#324 The Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms After Breast Cancer

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In this episode, we delve into the natural wonders of Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor).  

I’ll share some personal insights and evidence-based benefits of integrating Turkey Tail mushrooms into the recovery process, highlighting its potential in immune support and cancer care. 

Turkey Tail mushrooms have captivated the wellness community with their striking beauty and profound health benefits for centuries. 

Rich in antioxidants and polysaccharides, such as beta-glucans, these mushrooms offer a natural boost to the body's defense system.  

The episode shines a light on the scientific research surrounding Turkey Tail mushrooms, particularly their role in supporting cancer treatment and the immune system. 

Show Notes: 

  • Introduction to Turkey Tail mushrooms and their ancient use in traditional medicine. 
  • Overview of key components: antioxidants and polysaccharides, including beta-glucans. 
  • Discussion on the immune-boosting benefits and supportive role in cancer care. 
  • Practical tips for incorporating Turkey Tail mushrooms into daily routines. 
  • Reminder to consult with healthcare providers before starting new supplements. 
  • Encouragement to embrace natural aids in the healing journey post-breast cancer. 


Referred to in this episode: 

Fantastic Fungi Documentary 

Paul Stamets Ted Talk on Turkey tail and other mushroom benefits 

Medicinal Mushrooms The essential guide 

Articles and studies: 
What Is Agarikon Mushroom? 

Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version 

Turkey Tail Mushrooms For Cancer Treatment?


Turkey Tail Mushroom Supplement 


Hearts of Palm Rice 

Companies I use: 


Four Sigmatic 

Host Defense 


Follow me on Social Media: 






Read the full transcript below:

Laura Lummer 0:00
You're listening to better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm a breast cancer thriver. In this podcast, I will give you the skills and the insights and the tools to move past the emotional and physical trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you're looking for a way to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer, you've come to the right place. Let's get started.

