Want to hear some really promising news on the cutting edge of natural cancer research? Bastyr University, my alma matter, is collaborating in a $5.4 million grant from the N.I.H. (National Institutes of Health) to research the effectiveness of the Turkey Tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor) on cancer.
Bastyr University Researchers Masa Sasagawa, ND; Cynthia Wenner, PhD; and Leanna Standish, PhD, ND; are the lead investigators. Brewed for thousands of years as a Chinese medicinal tea, and named for its colorful stripe, this mushroom may hold a key for strengthening the immune system while treating cancer.
The U.S. FDA recently approved a clinical trial for an extract from the same mushroom for patients with advanced prostate cancer, to take in combination with conventional chemotherapy. Another trial, which is pending FDA approval, will test its effects, along with a vaccine treatment, in women with breast cancer. The idea of strengthening the immune system with herbs while suppressing it with chemotherapy is an interesting inroad into the world of conventional cancer treatment.
Study participants, recruited at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, will take oral doses of a turkey tail extract developed in Japan, alone, and with chemotherapy. Researchers will measure levels and activity of natural killer (NK) cells and other immune cells. NK cell counts typically plummet after chemotherapy.
This study is particularly exciting to me as a naturopathic and homeopathic doctor as well as a breast cancer survivor.