Turkey Tail Mushroom and cancer? (dosage and side effects)


Can Turkey Tail mushrooms help treat Cancer?

Turkey tail mushrooms are known to boost immunity, which could help fight cancer cells. They have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 30 years to help treat:

  • Gastric cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Lung cancer

What is the recommended Turkey Tail Mushroom dosage for Cancer?

The recommended Turkey Tail Mushroom dosage for Cancer goes from 3 to 9 grams per day:

There are also other types of mushrooms with scientific research that suggests they can help fight cancer, such as:

What are Turkey Tail Mushroom’s Health Benefits

  • May improve insulin resistance
  • Helps fight pathogenic bacteria
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Treats HPV
  • Boost exercise performance
  • Promotes gut health (it contains fiber)
  • Antioxidant
  • Immune Support (treatment and prevention of the Common Cold and Flu)
  • Improved Chemotherapy Response (may help treat cancer)
  • Supports overall health

Turkey Tail dosage for immunity, digestion, or antioxidant

  • 1 to 3 grams per day.
  • Two 500 mg capsules in the morning and two at night with food.
  • No more than 6 capsules per day to avoid digestive side effects.

In the video below, “Mushroom Man” Paul Stamets talks about the many health benefits of mushrooms, one possibly helping to cure cancer.

This is our recommended Turkey Tail Mushroom supplement (Amazon’s Choice):

Host Defense, Turkey Tail, 120 Capsules, Natural Immune System and Digestive Support, Daily Mushroom Mycelium Supplement, USDA Organic, 60 Servings

Can Turkey Tail Mushrooms help with Weight Loss?

  • Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain a component called protein-bound beta-glucan (PBG) which can aid in weight loss through gut bacteria and metabolism.
  • Turkey Tail Mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals and can help reduce calorie intake which helps in weight loss.
  • Turkey Tail Mushrooms can improve digestion since they contain prebiotics, which can help in weight loss.

What are Turkey Tail Mushroom’s Side Effects?

Turkey tail mushroom has a low incidence of side effects which are typically mild and brief. So it’s generally considered safe.

  • cough
  • darkening of the fingernails
  • mushroom or mold allergies

Digestive Side Effects

  • gas
  • bloating
  • dark stools
  • heartburn
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Side Effects when used with Chemotherapy

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • low white blood cell counts
  • liver problems
  • loss of appetite
  • radiation rash
  • heart palpitations
  • fever
  • chest pain
  • cold and flu symptoms

If you have any side effects while taking turkey tail mushroom, stop use immediately and check with your physician. However, it is unlikely that anyone will experience side effects, as they may happen only in cases of overdose. That’s why users should begin by consuming only small amounts to test their tolerance.

How to identify Turkey Tail Mushrooms?

  • Cap color: contrasting, concentric, multicolored bands with shades of white, grey, brown, beige, orange, yellow, cinnamon, reddish brown and blue
  • Cap width: 1mm at the edge, and 2-3 mm at the wood attachment
  • Cap surface: thin, flexible, slightly fuzzy, silky or velvety, fan-shaped
  • Cap size: 1 to 4 inches on average, up to 6 inches, almost no height
  • Underside: white with roughly 3 to 8 pores per millimeter (about 3 pores per tip of a ballpoint pen), no gills, no stem
  • Growth pattern: dense, circular, overlapping clusters, shelves, rows or rosettes 
  • Habitat: dead hardwood stumps, logs and branches to decompose, in the wounds of living hardwood trees, and on conifers
  • Region: North America, and in many countries worldwide
  • Season: May-December, but can be found year-round depending on location and conditions, they release their spores in autumn and winter

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Paul Stamets

Paul Stamets, director of research and founder of Fungi Perfecti, is a Mycologist that has dedicated his career to the study of mushrooms and their healing effects. His 84-year-old mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and was given only a few months to live. She took turkey tail mushrooms capsules (4 g twice daily) and made a full recovery, then passed away at the age of 93.

Paul Stamets has theorized that turkey tail mushrooms help the immune system to discover and attack cancer cells, suppress inflammatory response, enhance the microbiome, and may be a powerful adjunct cancer therapy.

