Turkey tail mushroom, like other medicinal mushrooms, has long been esteemed in traditional Chinese medicine. This natural mushroom is believed to have healing elements to strengthen the body against illness and disease. Here's how this alternative medicine works:
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.
Turkey tail 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. Turkey tail is not a magic cure for cancer, but it can definitely extend life.
Turkey tail 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.
Because of its positive effects on the immune system, it's possible that turkey tail mushroom could prevent cancer or help other conditions in which immune suppression is a major problem, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Research has yet to be done to investigate turkey tail's potential promise.
Preparation and Dosage
The usual dose is 2 to 3 grams of dried, powdered turkey tail mushrooms three times per day, either mixed into food or put into capsules. Specialized extracts known as PSK or PSP (which focus on single polysaccharides in the mushroom, to the exclusion of all other potentially beneficial compounds) were the actual form of this mushroom studied and are given in the same amounts as powdered turkey tail.
However, these extracts are quite a bit more expensive than the whole powdered herb. Crude turkey tail mushroom has been used successfully in traditional medicine for thousands of years, so it is unlikely these special extracts must be used for it to be effective.
Turkey tail mushroom generally stays potent for many years, regardless of its form. The constituents don't break down easily. Keeping it away from heat and light will help extend its useful shelf life.
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