Turkey Tail Mushroom In Lung Cancer Treatment: The Natural Immune Booster

Last Updated on November 9, 2023

Lung cancer has the highest mortality rates among both men and women, making it the primary cause of death from cancer globally. Generally, a man’s lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is approximately 1 in 16, and a woman’s risk is approximately 1 in 17. Both smokers and non-smokers have been included in those numbers. There is a lot more risk for smokers, but there is less risk for non-smokers.

The active components in Turkey tail are the reason why their medicinal qualities have been researched. It is well-recognized that these substances have pro-immunity, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Turkey tail mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for decades, but they are also becoming increasingly popular in the West. As a result, more studies on the health advantages of mushrooms are being conducted every day, with Turkey tail’s anti-tumor activity—including its ability to combat lung cancer—being one of the main areas of attention. 

In many studies and clinical trials, patients have been prescribed polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK), which are derived from Turkey tail mushrooms. These substances are thought to play a vital role in immunity.

The post outlines the two primary compounds in Turkey tail and how these may help modulate the immune system and prevent the spread of lung cancer.

Turkey Tail In Lung Cancer

Exploring The Research On Turkey Tail Benefits For Lung Cancer

The two active ingredients in Turkey tail mushrooms, polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and krestin (PSK), are at the core of the associated health effects. Turkey tail mushroom polysaccharide PSP has a significant impact on cytokine production. The human body uses cytokines, which are messenger molecules, to control inflammatory reactions, immunological responses, and other functions.

Polysaccharide-K, often known as Krestin, is the Turkey tail compound that has been studied the most. Clinical studies have demonstrated that PSK has various positive biological effects, including boosting immunity and having antiviral and cholesterol-regulating properties.

When it comes to cancer research, scientists have discovered a potential complementary benefit of using Turkey tail in addition to more conventional treatments like chemotherapy. Experts point out that the mushroom boosts immunity and provides cytoprotective benefits against chemo toxicity, in addition to reducing the adverse impacts of chemotherapy.

All the while, it helps the chemotherapy have a better-targeted route to the cancer cells, enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment. 

The anti-tumor activity of Turkey tail compounds has opened the floodgates regarding more profound research into the mushroom’s potential benefits against lung cancers and their debilitating symptoms.

Here are the ways the mushrooms may help combat lung cancer.

Turkey tail may help improve survival rates in lung cancer

According to a study published in the Journal of Anticancer Research, using PSK in conjunction with radiation therapy increased patients’ 5-year survival rates by up to 4 times across all stages of lung cancer. Notably, patients with stage III cancer who were taking PSK had a better prognosis than those with stage II cancer who weren’t.

Turkey Tail may prevent metastasis of lung cancer

Turkey tail mushrooms have a long history of usage in traditional Chinese medicine to treat lung conditions. They also have medicinal qualities that can be used to fight lung cancer.

A systematic review of 28 studies, including 6 randomized controlled trials, 17 preclinical, and 5 non-randomized clinical trials, found that Trametes versicolor, notably PSK, has immunomodulatory effects in the context of lung cancer.

In the RCT, which primarily used PSK at a dose of 3 g/day, treatment with PSK was associated with improvements in immune and hematological function, including shortening of the chemotherapy-induced suppression of bone marrow. It also increased white blood cell counts, platelets, hemoglobin, antibodies, activity of the protective NK cells, and CD4+ T cell counts (a marker of strong immune status). PSK was also linked to decreased symptoms related to tumors when compared to chemotherapy alone.

PSK appears to be more beneficial in Stage 3 lung cancer than Stage 4 lung cancer, suggesting its efficacy may be stage-dependent. Some non-randomized controlled trials found that supplementary PSK treatment improved 1-, 2-, and 5-year survival, as well as median survival. Preclinical studies attribute the anti-tumor effects of PSK and PSPs to the enhancement of tumor immune surveillance, as well as anti-proliferation and anti-metastatic actions.

Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushroom

The most well-known active components in Turkey tail mushrooms are PSK and PSP. Turkey tail also contains essential minerals like manganese, magnesium, and copper in addition to PSP and PSK. Additionally, the mushroom has beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that has been reported to have stimulatory effects on cytokines and white blood cells. These two decrease the effects of chronic inflammation and boost immunity overall.

Turkey tail mushrooms strengthen the immune system and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. They also have the following additional health benefits.

Stimulates the immune defenses

Turkey tail mushrooms and their extracts appear to have a significant positive impact on immune system performance. According to studies, the mushroom extract PSP, in particular, increases the activity of several immune cell types crucial for warding off infections.

Helps in viral defense.

There is some evidence that the extracts from Turkey tail mushrooms, such as PSK and PSP, can help treat viral infections.

