  is easy to spot growing in, or alongside wooded areas. They are tan to dark brown with a honeycomb-shaped cap that extends up to 4 inches above its stem. You will find them growing throughout North America from April to June.

Morel mushrooms provide an abundance of antioxidants that help protect healthy cells from disease formation, and a variety of other nutrients. A 1-cup serving of morel mushrooms provides 136 IU of vitamin D, 271 mg of potassium, 128 mg of phosphorus, 28 mg of calcium, 13 mg of magnesium, and the 8 mg of iron. The fungi also supply small amounts of important B vitamins, including folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and thiamine.

Morel mushrooms can also help to decrease your risk of developing cancer, especially prostate cancer, due to their high levels of selenium and niacin. These results were noted by the Cancer Research UK study which looked at the effects of mushrooms for cancer treatment.


How medicinal mushrooms attack cancer cells


Additional Resources:

Link to Turkey Tail Mushroom extract for cancer treatment

More on Turkey Tail Mushrooms and cancer cells

Sloan-Kettering research on Chaga mushrooms

Maitake Mushroom extract induces apoptosis (cancer cell destruction) in breast cancer cells

Reishi Mushrooms and cancer

Could Mushrooms Aid in the Treatment of Cancer?


  Host Defense® Turkey Tail Capsules, Immune Support, 120 count (FFP)

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