Medicinal Mushrooms: Here’s to Life!

Posted on Oct 4, 2014 in Research


Here’s To Life!

In addition to being delicious, some medicinal mushrooms are helping cancer survivors to live longer.

The gorgeous photo above is of turkey tail mushroom, also called Coriolus versicolor. Coriolus grows wild in the Cascade mountains. (Pick carefully though. Some look-alikes are poisonous!).

Living Well, Living Longer

The Japanese have developed a hot water extract of Coriolus as a cancer treatment drug. In clinical trials, Coriolus lengthens life in people with breast, colon, and stomach cancers. For every 11 cancer survivors who take Coriolus, 1 more will live another 5 years. That’s a bigger survival benefit than what Herceptin offers for breast cancer survivors or what FOLFOX chemotherapy offers for colon cancer survivors, so imagine what the these therapies could do together!

Cordyceps lengthens life in people with hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer.

In my experience, Maitake is very helpful for supporting white blood cell and platelet counts during chemotherapy.

It’s important to match the mushroom to the patient. For example, people with leukemia and lymphoma generally shouldn’t take medicinal mushrooms. Women with hormone-responsive breast cancer benefit from Coriolus, since this mushroom also targets estrogen receptors.

Choose Your Mushrooms Carefully

Mushroom quality makes all the difference. Medical-grade mushrooms are extracted in hot water. Do not buy an alcohol- or alcohol/water- extract. If you buy bulk mushroom powder, you’ll have to take a lot, as it’s usually 50% rice.

Mushrooms are nature’s waste clean-up system, so don’t buy “bargain” mushrooms of unknown quality. Farmers use mushrooms to pull heavy metals and solvents out of contaminated soil. Since mushrooms are vulnerable to fungal infestations, conventional growers also spray their mushrooms heavily with pesticides. If the mushroom grower doesn’t specify growing conditions, you may be getting a heavy dose of toxins along with your medicine.

For this reason, I only recommend physician-grade mushrooms that are grown clean, extracted in hot water, and tested to confirm potency.

To get the most benefit, you also need to take the right dose. In the clinical trials that extended survival, people took 3 grams daily of a hot water extract.

To get started, consult with an integrative oncology physician to select the right extract for you.