Boosts the nervous system’s efficiency

Extracts from Turkey tail mushrooms may also be suitable for brain health. Oxidative stress can lead to cell damage, which can exacerbate brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Turkey tail mushrooms have been shown to enhance the immune system, which may help decrease cellular stress.

Protects the liver

According to several studies, Turkey tail mushroom extracts have been linked to improved liver function overall, particularly in cases of disease-related liver damage. Turkey tail mushrooms have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat liver conditions, including jaundice.

Enhances digestive wellness

According to some research, Turkey tail mushrooms may even benefit overall metabolism and gut health.

The benefits of Turkey tail mushrooms are primarily due to their bioactive component. These are only found in high-quality mushroom supplements.

Always look for a 100% fruit body when choosing a product that contains Turkey tail mushrooms. This is important because the supplement makers can add parts of the mycelium and the other substrate that the mycelium was grown on if it is not 100% fruiting body. Grain or another starchy substance is frequently used as the substrate. Search for the terms “no mycelium on grain” or “100% fruit body.” 

The second thing to check is if the back of the product has a list of the beta-glucan levels. Many fungal cell walls contain beta-glucans, a polysaccharide that supports both healthy immune response and digestion.

There are several reasons why it’s crucial to look for the highest beta-glucan content in Turkey Tail supplements. It first shows that the company tests its products, which is essential because there is no reliable way to determine beta-glucan levels if a product is not tested. Secondly, it provides consumers with the precise beta-glucan content levels of the product, enabling them to make an informed choice and choose the most potent option. A product’s beta-glucan content typically appears on the product’s box or website.

The extraction process is crucial when choosing a Turkey Tail supplement while selecting tinctures. This is crucial because different extraction techniques render the various therapeutic compounds of mushrooms bioavailable. To get the maximum advantages, look for a Turkey Tail product that uses double extraction, as beta-glucans are soluble in water, and triterpenes are soluble in alcohol.

FAQs about Turkey Tail Mushroom For Lung Cancer

What Is The Dose Of Turkey Tail Mushroom For Lung Cancer?

Turkey tail mushroom is typically taken twice or three times daily by people with lung cancer. Supplements can be used orally for up to 12 weeks at this dosage. Before beginning any new supplement program, speak with your physician or another healthcare provider.

What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Turkey Tail Mushroom For Lung Cancer?

Turkey tail mushrooms are typically safe to take in moderation. Even when used as prescribed, the mushrooms may have mild side effects for certain people. Black stools, constipation, heartburn, and stomach discomfort are a few side effects linked to its use.

Is Turkey Tail Mushroom Good For Lungs?

In traditional Chinese medicine, Turkey tail has long been utilized to treat lung conditions. They might work well as supplements for respiratory conditions like shortness of breath and lung cancer.

What Types Of Cancer Does Turkey Tail Help?

Turkey tail has been reported to be beneficial for colorectal, stomach, lung, esophagus, nasopharyngeal, ovarian, prostate, uterine, cervical, skin, breast, and colorectal cancer. Its polysaccharides may help stop cancer cells from proliferating and spreading. When used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, Turkey Tail mushroom extract has the potential to enhance treatment results and lower the chance of cancer recurrence.

Is Turkey Tail A Drug?

Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom rich in multiple compounds and antioxidants. Research suggests that it could support the treatment of certain cancers, preserve healthy gut flora, and strengthen the immune system.


Turkey tail mushrooms may help treat lung cancer by strengthening the immune system. However, Turkey tail products are not a cure for lung cancer. Instead, when used under a physician’s guidance and with their consent, it might be a beneficial supplement to a medical treatment plan.


1. WHO. Lung cancer.

2. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Lung Cancer.

3. Oncotarget. Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy.4. Integrative Cancer Therapies. Polysaccharide K and Coriolus versicolor Extracts for Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review.


  • Dr. Sony Sherpa has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Guangzhou Medical University and has been studying medicinal mushrooms for more than 7 years. Her knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is backed by a master's degree in Holistic Medicine and contributes to many health articles around the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

World Mushroom Society is a collective of fungi enthusiasts and health advocates, sharing information, research, studies, and identifying top producers of high quality medicinal mushroom supplements.


The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information found here is not meant as a substitute for, or alternative to, information from your doctor for ongoing medical treatment you currently receive. If unsure, please consult with your doctor before using medicinal mushrooms. Any content related to cancer should not be considered as prescriptive medical advice and should not be a substitute for any cancer treatment, unless advised by your doctor first. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by TGA and FDA-approved research. If you are pregnant or on prescription drugs that thin the blood, consult with your medical professional before using medicinal mushrooms.
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