Medicinal Mushrooms

 The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms contain high levels of glycoproteins. 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), that is found in turkey tail mushrooms is 100% effective at targeting prostate cancer stem cells and suppressing tumor formation during trials that injected prostate cancer cells into mice test subjects.  “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.”

During the research trial, which was done in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong and Provital Pty Ltd, transgenic mice that developed prostate tumors were fed PSP for 20 weeks.  Dr Ling said no tumors were found in any of the mice fed PSP, whereas mice not given the treatment developed prostate tumors. He said the research suggested that PSP treatment could completely inhibit prostate tumor formation.  PSP had been previously shown to possess anti-cancer properties, and ‘turkey tail’ mushrooms had been widely used in Asia for medicinal benefits, however, Dr Ling said it was the first time it had been demonstrated that PSP had anti-cancer stem cell effects.

Dr Ling says, “Our findings support that PSP may be a potent preventative agent against prostate cancer, possibly through targeting of the prostate cancer stem cell population…. Importantly, we did not see any side effects from the treatment.”  Dr Ling said conventional therapies were only effective in targeting certain cancer cells, not cancer stem cells, which are the cells that initiate cancer development and cause the disease to progress.  Link to article.

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.

Turkey Tail as an adjunctive treatment for breast cancer

At the end of his TEDmed Talk, Paul Stamets, mycologist and founder of the 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.

His mom 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 (a chemotherapeutic drug), 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 were at levels well above normal (this would not have been from the chemo which would actively suppress the Natural Killer Cell activity and immune system response).  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.  Constituents of chaga mushroom extract may interact with anticoagulant and anti-diabetic drugs.

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 Chaga Tincture:  40 drops of chaga tincture, taken two to three times per day.

Cordyceps Sinensis

Cordyceps Mycelium (Cordyceps Sinensis)

  • Has immune stimulating and anti tumor activity.
  • Inhibits the growth of several cancer cell lines.
  • Promotes cancer cell death (apoptosis).   Normal cells will self destruct when the cell is damaged, but cancer cells do not.
  • Protects cells from free radical damage. Free radical damage is a process in which free electrons damage our cells and our DNA and is thought to be a primary factor in the aging process.  Additionally when DNA  (genetic material) in the cells is damaged, risk of cancer development increases.
  • Demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties.  Inflammation is a factor common to many diseases, including cancer.  Supporting the management of inflammation modulates our immune system.
  • Has been shown to increase the production of Natural Killer (NK) cells. NK cells are primary protective cell in our natural innate immune response is active against both tumor cells and viral cells.
  • Inhibits metastasis and the spread of some cancers by inhibiting angiogenesis, which is the ability to create new blood vessels. It is metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from the primary original site of the tumor to other parts of the body that causes cancer patients to die.  Inhibiting metastasis therefore can prolong life for those with cancer.

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 Multi Mushroom Capsules

Primal Herb Chaga Extract
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Cancer is a wake up call which needs to be addressed on multiple fronts.  It is the result of an overly toxic body with an overwhelmed and collapsed immune system due to eating nutritionally depleted diets, exposure to toxins, and having poor lifestyle habits. Research an anticancer diet, adding supplements, detoxing the body, and making lifestyle changes so you can address a cancerous situation with a multifaceted approach.


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