Turkey tail mushroom (Coriolus versicolor) also known as Trametes versicolor is a well-studied medicinal mushroom.
In fact, one of the world’s most powerful anti-cancer drugs was derrived from these studies.
C. versicolor grows amidst the trees of the temperate forests around the world.
Turkey tail grows on logs, tree stumps and decaying wood.
It has fruity bodies that overlap each other in a fan-like pattern, hence the name turkey tail.
The mushrooms are found in varying shades of brown and gray giving it the impression of being multicolored.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine, Coriolos is used to treat the lung (emphezema) and liver infections (hepatitis). In Japan it is a folk remedy to treat cancer.
Its use as a therapy for cancer promted research which led to the isolation of an extract that contained a polysaccharide that was dubbed PSK or Polysaccharide-Kurecha, the pharmaceutical compny that developed it. PSK also known as Krestin is an expensive anti-cancer drug.
The Chinese pharmaceutical industry responded by developing their own drug called PSP or Polysaccharide-peptide.
Both drugs are protein bound polysaccharides with the main active component being beta-glucan.
Turkey tail contains the protein-bound polysaccharide PSK (Krestin).
Krestin is believed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by activating various components of the immune system.
Krestin is often used in conjunction with cancer treatment for its ability to alleviate the side effects of chemo or radiation therapy.
The ability to stimulate immune function in immunesuppressed patients is a valuable tool in helping them survive past the five-year threshold.
Receptors for these beta-glucans are located on macrophages, T-cells and neutrophils, cells responsible for fighting infections and recognizing cancer cells.
Coriolus is therfore extremely useful in preventing the inception of cancer and in warding off infections.
Hot-water extracts of Turkey Tail are available in 400 mg capsules that contain 20% beta-glucans by weight.