Coriolus versicolorCoriolus versicolor (or Trametes versicolor), a medicinal mushroom, was chosen for this month’s issue because it is employed as an adjuvant agent in the treatment of cancer. It is popularly known as the “turkey tail mushroom” because of its resemblance to the multi-colored tail of a wild turkey.

Found throughout the world, coriolus is valued for its medicinal effects and its use is well established in traditional medical systems of Asia. It demonstrated antimicrobial, antiviral, immunostimulatory and antitumor properties in preclinical experiments. Data from clinical studies indicate that PSK, a polysaccharide product derived from coriolus, improves survival rates in patients with gastric and colorectal cancers without causing serious adverse events. PSK is commonly used in Japan to complement standard cancer treatments. Other coriolus extracts under investigation include polysaccharide-peptide (PSP) and versicolor polysaccharide (VPS). PSP has been reported to slow the progression of non-small cell lung cancer. Larger studies are needed to establish the effectiveness of coriolus extracts for specific cancers. Link to the MSKCC monograph.


The last two decades have seen a significant increase in dietary supplement use by cancer patients. Despite the proliferation of Web sites that contain information about dietary supplements, finding a reliable source can be overwhelming. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center developed and maintains a free Web site “About Herbs” that provides objective and unbiased information about herbs, vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, and unproven anticancer treatments. Each of the 278 and growing number of entries has healthcare professional and patient versions that are regularly updated with the latest research findings. The free About Herbs App, compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices, can be downloaded here.