Study Details

  • Title: Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushrooms) and the Treatment of Breast Cancer
  • Duration: 3.5 years.

Subject Information

  • Health Status: breast cancer.
  • Age: 83
  • Number of subjects: 1.

Method used

  • An 83-year-old woman, was diagnosed in June 2009 with advanced, metastatic inflammatory breast cancer.
  • At the same time, she began chemo-therapy with Taxol and Herceptin, she also began taking capsules of turkey tail mushroom daily.
  • The dose was 4 g twice daily (Host Defense Turkey Tail capsules, Fungi Perfecti, Kamilche Point, Washington).
  • In December 2009, the patient’s chemotherapy regimen was completed and she began Herceptin maintenance therapy every 3 weeks, she continued to take 4 g daily of turkey tail mushrooms and added a combination mushroom formula (Host Defense MyCommunity capsules, Fungi Perfecti).
  • This preparation consisted of 17 species of activated, freeze-dried, organic mushroom mycelium, containing polysaccharides.


Three and one-half years later, the 87-year-old patient led a vital and active life, was disease free.


  • The documented immune modulation activity of the turkey tail mushrooms enhanced the ability of the patient’s immune system to discover the tumor, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy.
  • This is consistent with some of the basic science research describing medicinal mushrooms as modulators of molecular targets in cancer treatment.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Breast Cancer

Studies of turkey tail in cancer commonly cite doses of three grams per day, though a Phase I clinical trial in breast cancer cites safety with doses up to nine grams per day for six weeks.

  • Title: Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer.
  • Duration: 6 weeks.

Subject Information

  • Health Status: breast cancer.
  • Number of subjects: 11.

Method used

A dose escalation study was done to determine the maximum tolerated dose of a Turkey Tail mushroom preparation when taken daily in divided doses for 6 weeks after recent completion of radiotherapy. Eleven participants were recruited and nine women completed the study. Each cohort was comprised of three participants given one of three doses of Tv (3, 6, or 9 grams). Immune data was collected pre- and postradiation, at 3 on-treatment time points and after a 3-week washout.


Nine adverse events were reported (7 mild, 1 moderate, and 1 severe), suggesting that Tv was well tolerated. Immunological results indicated trends in (1) increased lymphocyte counts at 6 and 9 grams/day; (2) increased natural killer cell functional activity at 6 grams/day.


These findings show that up to 9 grams/day of a Tv preparation is safe and tolerable in women with breast cancer in the postprimary treatment setting. This Tv preparation may improve immune status in immunocompromised breast cancer patients following standard primary oncologic treatment.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Gastric Cancer

Polysaccharide K (PSK), also known as OK-432, induce anti-tumor effects via immunological responses.

  • Title: Efficacy of adjuvant immunochemotherapy with polysaccharide K for patients with curative resections of gastric cancer.

Subject Information

  • Health Status: patients with curative resections of gastric cancer.

Method used

They compared the results of chemotherapy and immunotherapy using the biological response modifier PSK as an immunopotentiator. The meta-analysis included 8,009 patients from eight randomized controlled trials after central randomization..


The results of this meta-analysis suggest that adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK improves the survival of patients after curative gastric cancer resection.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Cancer of Colon and Rectum

A randomized, controlled trial of adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK (Kureha Chemical Industry Co., Tokyo, Japan) in curatively resected colorectal cancer was studied in 35 institutions in the Kanagawa prefecture.

  • Title: Randomized, controlled study on adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK in curatively resected colorectal cancer.
  • Duration: 3-5 years.

Subject Information

  • Health Status: resected colorectal cancer.
  • Number of subjects: 448.

Method used

  • From March 1985 to February 1987, 462 patients were registered. Four hundred forty-eight of those patients (97.0 percent) satisfied the eligibility criteria.
  • The control group received mitomycin C intravenously on the day of and the day after surgery, followed by oral 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) administration for over six months.
  • The PSK group received PSK orally for over three years, in addition to mitomycin C and 5-FU as in the control group.
  • At the end of February 1990, the median follow-up time for this study was four years (range, three to five years).


The disease-free survival curve and the survival curve of the PSK group were better than those of the control group, and differences between the two groups were statistically significant.


