Many mushroom varieties have been used for their medicinal properties for quite some time. In certain Asian cultures, mushrooms have been the active ingredients in herbal teas. Some have been known to boost the immune system or soothe indigestion or stomach problems. Given that there are over 700 species of mushrooms, how can you know which ones are the best for natural healing?
Turkey tail mushrooms have recently undergone many studies because of the fact that they may be effective for fighting cancer. The National Institute of Health (NIH), Bastyr University, and the University of Washington have all conducted research on the numerous benefits of turkey tail mushrooms.
Where Can You Find Them?
Typically found in the woodlands of China or Europe, turkey tail mushrooms are multi-colored and have a velvety body. Their wavy forms and brownish, reddish colors resemble turkey tails, thus the name. Turkey tail mushrooms aren’t specific to Europe and Asia; rather, they are found almost all over the world in forests. They are rich in potassium, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, and other vitamins and minerals.
Records of using turkey tail mushrooms for natural healing date back to the early 15th century. More recently, turkey tail mushrooms have been shown provide support to cancer patients. Results have come in for those with prostate or breast cancer. It is important to note that these patients were simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy. The chemotherapy weakens the immune system, but the turkey tail mushrooms help to strengthen it. The strengthened immune system can then assist in fighting cancer cells.
The studies have concluded that immune modulation is the primary role of turkey tail mushrooms in the body. The University of Minnesota deemed it safe for women with breast cancer to have up to nine grams of turkey tail mushrooms a day, when undergoing chemotherapy. Taking six grams of the mushroom was shown to increase immune recovery after receiving radiation therapy. More research needs to be done for general consumption.
What Are The Medicinal Properties?
When you boil the mushrooms, you accomplish several things. You kill any possible contaminants, soften the flesh, and extract the soluble polysaccharides. The mushrooms contain cobweb-like cells called mycelium, which have been under close study, due to their myriad medicinal preparations. After ingesting the turkey tail mushrooms, the mycelium help to target viral or infected cells. They excrete powerful antiviral compounds that have been active against the Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, and hepatitis C, which can cause liver cancer.
The virus-to-cancer relationship is fascinating when it comes to using mushrooms for their medicinal properties. Oncoviruses are viruses that can lead to cancer. Research on turkey tail mushrooms indicates that they may decrease your cancer risk by reducing cancer-causing things like oncoviruses. This is why turkey tails have been a popular source for cancer therapy in Asia. Kureha received a patent for extracting the mycelium from mushrooms in 1976, and this led to marketing polysaccharide Krestin (PSK). These became cancer drugs in Japan. Unfortunately, there are many requirements for a foreign drug to get approved by the United States Food and Drug Association (USDA).
This drug is not legally sold in America, but you can buy pure turkey tail products from various fungi vendors. It is not advertised as a cancer treatment alternative because it cannot be advertised in the U.S. or Canada as such. Instead, it is advertised as a supplement that can support the immune system, which it technically does.
When it comes to purchasing turkey tail mushrooms, make sure that you are getting them from reliable sources because there are many factors that inexperienced vendors may not realize. If you are unaware of where the mushrooms you purchase are from, you are eating them at your own risk. It’s better to know where they are sourced.