Hello, hello, you are listening to Episode 324 have better than before breast cancer. And I'm your host, Laura Lummer. This is our Tuesday terrain talk. And this is a really fun one. I love doing these Tuesday terrain talks for so many reasons. One, because there are so many amazing things we can do to support our health. And yet it's so simple. In my mind and my perspective, my opinion, doing the things to support our wellness just really means coming back to simple things, the basics, real food, getting in touch with ourselves spending time in nature. We overcomplicate health so much. And although I will admit at some point, you know, we start talking about DNA and labs and all of these kinds of things. And we're looking at the details and get into the nitty gritty of what we can do to support our health that can be complicated. But I don't think there's a need to get into all of that before we get support with the basics. And today we're going to talk about something that I think is so cool. So when I started when I was first diagnosed with stage four cancer, I mean, I dug in fast and deep. What do people do who have healed their bodies from stage four cancer? I don't care what kind of cancer it was. I just wanted to know, are there people out there field? And what did they do, and there are a lot of people out there and they do a lot of things. And one of the things that I came across was a lot of information on medicinal mushrooms. And one mushroom in particular, there's so many benefits to mushrooms, and I'll talk about many of them in future episodes of this podcast. But for today we're going to talk about a mushroom that's been studied a lot if it is one of the most studied and most well documented fungi with respect to the immune system. And breast cancer specifically, this mushroom was called a Turkey Tail mushroom. Now I had heard of Turkey Tail. I think some of the more popular ones we hear about more frequently or maybe like Chaga or Rishi. And I was I was looking into some of these mushrooms. I came across this Netflix documentary. Somebody told me about it. I think I can't remember if somebody told me about her stumbled on it. It's called Fantastic fungi. And I've linked to it in the show notes for this episode, which you can find at the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash three to four, or where you're listening to or watching this podcast. So I heard about this documentary. And I think somebody told me about it. And I'm like, you've got to watch this. It's fascinating. And I did and I love it. And I've watched it three times. And I not only watch this documentary, but I was so fascinated by it. It's all about mushrooms about the mycelium, which Mycelium is this incredible network. You can kind of think about it like the root system of mushrooms, something underground that we don't really see. But in this documentary when the gentleman that's walking you through it, his name is Paul Stamets and he's an expert on mycology on the study of mushrooms. And he has an amazing company that I'll talk about a little bit as well. But he is sharing information and talking about the power of this mycelium and it's absolutely amazing. I thought it was like a magical documentary is very, very cool. And that's how I first got really interested in Turkey Tail. Because not only is this man talking about all the things that I didn't know about mushrooms, but he also has a TED talk that I went on to watch after I watched this documentary. And in the TED Talk, which I also link to in the show notes here. He talks about four different kinds of mushrooms. But he speaks specifically in that about Turkey Tail is the last of the fourth that he discusses. And the way that Turkey Tail played a role in his life when his mom was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at the age. I think he said at Forbes 83 or 84 and it's like a tear jerking story and his mom comes out on this TED talk and I was in tears like tears just rolling down my face. It was amazing. And so it's spend even more time reading about Turkey Tail and other medicinal mushrooms. And I want to share some insights with you about this amazing mushroom. Now, you know, if you listen to this podcast with any regularity, I always recommend we start with food. And I feel like for most of us, the best place to start is with food, because so many of us can stand to improve our diets a lot, and bring in whole organic natural foods, but also a variety of foods. And mushrooms are a really easy food to have a variety of because you can just take handfuls of them and throw them and things like salads and soups and dishes, I mean, I throw them in with pretty much everything that I make, just chop up mushrooms and throw them in there. But Turkey Tail isn't one of those kinds of mushrooms, because it's not really a culinary type of mushrooms. So I'll talk about that in a little bit and how you can access it. But most importantly, I think that when we're talking about something that you're going to access through supplements, it's important to give this warning again, just because something is natural does not mean it isn't powerful. And mushrooms, as you're going to hear can have some powerful effects on our body, on our immune system. And on our gut microbiome. If you're in treatment, or you're taking medications, for anything for any kind of health reason, then these substances, if you take them in supplemental form can have an interaction with other medications. So you should always, always check with your doctor before you start to take a supplement, make sure there's no interaction, and what you want to benefit you isn't going to harm you. Okay, be very mindful of that. So let's talk a little bit about Turkey Tail. And why this beautiful and is beautiful Turkey Tail is like this crazy, gorgeous looking mushroom. It's kind of a fan shaped like imagine the tail of a turkey when it's all spread out. And you can see like the layers of different colors and kind of like stripes and levels to the tail of a turkey. And that's what Turkey Tail mushrooms look like. Also, they had these rings of brown and tan, and sometimes even blues and greens. And they're quite beautiful. But they are also very witty, and very leathery, and tough. So these mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. And they've been used to boost immunity as medicines to boost immunity. And now, Western science is understanding the beauty of mushrooms and the medicinal qualities of mushrooms in her trying to catch up with what sages and healers have known for 1000s of years, which I think is a good thing. So now we can look at it from the western science perspective, which of course pulls out little things and compounds and elements of everything and says oh, this is why it's good. And that's why it's good. And that's fascinating too. So with Turkey Tail, mushrooms, we're looking at a couple of different components of this mushroom that are found to be very beneficial for our health. One is polysaccharide peptide. It's called PSP. Another