Scientific/medical name(s): Coriolus versicolor, Trametes versicolor
Coriolus Versicolor (or Turkey Tail) is a common polypore bracket fungi that is easy to recognize, and is found the world over. In Asia, it is a highly regarded medicinal herb, and has been used in medicine for centuries. In China, it is called Yun Zhi, and in Japan, Kawaratake – “cloud mushroom,” and goes by the scientific name (Coriolus Versicolor).
For thousands of years Chinese medicine has prized the “Coriolus Versicolor” mushroom for its energizing and healing properties. Chinese legend is filled with stories of those who discovered the 1,000 year old mushroom and became immortal. In the West, acceptance is based less on tradition and more on the results of the scientific method. Researchers have been busy scientifically documenting what Chinese tradition dictates, that mushrooms are some of the most potent medicines on the plant. Recent research findings have shown the Coriolus Versicolor mushroom stands out above the rest for regulating the immune system.
The medicinal benefits of the Coriolus Versicolor mushroom:
Coriolus targets chronic illnesses, which include many types of cancers. Studies have even shown that it can regenerate damaged bone marrow. As well as treating human cancers, it is also used in veterinary medicine to treat canine cancer. Strongly antioxidant, Coriolus strengthens the immune system, increases energy, and delivers pain relief with no ill side effects. It also reduces phlegm, combats respiratory ailments, poor digestion, urinary infections, inflammation, liver ailments, and hepatitis B.
Its main effects are to strengthen the immune system, particularly by enhancing the workings of one of the most critical cells, known as T helper cells. T helper cells tell all the other cells in the immune system what to do and to what degree, and when to stop.
In cancer, the runaway cells often secrete compounds known as cytokines that give false signals to immune cells to stop working. This further enhances the ability of the cancer to survive. An unfortunate side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is that they further damage the immune system, in part by inadvertently killing T helper cells.
The Coriolus Versicolor mushroom has been the subject of a large number of controlled clinical trials in Asia showing that it can help rebuild the immune system in people with a wide range of cancers. The benefit is quite powerful, for it has been demonstrated again and again that turkey tail, taken together with mainstream cancer therapies, significantly lengthens lifespan by as much as double. Coriolus Versicolor is not a magic cure for cancer, but it can definitely extend life.
The March, 2008 BMC Cancer reports Coriolus Versicolor has shown anticancer activity with positive results in the treatment of gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers. The efficacy of its protein-bound polysaccharide as an immunomodulator is credited. This activity was independent of its previously described immunomodulatory effect on NK cells.
The journal Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy reports double blind trials on 111 patients with colorectal cancer, using Coriolus Versicolor. Although traditional medicine offers little help for colon cancer patients, Coriolus showed a remarkable enhancement of the patient’s white blood cells, even in advanced colon cancer cases. The white cells greatly increased natural chemotactic motion and phagocytosis, the ability to scavenge toxins and kill pathogens. Coriolus was also used with patients as a helpful maintenance therapy following cancer surgery.
Japanese researchers screened 200 of the best phytochemicals (plant extracts) known for anti-tumor activity. Coriolus Versicolor was designated as exhibiting the greatest amount of anti-tumor activity. In another Japanese study, 185 people with lung cancer at different stages were given radiation. Doctors found those who also took Coriolus showed the best tumor shrinkage and the best survival rate. Another study involving stomach cancer patients produced similar results. Those who received Coriolus survived significantly longer, felt better and had fewer side effects.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Because of its positive effects on the immune system, it’s possible that the mushroom could prevent cancer or help other conditions in which immune suppression is a major problem, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
The results of a year long clinical trial examining the effects of mushroom supplementation in patients with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) were so impressive they were presented in 2008 at the 20th European Congress of Obstetrics and Gynocology. Dr. Silva Couto and his research team found that Coriolus versicolor supplementation over the period of one year substantially increased regression of dysplasia and induced clearance of the high-risk subtypes of the HPV responsible for cervical cancer. Coriolus supplementation demonstrated a 72 percent regression rate in lesions compared to 47.5 percent without supplementation, and a 90 percent regression rate in the high risk HPV virus sub-types compared to 8.5 percent without.
After using the supplement for one year, 72.5 percent of recipients reverted to normal cytology compared with only 47.5 percent of the control group. Coriolus supplementation produced a 90 percent regression rate in the high risk HPV virus sub-tupes compared to an 8.5 percent regression without supplementation.
It is also possible that Coriolus Versicolor would be beneficial in high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL), a precancerous condition in which the cells of the uterine cervix are moderately or severely abnormal. The lead physician of the study noted that the optimal supplementation period may be as short as six months.
The Coriolus mushroom may also improve quality of life by reducing susceptibility to infections and other negative effects of having a suppressed immune system. More research is needed to quantify these effects, but they should not be overlooked, as living well is just as important as living.
No side effects from taking Coriolus Versicolor have ever been reported in its many thousands of years of historical use or in modern research. Coriolus should not be taken with immunosuppressive drugs, such as those prescribed to people with organ transplants, without first consulting a health care professional. Some people who have received chemotherapy and PSK (which is extracted from coriolus mushroom) have experienced nausea, low white blood cell counts, and liver problems. It is unclear if these side effects were due to the chemotherapy or PSK.
As always, consult with a medical professional.
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