Coriolus versicolor, also known as turkey-tail mushroom, is a fungus in the Polyporaceae family. In Japan, this medicinal mushroom is widely used alongside conventional cancer treatments. Polysaccharide K (PSK) and protein-bound polysaccharide (PSP) are components of this mushroom that may be a good treatment for certain types of cancer. PSK and PSP may also help reduce chemotherapy side effects and stimulate the immune system. If side effects occur after taking Coriolus versicolor, they are usually minor. Consumers may purchase this product locally or online.
For hundreds of years, Asian herbal medicine practitioners have used Coriolus versicolor to support the immune and respiratory systems. Over the last decade, scientists have begun to validate its medicinal value, especially with cancer patients. In one study, participants who had had stomach cancer tumors removed were divided into three groups. For one year, one group took 0.105 ounces (3 grams) of PSK alone, one group underwent only chemotherapy, and the third group had both chemotherapy and took 0.105 ounces (3 grams) of PSK. At the five-year mark, the group that received chemotherapy and PSK had the highest survival rate.
Research into the effectiveness of PSP as a cancer treatment revealed that this compound may enhance the immune system by encouraging the development of T-lymphocytes, i.e., cells that kill intruders. In animal and some human studies, PSP has been shown to slow the growth of tumors by up to 64%. In addition, it was able to stop atrophy of the cancerous organ. Some studies indicate that PSP may be more powerful than PSK at inhibiting cancer growth.
Other medicinal uses of Coriolus versicolor include diminishing side effects of chemotherapy and stimulating the immune system. While undergoing chemotherapy, cancer patients who took this supplement had better appetites and were able to maintain their weight better than cancer patients who did not. In addition, animal studies indicate that PSK and PSP may be able to prevent chemotherapy-induced immune suppression.
Mild side effects were noted during the studies of Coriolus versicolor. These included nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Seen less often were low blood counts and darkened nails.
Coriolus versicolor is usually taken in doses between 0.04-0.32 ounces (1-9 grams) per day. It is available in capsules, as an extract, and a tea. It is sold over-the-counter; a prescription is not necessary. It may be purchased at local health food stores, markets, or online. As with many alternative treatments, however, it is often best to consult a healthcare professional first.