Extracts of turkey tail mushroom and its constituent PSK are used with conventional cancer treatment to improve survival and reduce risk of recurrence. The constituent PSP shows some benefit for pain, appetite, and percentage of body fat.

How can turkey tail mushroom help me? What the research says

We summarize the clinical evidence for each medical benefit here. We begin with our assessment of the strength of evidence within each category, followed by a brief summary of individual studies or reviews of several studies. In assessing the strength of evidence, we consider the study design, number of participants, and the size of the treatment effect (how much outcomes changed with treatment).

Learn more about how we research and rate therapies and practices.

Preclinical evidence is summarized in Are you a health professional? ›

Improving treatment outcomes

Is turkey tail mushroom linked to improved survival? Is it linked to less cancer growth or metastasis? Does it enhance the anticancer action of other treatments or therapies? We present the evidence.

Cancer as a whole

Modest evidencesignificant effects in at least three small but well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or one or more well-designed, mid-sized clinical studies of reasonably good quality (RCTs or observational studies), or several small studies aggregated into a meta-analysis (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of slightly better survival among people with cancer as a whole treated with turkey tail added to conventional treatment

Breast cancer

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of better survival among people with breast cancer treated with turkey tail added to chemotherapy

Colorectal cancer

Modest evidence of better survival among people with colorectal cancer as a whole or colon cancer specifically treated with turkey tail or PSK added to chemotherapy

Preliminary evidence of better survival among people with colorectal cancer treated with PSK alone

Preliminary evidence of better 10-year overall survival after curative resection among people with colorectal cancer treated with fluoropyramidines and PSK

No evidence of an effect on survival among people with rectal cancer treated with tegafur/uracil (UFC) and PSK added to curative surgery in a preliminary study

Gastrointestinal cancer

No evidence of an effect on survival among people with esophageal cancer treated with turkey tail added to conventional treatment in a combines analysis of 2 studies

No evidence of better survival among people with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) and unable to receive standard treatment treated with PSP alone in a preliminary study

Modest evidence of better survival among people with stomach cancer treated with turkey tail or PSK added to chemotherapy

Head, neck, and oral cancers

Preliminary evidence of better survival among people with nasopharyngeal cancer treated with PSK added to radiotherapy

Leukemia

Preliminary evidence of better survival among people with leukemia treated with PSK added to chemotherapy

Lung cancer

Preliminary evidence of improved survival among people with lung cancer treated with PSK added to chemotherapy

Optimizing your body terrain

Does turkey tail mushroom promote an environment within your body that is less supportive of cancer development, growth, or spread? We present the evidence.

Immune function

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of better markers of immune function among both people rehabilitating from cancer treatment and healthy people treated with turkey tail capsules

Turkey tail mushroom in combination with other complementary therapies

Preliminary evidence of better markers of immune function among healthy people treated with turkey tail capsules and Salvia miltiorrhiza

Managing side effects and promoting wellness

Is turkey tail mushroom linked to fewer or less severe side effects or symptoms? Is it linked to less toxicity from cancer treatment? Does it support your quality of life or promote general well-being? We present the evidence.

Blood-related side effects

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of better recovery from low lymphocyte, neutrophil and other blood cell counts among people rehabilitating from cancer treatment treated with turkey tail capsules

Body composition or cachexia

Preliminary evidence of better body fat levels among people with non-small cell lung cancer treated with PSP

Changes in appetite

Preliminary evidence of better appetite among people with hepatocellular carcinoma treated with PSP

Pain

Preliminary evidence of less pain among people with hepatocellular carcinoma treated with PSP

Reducing cancer risk

Is turkey tail mushroom linked to lower risks of developing cancer or of recurrence? We present the evidence.

Colorectal cancer

Modest evidencesignificant effects in at least three small but well-designed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or one or more well-designed, mid-sized clinical studies of reasonably good quality (RCTs or observational studies), or several small studies aggregated into a meta-analysis (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of lower risk of recurrence among people with colorectal cancer treated with PSK added to chemotherapy

Gastrointestinal cancer

Preliminary evidencesignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) of lower risk of recurrence at 3 years among people with stomach cancer treated with turkey tail used in addition to adjuvanttreatment applied after initial treatment for cancer, especially to suppress secondary tumor formation chemotherapy

Gynecological cancer

Preliminary evidence of lower markers of cervical and uterine cancer risk among HPV-positive women treated with a C. versicolor-infused vaginal gel

Head and neck cancer

No evidence of an effect on risk of 5-year recurrence of nasopharyngeal cancer among people treated with PSK added to radiotherapy in a preliminary study

Leukemia

Preliminary evidence of lower risk of recurrence among people with leukemia treated with PSK

Resources related to evidence

Medicinal Mushrooms: a Clinical Guide, Second Edition

By Martin Powell, a biochemist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine

Access the book

TRC Natural Medicines

In-depth information, ratings of effectiveness and safety and evaluation of specific turkey tail mushroom products; subscription is required

Coriolus Mushroom

Keep reading about turkey tail mushroom

Authors

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
View profile

Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Andrew Jackson, ND

Research Associate
View profile

Andrew Jackson, ND, serves as a CancerChoices research associate. As a naturopathic physician practicing in Kirkland, Washington, he teaches critical evaluation of the medical literture at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. His great appreciation of scientific inquiry and the scientific process has led him to view research with a critical eye.

Andrew Jackson, ND Research Associate

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
View profile

Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: October 7, 2022

Last full literature review: October 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

References[+]