Coriolus Versicolor In Traditional Chinese Medicine

Tao Newsletter

Coriolus Versicolor in Traditional Chinese Medicine

†Product Use Information

Coriolus versicolor has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Known as Yun zhi in China and Kawaratake in Japan this mushroom was referenced in the Chinese Compendium of Materia Medica as far back as the 15th century.

The Ming dynasty edition of the Materia Medica states that " The black and green Yun zhi are beneficial to one's spirit and vital energy, and strengthen one's tendon and bone. If Yun zhi is taken for a long time, it will make one vigorous and live long."

Modern clinical research has focused on using the water extracts of this mushroom to stimulate and strengthen the immune health of people with cancer.

In Traditional East Asian Medicine the texts call for 6-12 gram of dried mushrooms per day, prepared in a tea. The daily amount, taken as tea, should be split between morning and evening.

The dried mushroom can easily be ground to a powder in a coffee grinder, or can be purchased already ground (please specify in order).

Bring the tea just to a boil then immediately turn down to a simmer. Do not boil the tea past the initial boil, it will degrade the medicinal compounds. For maximum benefit you can simmer the tea from 2-4 hours, although a fairly strong tea can be made in 20-30 minutes. The grounds can be re-heated with benefit, discard the grounds when they no longer produce color in the tea.

Filter the tea through a coffee filter before drinking. As mentioned the grounds can be re-used as long as they produce color in the tea. Any un-used portion of the tea can be refrigerated and used up to two days later. Shake the stored tea before using it.

While herbalists claim Coriolus versicolor and its extracts are useful against a number of conditions, including cancer and certain infections, it is unclear how effective extracts of the mushroom itself may be. These extracts are sold as dietary supplements in the United States.

Researchers have found that PSK, one of the substances that can be extracted from Coriolus versicolor, has several anti-cancer properties, including slowing the spread of cancer cells in the body. PSK also appears to have some immune boosting properties in people getting chemotherapy, and may lessen some side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. PSK is also believed to be a strong antioxidant, a compound that blocks the action of activated oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, and can damage cells.

The effects of PSP are less well known. Some lab evidence suggests it may slow the growth of certain tumors, boost the immune system, and make radiation therapy work better, but itís not clear whether it will have these effects in people.

What is the history behind Coriolus versicolor?

Coriolus versicolor has been a component of traditional Asian medicine for centuries. In the 1980s, the Japanese government approved the use of PSK for treating several types of cancers. In Japan, PSK is a best-selling anticancer drug. It is currently used as a cancer treatment in Japan along with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. PSP was discovered more recently, and has been studied mainly in China.

What is the evidence?

We are unable to find reports of controlled clinical trials with the Coriolus versicolor mushroom itself in available peer-reviewed journals. However, there have been many studies looking at the usefulness of PSK. These studies have been done with PSK and not the mushroom.

More than 2 dozen human studies of PSK have been reviewed by experts at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Almost all of these studies were done in Japan and focused on cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, or breast. Most of them found that people with cancer were helped by PSK. People who received PSK along with other treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, generally had longer disease-free periods and increased survival rates compared with patients who got only standard treatment. Side effects from PSK in these studies were very mild. Smaller studies have suggested PSK may not be as effective against liver cancer or leukemia.

While some early Chinese studies of PSP have reportedly shown it may help protect the immune system from the effects of cancer treatment, most studies published in medical journals thus far have been in cell cultures or animals. Studies in animals have suggested that PSP may slow the growth of lung cancer and sarcoma, and may help make radiation more effective in treating certain brain tumors. One small study found that lung cancer patients taking PSP seemed to maintain their health longer than those who did not take PSP, although they did not get better and did not report improvement in cancer-related symptoms. Larger human studies will be needed to find out how effective PSP may be.

A 2005 study using mice treated with a chemical that causes colon cancer did not find any reduction in colon tumors in mice also given VPS, another extract of Coriolus versicolor. A 2006 study found that VPS may have actually increased the number of large colon tumors in mice.

†Are there any possible problems or complications?

No serious risks have been linked with the use of Coriolus versicolor or PSK. Rarely, side effects include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Even less common are darkening of the fingernails and low blood cell counts.

Relying on this type of treatment alone, and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care, may have serious health consequences.



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