Studies Using Turkey Tail Mushroom to Treat Covid-19
The first trials were looking at the combination of 2 mushrooms, Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) and Amanitas (Fomitopsis officinalis), both available as OTC supplements. The lead investigator for trial MACH-19 said that biologically, the mushrooms could have immunomodulating properties against SARS-CoV-2.
The interactions that mushrooms make up part of a gut microbiome involve binding to receptors on immune cells. For instance, T cells have receptors that bind mushroom polysaccharides. This is one of the mechanisms through which mushrooms may modulate our immune cells, potentially having an impact on SARS-CoV-2.
Physicians in Greece treated lung diseases using Amanitas around 2,300 years ago. Traditional medical practices were documented in several other regions. Recently, Agarikain has been found in preclinical studies to suppress several viruses, including influenza A(H1N1), influenza A(H5N1), cowpox virus, and herpesviruses. Compounds within agarikon have also been shown to possess antituberculosis properties. As far as the turkey tail is concerned, this mushroom was studied widely more than ten years ago as an adjunct in chemotherapy to treat various types of cancer.
In 1 example, women with breast cancer who received mushrooms as part of a Phase 1 study appeared to experience improved immune system responses after chemotherapy. A 2012 meta-analysis of 13 clinical trials conducted by researchers in Hong Kong found an absolute reduction of 9 percent in 5 year death rates in patients with cancer treated with turkey tail mushroom along with chemotherapy. The mushrooms are used to enhance immune functions suppressed by cancer or chemotherapy. The trials showed moderate improvements in immune function, but nothing big or definitive that will impact clinical practice. As a result, research on tumors with mushrooms has slowed significantly in the United States, but in Japan and China, using them for treatment is still standard practice.
Mushrooms evolved various antimicrobial properties to fight the bacteria and viruses that live on them, some of which infect humans as well. The MACH-19 investigators said they think combining turkey tail with Agarikakon has the potential to hinder COVID-19 by suppressing viral replication, and expect to test its antiviral effects in phase two trials. It will take some time for the results of these trials to be published.