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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Chin-Lee

Turkey tail, reishi, and tea oh my!

Alice in Wonderland meets a hookah smoking caterpillar
Medicinal mushrooms

My acquaintance and fellow breast cancer thriver, Vanessa W. asked me about medicinal mushrooms. I drink green tea and take medicinal mushrooms as part of my non-invasive cancer therapy. My integrative oncologist, Donald Abrams, at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) says he drinks 4 cups of green tea daily; I’m drinking about 2 cups a day. Green tea has epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC), about 13 times more antioxidants than blueberries and pomegranates. Studies show that green tea is good for cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke, and cancers such as endometrial, esophageal, lung, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, oral, and ovarian cancer. Currently the literature is not conclusive on green tea and gastric, liver, or breast cancer (which is the cancer type I have). [1]

If you’re sensitive to caffeine, like I am, remember to drink green tea in the morning. Green tea has less caffeine than coffee, but I once made the mistake of drinking green tea at 5 in the afternoon and it kept me up all night. Because I really like to sleep, I tried taking some marijuana tincture drops that a friend had given me. Unfortunately, I took too many drops because there was no dosage on the bottle and I forgot what my friend had recommended. Wow. I haven’t had such intense pain and hallucinations like that in my entire life. I checked my cell phone on whether you can overdose on marijuana. Ha! You can’t but I’ll never do that again. I realize how easy it is to accidentally overdose on something now.

Dr. Abrams studied with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and edited the book Integrative Oncology, which I read with a dictionary by my side! In addition to green tea, Dr. Abrams suggested I take these medicinal mushrooms:

  • Reishi

  • Turkey Tail

  • Combination of mushrooms (Stamets 7)

He recommended that I take them in a certain way. I take one type of mushroom daily for 4 to 6 weeks, then switch to the next. After a month of daily reishi mushroom extract, I have a month of daily turkey tail extract. The third month I take the Stamets 7, available in capsules or powder, which is less pricey.

My husband bought the reishi and turkey tail mushroom extracts for me at, an economical way to get them. I take about a half teaspoon of the mushroom in my tea or coffee. Does it work? An analysis in 2007 of over 8,000 patients in 8 randomized trials showed that polysaccharide-K (the active ingredient in turkey tail also known as PSK) improved the survival rate of gastric cancer patients. PSK or krestin is an approved cancer treatment in Japan and has been used with thousands of patients since the mid-1970s. [2]

In a study in Japan reishi (G. lucidum mycelia) was given to patients with colorectal adenomas (a tumor that is not cancer) and the number of tumors and the size of the tumors decreased in the group which received reishi. [2] Although I don’t know of studies on turkey tail or reishi mushrooms on breast cancer, I’m happy to take these medicinal mushrooms in hopes the active ingredients also works to heal my cancer.

Stamets 7 has the following medicinal mushrooms:

  • Royal sun blazei

  • Cordyceps

  • Reishi

  • Maitake

  • Lion’s Mane

  • Chaga

  • Mesima

If you want to learn more about medicinal mushrooms, watch the 2019 documentary Fantastic Fungi, which features Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti. Not only do medicinal mushrooms help heal cancer, but also eating common button mushroom may have positive effects. Asian studies have shown that by eating the common button mushroom, you can reduced your risk of cancer. I eat generous amounts of portabellos, button, shiitake, bellas, and oyster mushrooms. In fact, one of my new favorite recipes is king oyster mushrooms cooked as vegan scallops. Yummy!

Note: I don’t endorse nor do I receive any benefit from mentioning any company’s web site. Links are provided for your convenience.


[1] Abe SK, Inoue M. Green tea and cancer and cardiometabolic diseases: a review of the current epidemiological evidence. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2021 Jun;75(6):865-876. doi: 10.1038/s41430-020-00710-7. Epub 2020 Aug 20. PMID: 32820240; PMCID: PMC8189915.

[2] PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®): Health Professional Version. 2022 Jun 7. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002–. PMID: 27929633.

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