Turkey Tail Mushroom for Cancer: What the Research Says

Turkey Tail Mushroom for Cancer: What the Research Says - Lucid™

From superfoods to miracle supplements, discerning fact from fiction can be a challenging task–especially when it comes to alternative cancer therapies. So, why is turkey tail for cancer on many people’s holistic radar? Particularly among gastric cancer patients looking for standard cancer treatment alternatives. Because the evidence lines up–turkey tail mushroom is even approved as an adjuvant cancer therapy in some parts of the world.

Today, we'll embark on a journey into the world of Turkey Tail mushrooms, exploring their potential in the fight against cancer, plus a research-based take on the best turkey tail dosage for cancer.

Let’s get started:

Key Takeaways

Research suggests that Turkey Tail may help combat cancer through its antioxidant, immune-boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies have shown promise in using Turkey Tail as a complementary therapy in various cancer types, including breast, leukemia, colon, and lung cancers.

Turkey tail dosage for cancer usually ranges between 1 and 3 grams per day depending on product type.

What is Turkey Tail?

Turkey Tail mushrooms, scientifically known as Trametes versicolor, are far from ordinary fungi. Recognized for their fight against cancer properties, they have garnered attention from the national cancer institute. They possess a remarkable range of health benefits. Before we dive into their potential in cancer prevention, let's take a closer look at these fascinating mushrooms.

Turkey Tail Basics

Turkey Tail mushrooms earned their name from the uncanny resemblance of their fan-shaped caps to—you guessed it—turkey tails. With a spectrum of colors and a distinctive concentric ring pattern, these mushrooms are not only visually captivating but also scientifically intriguing. They're found in forests across the globe, making them accessible to various cultures.

Traditional Uses

These remarkable functional mushrooms have been woven into the tapestry of traditional medicine in many cultures. Their traditional uses span immune system support, stress management, and even relief from anxiety.

Most often, we find historical reports of Turkey tail in Asian traditional medicine, like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). For centuries, the mushroom was incorporated into herbal remedies, decoctions, and teas to boost the immune system, combat fatigue, and promote overall well-being. In Japan, Turkey Tail was historically used in Kampo medicine, where it was brewed into therapeutic teas.

Indigenous North American tribes also recognized the potential of Turkey Tail mushrooms. Some Native American cultures utilized Turkey Tail in ceremonial rituals, often in the form of infusions or teas. These ceremonies were believed to promote physical and spiritual healing, providing a sense of balance and harmony.

These historical practices highlight the widespread recognition of Turkey Tail mushrooms as a valuable component of traditional healing systems, with a particular focus on immune system support and overall well-being.

Turkey Tail's Potential Benefits

The true allure of Turkey Tail mushrooms lies in their potential to offer a wide range of health benefits. These benefits lay the groundwork for understanding how they might contribute to the prevention and treatment of cancer. Some general benefits of turkey tail may include:

Fighting Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress plays a significant role in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer. Turkey Tail mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants, natural compounds that combat oxidative stress. By reducing oxidative stress, these mushrooms may potentially lower the risk of cancer.

Immune System Support

A robust immune system is our body's natural defense against the growth and spread of cancer cells. Research suggests that Turkey Tail mushrooms may help modulate the immune system, making it more effective at recognizing and eliminating cancerous cells.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation is a known factor in cancer development. Turkey Tail mushrooms contain compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can contribute to a reduction in cancer risk by alleviating inflammation.

Mitigating Treatment Side Effects

One of the possible advantages of Turkey Tail mushrooms lies in their potential to alleviate the adverse effects commonly linked to cancer treatments. Within these fungi, specific compounds have been found that may serve as guardians of healthy cells, shielding them from the harsh repercussions of chemotherapy and radiation.

This protective action can potentially result in a reduction in the severity of side effects like nausea, fatigue, and immune suppression, offering a ray of hope for those undergoing cancer treatme


Scientific Research on Turkey Tail and Cancer

While historical and traditional uses are intriguing, the gold standard for assessing any potential cancer-fighting agent is scientific research. Let's delve into some of the studies and findings regarding Turkey Tail's role in cancer prevention for different types of cancer, including its effect on gastric cancer patients: 

Breast Cancer

Research has shown promise in the use of Turkey Tail mushrooms, specifically a compound called PSK, in the treatment of breast cancer. In 2008, a review called for more research on PSK for breast cancer, proposing it as an add-on immunotherapy therapy.