These results indicate that adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK was beneficial for curatively resected colorectal cancer.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Small Cell Lung Cancer

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside radiation therapy and chemotherapy to treat lung cancer.

  • Title: Meta-analysis of adjuvant immunochemotherapy using OK-432 in patients with resected non-small-cell lung cancer .
  • Duration: 5 years.

Subject Information

  • Health Status: breast cancer.
  • Number of subjects: 1520.

Method used

  • The benefits of immunochemotherapy with a penicillin-treated, lyophilized preparation of Streptococcus pyogenes, OK-432 (Picibanil), were reassessed in patients with resected non-small-cell lung cancer through a meta-analysis based on data from 1,520 patients enrolled in 11 randomized clinical trials.
  • All 11 trials were started before 1991, and the subjects had been followed up for at least 5 years after surgery and randomization.
  • In these trials, standard chemotherapy was compared with the same therapy plus OK-432.
  • The endpoint of interest was overall survival, and analysis was based on intent-to-treat population without patient exclusion.


  • The 5-year survival rate for all eligible patients in the 11 trials was 51.2% in the immunochemotherapy group versus 43.7% in the chemotherapy group.
  • The odds ratio (OR) for overall survival was 0.70.
  • Analysis of four trials in which central randomization was performed also reconfirmed a significantly longer survival time for the immunochemotherapy group.


Based on these results of meta-analysis, it is postulated that postoperative adjuvant immunochemotherapy using OK-432 might improve the survival of patients after resection of non-small-cell lung cancer.

Want to know more?

Click the links below to access the individual topic pages:


  1. Torkelson CJ, Sweet E, Martzen MR, Sasagawa M, Wenner CA, Gay J, Putiri A, Standish LJ. Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer. ISRN Oncol. 2012;2012:251632. doi: 10.5402/2012/251632. Epub 2012 May 30. PMID: 22701186; PMCID: PMC3369477.
  2. PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®): Patient Version. 2020 Apr 21. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424937/
  3. By Jerzy Opioła – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25175312
  4. Stamets, Paul. “Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushrooms) and the Treatment of Breast Cancer.” Global advances in health and medicine vol. 1,5 (2012): 20. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.5.007
  5. Brown DC, Reetz J. Single agent polysaccharopeptide delays metastases and improves survival in naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:384301. doi:10.1155/2012/384301
  6. Oba K, Teramukai S, Kobayashi M, Matsui T, Kodera Y, Sakamoto J. Efficacy of adjuvant immunochemotherapy with polysaccharide K for patients with curative resections of gastric cancer. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2007 Jun;56(6):905-11. doi: 10.1007/s00262-006-0248-1. Epub 2006 Nov 15. PMID: 17106715.
  7. Mitomi T, Tsuchiya S, Iijima N, Aso K, Suzuki K, Nishiyama K, Amano T, Takahashi T, Murayama N, Oka H, et al. Randomized, controlled study on adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK in curatively resected colorectal cancer. The Cooperative Study Group of Surgical Adjuvant Immunochemotherapy for Cancer of Colon and Rectum (Kanagawa). Dis Colon Rectum. 1992 Feb;35(2):123-30. doi: 10.1007/BF02050666. PMID: 1735313.
  8. Sakamoto J, Teramukai S, Watanabe Y, Hayata Y, Okayasu T, Nakazato H, Ohashi Y; Japanese Meta-Analysis Group in Cancer; in: Japanese Society of Strategies for Cancer Research and Therapy. Meta-analysis of adjuvant immunochemotherapy using OK-432 in patients with resected non-small-cell lung cancer. J Immunother. 2001 May-Jun;24(3):250-6. PMID: 11394503.
  9. Protein-Bound β-glucan from Coriolus Versicolor has Potential for Use Against Obesity. Xiaojun Li, Peng Chen, Peng Zhang, Yifan Chang, Mingxu Cui, Jinyou Duan.
  10. Friedman M. Mushroom Polysaccharides: Chemistry and Antiobesity, Antidiabetes, Anticancer, and Antibiotic Properties in Cells, Rodents, and Humans. Foods. 2016;5(4):80. Published 2016 Nov 29. doi:10.3390/foods5040080
Turkey Tail Mushroom and cancer? (dosage and side effects)
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