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LMU 242 – Boosting Immunity with Turkey Tail Mushroom: A Key to Breast Cancer Recovery


Boosting Immunity with Turkey Tail Mushroom: A Key to Breast Cancer Recovery

Source: Journal Oncology (2012)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (May 11, 2022)


Medicinal mushrooms, including Turkey Tail, have garnered attention for their immune-boosting properties. A study in Oncology (May 2012) unveils how Turkey Tail can enhance the immune system in breast cancer patients after conventional treatments. Its roots in Asian medicine and immunological activity suggest broader applications for immune support, particularly among the aging population. Explore the remarkable impact of medicinal mushrooms on well-being.

Unveiling the Power of Medicinal Mushrooms

Over the years, there has been a remarkable body of research highlighting the potential of certain medicinal mushrooms to fortify the body’s immune system. Among these remarkable fungi are reishi, shiitake, maitake, cordyceps, and the intriguing Tramates Versicolor, commonly known as Turkey Tail. In our journey to understand the profound impact of these mushrooms, we stumble upon an eye-opening study published in the journal Oncology in May 2012—a study that sheds light on how Turkey Tail supplementation can significantly enhance the immune system in breast cancer patients, even after enduring surgery, radiation treatment, and, in some cases, chemotherapy.

Revitalizing the Immune System: A Glimpse into the Study

The study we’re discussing here is not just a standalone revelation. It is an extension of prior preclinical animal investigations and early human clinical data. This body of research converges on a promising hypothesis: the constituents found in Turkey Tail mushrooms may hold the key to improving outcomes in both estrogen receptor-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. How? By counteracting the immunologic depressive effects of conventional treatments and bolstering disease-free survival through enhanced immunological surveillance and overcoming tumor antigen tolerance.

A Historical Perspective: Turkey Tail in Traditional Asian Medicine

Turkey Tail has a rich history in traditional Asian medicine, where it has been employed for its potential health benefits for centuries. Studies have spotlighted two vital proteoglycan fractions present in Turkey Tail: polysaccharide-K (PSK) and Polysaccharide-peptide (PSP). Both of these fractions exhibit notable anticancer properties.

Japan’s Prescription: PSK in Cancer Treatment

In Japan, PSK is routinely prescribed to cancer patients, offering support during and after radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Similarly, many naturopathic physicians (NDs) and integrative oncologists (MDs) in the United States have embraced the practice of recommending Turkey Tail supplements to breast cancer patients. The driving force behind its remarkable antitumor effects and impact on survival rates is believed to be its profound immunologic activity. Turkey Tail supplementation has shown the capacity to enhance both innate and adaptive immune responses.

The Optimal Dosage: 6 or 9 Grams of Turkey Tail

The 2012 study featured in Oncology administered Turkey Tail at varying dosages—3, 6, or 9 grams per day, depending on the patient’s condition. Notably, the most favorable outcomes were observed in patients receiving 6 or 9 grams of Turkey Tail daily, equivalent to approximately 1-2 teaspoons of Turkey Tail ground powder.

A Message for the Aging Population

While the focus of this study is on breast cancer patients, the broader implications are clear. Everyone, especially those aged 50 and beyond, should contemplate incorporating medicinal mushrooms into their health regimen. This proactive step may help stave off the typical age-related decline in immune system function that often occurs later in life. Various supplements containing medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, shiitake, cordyceps, and, of course, Turkey Tail are readily available. The studies we’ve highlighted today suggest that breast cancer survivors, in particular, may benefit from supplements that provide a substantial dose of Turkey Tail mushroom to fortify their immune defences.

As we navigate the intricate world of health and wellness, it’s evident that nature’s wonders, like Turkey Tail mushroom, hold the potential to transform our lives positively. In the pursuit of robust immunity and enhanced well-being, these remarkable fungi stand as allies, supporting us every step of the way.


Torkelson C.J., et al. Phase I clinical trial of tramates versicolor in women with breast cancer. Oncology. 2012: 251632. [Read the full study here](


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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