A subsequent 2012 study with nine participants found that a daily oral preparation containing Turkey Tail improved immune status after standard breast cancer treatment.


A 2013 in vitro study revealed promising results for an extract derived from Turkey Tail mushrooms in treating leukemia cells, highlighting its potential to complement standard cancer treatments. Researchers found that a combination of Turkey Tail and another mushroom called Ganoderma lucidum exhibited increased potency. This may be because the two different mushrooms affect various biological processes.

Ganoderma lucidum, commonly known as Reishi, is another mushroom that’s frequently linked to cancer-related benefits. Read “Ganoderma Coffee Benefits: Does it really help cure Cancer?” to learn more.

Colon Cancer

In a 2019 study, researchers examined the effects of Turkey Tail and another mushroom extract on colon cancer cells. The combination of these two extracts was found to inhibit the spread of cancer cells and enhance the effectiveness of a drug commonly used in the treatment of colorectal cancers.

Lung Cancer

A 2015 review of clinical trials suggested that PSK from Turkey Tail mushrooms may help lung cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment live longer. It also appeared to improve various aspects of patients' well-being, including body weight, immune function, and quality of life, especially in patients with gastric cancer and lung cancer.

Other Cancers

Research indicates that Turkey Tail mushrooms may benefit people with various types of cancer, including gastric cancer. A review of eight studies involving over 8,000 people found that adding PSK to chemotherapy helped improve survival rates.

However, it's important to note that not all research has been equally encouraging, and more studies are needed to fully understand the potential.

Limitations and Unproven Claims

While the research on Turkey Tail mushrooms offers a glimmer of hope, not all findings paint an optimistic picture. A recent study emphasized that a combination of Trametes versicolor and Grifola frondosa proved ineffective in controlling the spread of colon cancer cells within laboratory settings.

These results remind us that there are areas where the potential of Turkey Tail may not fully shine. This underlines the necessity for further comprehensive research to unravel the complete spectrum of its effectiveness, especially in different cancer types and scenarios.

Is Turkey Tail a Cancer Cure?

Presenting a balanced perspective on Turkey Tail's role in cancer treatment is crucial. Discussing its potential as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments and the need for ongoing research.

It’s not accurate to say that turkey tail is a cancer cure. However, turkey tail can potentially work as a complimentary cancer therapy. It’s also most often used as an adjuvent therapy, meaning it’s primarily used to prevent cancer from returning once a person is in remission.

How to Incorporate Turkey Tail for Cancer

When considering the incorporation of Turkey Tail mushrooms into your routine as a potential cancer-fighting ally, it's essential to approach it with caution and knowledge. Here are some guidelines to help you get started on this journey:

  • Avoid Foraging in the Wild: It's vital to stress that consuming Turkey Tail mushrooms from the wild is not safe. The soil or the area around the mushroom could be contaminated with pollutants or harmful bacteria. 

    Moreover, some types of mushrooms can be toxic, making it difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish between safe and dangerous species. To ensure your safety, always obtain Turkey Tail mushrooms from reliable, reputable sources.
  • Choose the Right Form: Turkey Tail mushrooms come in various forms, including dried, powdered, or as an extract. 

    One common method is to chop dried Turkey Tail mushrooms and steep them in hot water, creating a therapeutic tea. Others prefer using powdered Turkey Tail or Turkey Tail extract in supplement form. The choice depends on personal preference and convenience, but we’ll discuss more about choosing a high-quality turkey tail supplement below.
  • Follow Dosage Recommendations: Whatever form you choose, it's crucial to adhere to the recommended dosage instructions provided on the product label. Do not exceed the specified dosage, as this can lead to adverse effects or unintended consequences. 
    The right dosage can vary depending on your specific health condition, so always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.
  • Seek Reputable Sources: When sourcing Turkey Tail products, ensure that you obtain them from reputable suppliers. Look for purified Turkey Tail supplements or Turkey Tail mushrooms that are certified for their quality and purity. This will help guarantee that you're getting a product that is safe and effective.