is polysaccharide K, or P S K. And a third is beta glucans, which we're talking a lot about. And all of these play a role in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and improving immune function as studies are showing. And I think also a really cool aspect of it is that the qualities are Turkey Tail. And these components in Turkey Tail have been studied and shown to support people undergoing treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. And that's really important. So these studies, these polysaccharides, these beta glucans can actually enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. So they're not only good to help your immune system bounce back, but they work with conventional treatments to give them a boost. PSK is actually a patented medication in Japan, and it's used as an adjuvant treatment for cancer. And it's also widely studied in clinical trials. When you look at clinical trials of Turkey Tail, a lot of times PSK is extracted and used as a tincture and studied in these clinical trials. PSP is kind of the Chinese counterpart of that. And both of these are patented medications in those countries. And they are used to support people in cancer treatment. So that's pretty exciting stuff. And it's also exciting because this is ongoing research. And so since these months drums have been shown to have a lot of potential benefits, especially for breast cancer patients. There's a large body of clinical trials and science and stuff that's going into the role that medicinal mushrooms can play in supporting people in cancer treatment. So that's very cool. But again, because people are in cancer treatment using highly powerful toxic medications, want to be careful food, if you're cutting up button mushrooms, and she talkies and my talkies and you're throwing them into your food, I wouldn't worry about it. But if you're taking supplements, which are going to be much more condensed versions, and much more powerful extracts from these foods, than we need to be mindful. Okay, so we touched on a polysaccharides, the PSK, and the PSP. Now, let's talk about beta glucans. Because this is another form of polysaccharide, which is basically just a type of a carbohydrate is just a long chain glucose molecule. And they're found in the cell walls of bacteria, and fungi, including mushrooms, they're found in yeast. They're found in algae, they're found in plants like oats and barley. And the structure of beta glucans is really interesting is different depending on what their sources so they can have different effects on our physical bodies. And they can also have different health benefits depending on the structure of these beta glucans. But a common and really notable property of these beta glucans is their ability to modulate the immune system. So meaning they support the immune system. And they're considered they're called biological response. Modifiers sounds pretty powerful, because they have the ability to activate immune cells, like your macrophages, your neutrophils and your natural killer cells. And in addition to supporting the immune system, beta glucans, have been found to play a role in heart health, and also managing diabetes and blood sugar levels. So for their heart health, especially the beta glucans that come from oats and barley have been shown to be able to lower cholesterol levels, which is very helpful in reducing our risk of heart disease. And this is because they have the ability to form this like gooey layer in the digestive tract. So think of it insoluble fiber, and insoluble fiber. If you've ever taken something like psyllium husk or Metamucil and you put it in water, it kind of starts to create a gel, right. And that's that viscous layer. And so that kind of viscosity interferes with our ability to absorb cholesterol and bile acids in the small intestines. That gel like substance in our gut can slow down glucose absorption. And it leads to a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels after meals, instead of like a big spike in blood sugar levels, which is super important, not just for diabetes, but for us as cancer survivors who are managing our blood sugar and avoiding big spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels is an important part of our overall health program. So there have been small clinical studies, there was one in 2012 that looked at Turkey Tail, and it was observing the effects of Turkey tails on women with stage 123 breast cancer. And these women had completed radiation and chemotherapy. And the study found that the immune function was improved in this participants who took daily doses of Turkey Tail in the form of the pill. And the immune response was dose dependent, meaning the more they took, the better their immune system performed. And there were no adverse side effects found in this study. But it was again a very small study. So it does lead people to think that Turkey Tail can have a role in complementing the treatment of cancer care and supporting the immune function after our active therapy is done as well. So that's really important. Now plants have their own scientific names because there could be different varieties of them. And when it comes to Turkey Tail, this is called trim Metis Versa color. I like the word Versa color for some reason, because it just makes me think of the beautiful mushroom and all the colors that are in it. But Trump Metis Versa colors, this specific species of Turkey Tail mushrooms that's used in these clinical trials, and that has all of the benefits that I've been talking about. So this mushroom is known for its medicinal properties, more than its culinary use, because they're tough. They're leathery, and they're not something you're just going to chop up and saute or throw in a salad or grill up like a portobello mushroom. So they still can be used by cooking. And you can incorporate them into broths and soups and teas by of course throwing them into a base of water and letting the water extract the beta glucans and these polysaccharides from them so you still get In some of the medicinal quality, that's kind of how you make an extract, right, put something in another liquid form, whether it's alcohol or water or oil, and you let it cook or steep, and then it pulls those elements out of that food. So Turkey Tail can be used like that, as an extract, or cooked into broths, soups and teas that you have to let it simmer for a really long time to make kind of a tea or a broth with it, then you can use the broth, of course and the teas on their own, you can drink them and you can put them in other dishes. So they do have like most mushrooms do, and nice earthy flavor to them. So that's going to add that earthy flavor to whatever dish you cook them. I use a hearts of palm rice, which is fantastic. And you know what, I'll put a link to that in the show notes too. And that just popped in my head. And I do use it, it doesn't cook like rice, because it's a vegetable, it's hard to palm so it's low carbohydrate. But when I I make bone broth every Sunday, and then