Can We Call Turkey Tail Mushroom a Covid Remedy?
So, you’ve heard the buzz: does turkey tail mushroom help with covid? The short answer is yes, but it’s more complicated than that: the studies say that the effect is limited and more research is needed.
Healing Properties of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
One of the primary reasons Turkey Tail mushroom has gained attention during the COVID-19 pandemic is its potential to support the immune system. The mushroom’s bioactive compounds, particularly beta-glucans, have been found to stimulate the activity of immune cells. These compounds may enhance the body’s natural defense mechanisms, helping to strengthen the immune response to infections and diseases.
Studies on Immune Function
Several studies have explored the effects of Turkey Tail mushroom on immune function. One notable clinical trial conducted in 2012 involved individuals with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. The study found that participants who consumed Turkey Tail mushroom extract experienced improvements in immune function, including increased activation of natural killer cells and enhanced immune response.
While research specifically focusing on Turkey Tail mushroom’s effects on COVID-19 is limited, studies have demonstrated its antiviral properties against other viral strains. The findings suggest that the mushroom may possess broad-spectrum antiviral potential, although further research is needed to determine its effectiveness against COVID-19.
Other 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.
Historical Roots of Turkey Tail Mushroom Covid Story (Yes, Really)
Physicians in Greece treated lung diseases using Amanitas (turkey tail mushrooms) 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.
Closer Look at Studies
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.
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