Turkey tail mushroom (Kawaratake) is one of those multicolored mushrooms that grow almost everywhere on the bark of trees in many countries around the world. Surely you have seen it, and as children you may have even played, digging with a stick in it out of curiosity.
However, the interesting discovery can only be seen with a microscope. It is a large molecule with very strong anti-cancer properties.
What is Kawaratake?
Kawaratake is the Japanese name for Trametes versicolor, also known as Coriolus versicolor. It is a wood fungus that grows widely in Europe and the rest of the world. In most countries, the fungus is most often called Coriolus.
The Latin word “versicolor” means “multicolored”, which suggests that Kawaratake is found in a variety of colors and blooms, some of which actually make the mushroom uniquely beautiful.
What do we need to know about the active ingredients of Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Kawaratake)?
An ingredient to which Kawaratake owes its fame is called by the trade name polysaccharide Krestin, abbreviated polysaccharide-K or abbreviated “PSK”, and the abbreviation comes from polysaccharopeptide Krestin (in some places it is spelled polysaccharide Kureha).
The active molecule, which I will briefly call Krestin, is a proteoglycan, a complex molecule made up of amino acids and monosaccharides. The large amount of Krestin contained in Coriolus mushrooms, as well as their easy cultivation, make it a preferred raw material for the extraction of valuable ingredients.
What is it used for and what are its health benefits for Krestin?
The results of numerous studies conducted on the action of Krestin give it the properties of a powerful immunomodulator and stimulator of various immune functions. In traditional Chinese medicine, the Kawaratake mushroom is picked, dried, ground, and used as tea.
The hot drink in question is given liver-prophylactic properties, it is claimed that it has a beneficial effect on lung inflammation, as well as that it has a general stimulating effect on the health of the body and mind. In traditional Japanese medicine, Coriolus extract is best known as a means of preventing gastrointestinal tract as well as colon cancer.
Modern medicine has a different view of Krestin and other biological response modifiers (BRM – functional group of molecules) contained in Kawaratake.
Proven benefits of taking Kawaratake extract and especially Krestin
Anti-cancer effect against carcinogenesis
I will start with the fact that, according to studies conducted with animals exposed to harmful chemicals, Krestin protects organisms from the formation of cancer tissue or significantly slows its development.
In the treatment of cancer, polysaccharide-K has the gold medal. It is used in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a number of cancers, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, leukemia, and more.
It is believed that, in addition to immunomodulatory and immunostimulatory anti-cancer abilities, Krestin itself can attack tumor cells, as well as virtually reduce and even stop scattering after surgical removal.
Immune modulator, immune stimulator
Several studies conducted on mice with normal and artificially suppressed immunity show that the Krestin intake actually protects them from infection with certain types of viruses and bacteria.
In healthy people, Krestin is thought to improve the ability of immune cells to fight infections. When used therapeutically in cancer patients, polysaccharide-K also affects indirect immunity and, in particular, the production of specific marker proteins that bind to cell membranes or virus capsules to tell immune cells that there is an intruder to be deactivated.
Assumptions and unproven claims
Krestin may have an antioxidant effect by improving the activity of the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase, whose role is to protect tissues from the destructive effects of free radicals.
Krestin protects immune cells between the walls of blood vessels from free radicals and thus prevents the attraction of “bad” LDL cholesterol to them. This partially reduces the blockage of the arteries by calcium-cholesterol plaques.
Are there any known side effects and contraindications to taking Kawaratake?
Experiments with Kawaratake extract and isolated Krestin did not show any serious side effects. The side effects are cough, nail pigmentation, constipation, or diarrhea.
The tablet form is better tolerated than the powder form. According to the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare, the chance of side effects is estimated at 1.01% after analyzing the treatment of 11,300 cancer patients. In general, Kawaratake extract and Krestin are considered generally safe products.
In combination with what we shouldn’t take Kawaratake?
There are no data on drug interactions. There are no studies on the effect of Kawaratake extract or isolated Krestin on nursing mothers, pregnant women, and children.
Doses and consumption
Although it has the status of a food supplement, the intake of Kawaratake extract should be consulted with the attending physician or immunologist. In Japan, the recommended dose for the treatment of cancer is between 3 to 6 grams of standardized polysaccharide-K per day.
The dose prescribed for the prevention of the immune system in people with immune depression, and chronic viral diseases (eg: hepatitis, AIDS, herpes, etc.) is 3 g/day.
In which health supplements can we find it?
Kawaratake extract (Coriolus Versicolor) is sold alone, in combination with other immunomodulators such as Shiitake, and Reishi. Purified polysaccharide-Krestin can be found in the formulas of various immunoprophylactic drugs for the treatment of cancer.
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