I use that broth and all the dishes that I cook. And so I do use the bras as a base, even when I'm using my hearts of palm rice or pastas. And it gives a lot of good flavor to those as well. So there's a little culinary pro tip there. So let's talk a little bit behind the mechanism of Turkey Tail mushrooms, and how it's thought that they support our immune system. So one thing is that they have prebiotic properties. So we talked about probiotics and prebiotics. prebiotics are those things that helped to nourish and feed the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut. And they helped to create that balance of the gut microbiota, which is really crucial for nutrient absorption and overall gut health. So when we talk about leaky gut, or when we talk about healing our gut, it's important that we incorporate prebiotic foods that feed good bacteria. And that's how we start to heal the gut. But it's not only healing the gut, we're not just thinking about bacteria. But a significant portion of our immune system exists in our gut, in our small intestine, our intestines, the bacteria in our intestines, you guys, it's absolutely just mind blowing when you start studying it. And you start looking into everything that is affected in our body by the health of our gut. So when we're talking about a prebiotic food that has the compounds in it, like Turkey Tail, and stimulates and activates white blood cells in our immune system, we have to think it's interacting in that small intestine, where a lot of our immune system is located. So Turkey Tail can indirectly promote a healthy digestive system, and a strong immunity and guard against gastrointestinal infections and diseases by the interaction that it has inside of our intestine, beta glucans and polysaccharides that are in Turkey Tail mushrooms help to smooth the lining of the digestive tract, so they help to reduce inflammation. And this is beneficial not only when we're trying to heal our gut, but if you have any kind of leaky gut syndrome or even inflammatory bowel disease. This is an excellent food to help support the healing of the gut. So when you're thinking about taking a mushroom in a supplement form, and there are lots of varieties you can find them nowadays there's a company called for SIG Matic which I buy. They have mixtures of hot chocolates and coffees and golden milk and lattes that are all mushroom based. You want to make sure you're getting a good source organic definitely because if we have the fruited body, so the fruit of body is what we see above ground, like the pretty part of the Turkey Tail mushroom that I told you about. That Mycelium is what is underground. And a good supplement often is a combination of the fruiting body and the mycelium. But obviously, since these are fungus, and they're porous, think about a mushroom, right? It doesn't have a lot of flavor on its own. You put it into a broth, you put it into a food, you season it and it soaks up everything you put in it. So do we really want a bunch of pesticides, if we're going to be eating mushrooms, I don't. So even when you're getting a supplement, look for an organic source. I think that's really important. And Cush, there's, you know, there's not a lot of regulation when it comes to the supplement industry. So if you've tried with your doctor if you feel safe with it, and you decide to start taking a supplement, and I highly encourage that you watch the film Fantastic fungi, that you listen to the TED Talk that I've linked to here. And I've also linked to a book that I absolutely love. It's a very simple, well written easy to understand guide on medicinal mushrooms. And it was one of my go to Resources when I was first researching mushrooms. I'll link to that in the show notes as well. But I want to talk about Turkey Tail on this so you understand and you can look into it, but I highly suggest that you do do your research on it. I will link to a couple of companies that I personally use. One is is the company that is talked about, in fact, in fantastic fungi, it's Paul Stamets company. And it's called Host Defense. And then another one that I'm linking to is called earth born. And I know the owner for that company, she's actually a friend of mine. And so I know her education her background, how she sources it, how important that clean and the safety and the quality of her products are. So I link to both of those, you can check those out and see if they work for you. I don't make any money off of them. They're just ones that I use. And I just offered them to you because I found them to be safe sources. So if you've never heard of Turkey Tail before, I hope this gives you a low, nice introduction to it spikes your curiosity a little bit and maybe helps you to think about looking into it further. And including this really valuable, natural, lovely ingredient into your healthy lifestyle and into your dietary routines. And if you're interested in digging in even deeper into your own metabolic health, go to my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com or click on the link where you see it in the show notes below to take the terrain 10 assessment. This is an assessment designed by Dr. Nisha winters. And I use in my metabolic health coaching, I was trained in it as an advocate trained by Dr. Naisha. And it gives you a lot of information on 10 different areas of your life, it'll give you a score of your overall health. And when you take the terrain 10 assessment through the link that I'm providing. I also have written a series of five different emails that you get for five days after taking it to help explain each of the categories in more detail. So I think that taking that assessment, when you're ready to really be committed and dig in to start making some changes, even if you're just committed to making baby steps, which I highly recommend that starting with that can kind of clear up the confusion a little bit because it can give you the highest scoring areas where you have meaning you have the most opportunity in those areas to make some changes. And then the emails that I'll send to you will help you kind of get an idea on little tiny steps you can take to support yourself in those areas. All right, I can't wait to hear if you love Turkey Tail or you already have good experience with it. I'd love to hear about it. You can find me on Facebook as Laura Lummer The Breast Cancer recovery coach or Instagram on the same and DME or come to my tree group, the breast cancer recovery group you'll find on Facebook and comment on your thoughts on Turkey Tail or questions about it. I'd love to talk about it with you. And ultimately if you'd like more guidance, you want to work with me you can come to my group coaching programs or even work with me individually and you can find all the information on my coaching programs on the breast cancer recovery coach.com and just click up on the top where it says coaching and programs All right friends I'll talk to you again very soon until then take care



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