Turkey Tail Dosage for Cancer

Determining the right dosage of Turkey Tail for cancer treatment is a crucial aspect of its potential therapeutic use. Here's a closer look at the dosage recommendations:

  • Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) Dosage: PSK, a key component of Turkey Tail with potential cancer-fighting properties, is typically consumed by adults in a dose of around 3 grams daily, taken orally. This regimen can be continued for up to 36 months, depending on the specific health condition and the advice of a healthcare provider.
  • Turkey Tail Extract Dosage: Turkey Tail extract, which contains a heavy concentration of its active compounds, can be taken in doses of 1-3 grams per day. No studies have looked at the effects of taking turkey tail extract long term, but it can be continued for 12-16 weeks, or as long as approved by your doctor.
  • Whole Turkey Tail Mushroom Dosage: Recommendations for patients with lung cancer to complement their standard cancer treatment, following consultation with healthcare providers. Alternatively, some individuals opt for the whole Turkey Tail mushroom, which is used at a dosage of approximately 2.4 grams daily, taken orally. This form is often used for shorter durations, generally up to 12 weeks.

As with any alternative treatment approach, it's imperative to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable product, dosage, and duration based on your specific condition.

Your healthcare provider will consider factors such as your overall health, the type of cancer, including gastric cancer, and other treatments you may be undergoing as part of the standard cancer treatment regimens. They will provide guidance to ensure that your use of Turkey Tail is safe and complementary to your overall cancer treatment plan, especially for patients with lung cancer.


Remember that while Turkey Tail shows promise to fight cancer, it should not replace conventional cancer treatments approved by the food and drug administration, but rather complement them in consultation with your healthcare team.

Conclusion: Can You Use Turkey Tail for Cancer?

In conclusion, Turkey Tail mushrooms offer a fascinating avenue for potential health benefits, particularly in the context of cancer prevention. While they may not be a standalone cancer cure, their potential as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments is promising.

Remember, the key to making informed decisions about your health is to rely on scientific research and consult with healthcare professionals, especially when considering alternative treatments for cancer.

Turkey Tail is a piece of the larger puzzle in the fight against cancer, and as research progresses, it may hold even more promise. Stay informed, stay healthy, and keep an open mind as you explore the possibilities of Turkey Tail.

How to Choose High Quality Turkey Tail Supplements

When considering mushroom supplements, it's crucial to discern between options to ensure you receive the full spectrum of benefits. Here are key factors to weigh:

Whole Mushroom Powder vs. Mushroom Extract

  • Whole Mushroom Powder: This form includes the entire mushroom, retaining all its natural nutrients and compounds. While akin to consuming a whole fruit, it may lack the necessary beta glucans that provide therapeutic benefits.
  • Mushroom Extract: Extracts are concentrated and contain specific anxiety-alleviating compounds. The extraction process enhances bioavailability, ensuring consistent and potent results. However, extracts often omit the fiber and other nutritional components found in whole mushroom products.

Fruiting Body Supplements vs. Mycelium Supplements

  • Fruiting Body Supplements: Derived from the mature part of the mushroom, fruiting body supplements are richer in the sought-after therapeutic compounds, making them ideal for addressing health concerns.
  • Mycelium Supplements: a potential adjunct treatment for patients with lung cancer, as studied and scrutinized for safety and efficacy by the food and drug administration. Mycelium, the mushroom's root system, may not offer the same anxiety-relief benefits as fruiting body supplements. Some companies use mycelium to reduce costs, but this may compromise the therapeutic potential.

Labeling and Transparency

When choosing a mushroom supplement for anxiety, prioritize transparency and thorough product information:

  • Look for supplements from reputable manufacturers that provide clear details about sourcing, extraction methods, and quality control practices.
  • Ensure the label specifies the mushroom species used, whether it's whole mushroom powder or an extract, and the source (fruiting body or mycelium).
  • Aim for a beta glucan content of around 20% or more for effective anxiety support.
  • Verify third-party testing for purity and potency.

Opting for products with transparent labeling empowers you to make an informed decision and trust the quality of your chosen mushroom supplement.

If you want to take full advantage of the "functional" side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps,  Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more. 


  1. “Trametes versicolor Mushroom Immune Therapy in Breast Cancer” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845472/
  2. “Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer” https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/251632/
  3. “Regulation of cell cycle transition and induction of apoptosis in HL-60 leukemia cells by the combination of Coriolus versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum” https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/ijmm.2013.1378
  4. “Coriolus Versicolor and Ganoderma Lucidum Related Natural Products as an Adjunct Therapy for Cancers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31333449/
  5. “Polysaccharide K and Coriolus versicolor Extracts for Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review” https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1534735415572883
  6. “Efficacy of adjuvant immunochemotherapy with polysaccharide K for patients with curative resections of gastric cancer” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17106715/
  7. “In Vitro Anti-proliferative and Anti-invasive Effect of Polysaccharide-rich Extracts from Trametes Versicolor and Grifola Frondosa in Colon Cancer Cells” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367522/

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