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In China Coriolus versicolor is known as "Yunzhi", or the "cloud mushroom". In traditional herbalism hot water extracts of Coriolus were used to dispel dampness, reduce phlegm, treat pulmonary infections, and to support liver health. 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."


Complementary therapy for cancers


The coriolus versicolor mushroom has shown antimicrobial, antiviral and antitumor properties, which have been attributed to a protein-bound polysaccharide called Polysaccharide K (PSK), also known as Krestin. In Japan , PSK is currently used as a cancer treatment, in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.


Colon Cancer- Coriolus Alone


Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial - 110 Patients After Curative Surgery for Colorectal Cancer - 10-Year Study

This study found that when compared with the control group, the leukocyte activity of the PSK group showed "remarkable enhancement." It was concluded that "the beneficial effects of Coriolus were probably due to the activation of leukocyte functions as one of the many biological-response-modifying activities induced by PSK."

In this study the increase in survival rate and disease free period after oral administration of Coriolus was found to be "statistically significant" when both rates were doubled over those of the control group.


Lung Cancer - Coriolus as Complemetary Therapy after Radiotherapy


185 Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages I-III - 10-Year Study

The use of Coriolus as immunotherapy in combination with radiotherapy was examined based on the recognized ability of PSK to "inhibit disorders of cellular immunity attributed to anti-cancer drugs, and in doing so to counteract the adverse effects of these drugs.

The five year survival rate of the patients (who received Coriolus) with stages I or II disease, as well as stage III was 39% and 22% respectively, compared with the non-administered (no Coriolus) group's 16% and 5%. These differences are statistically significant.


Breast Cancer - Coriolus as Complementary Therapy with Chemotherapy


Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial - 227 Patients with Operable Breast Cancer Immuno-chemotherapy vs Chemotherapy - 10-Year Study

The use of Coriolus together with chemotherapy was explored with results indicating that PSK protects "against the suppression of immuno-activity which is caused by the administration of anti-cancer drugs," by "stimulation of the immuno-activity of the host."

In this study the survival rate of the group that took Coriolus with chemotherapy was 81.1% after 10 years. The survival rate of the group that used chemotherapy alone was 64.5%. The study concluded that Immuno-chemotherapy with Cloriolus improved the prognosis of patients with operable breast cancer with vascular invasion."


Gastric Cancer - Coriolus as Complementary Therapy with Chemotherapy


Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial - 262 Patients after Curative Gastrectomy Immuno-chemotherapy vs Chemotherapy - 5 Year Study

The benefit to the immune system of combining Coriolus with chemotherapy was attributed to "a restorative effect in patients who have been immuno-suppressed by both recent surgery and subsequent chemotherapy."

In this study, published in Lancet, the survival rate of the group that took Cloriolus with chemotherapy was 73% after 5 years. The survival rate of the group that used chemotherapy alone was 60%. The study concluded that combining Cloriolus with chemotherapy was "beneficial for preventing recurrence of cancer and in prolonging survival for patients who have undergone curative gastrectomy."


Acute Leukemia - Coriolus as Complementary Therapy with Chemotherapy


Control Group Study - 28 Patients - Immuno-chemotherapy vs Chemotherapy

This study found that "the durations of complete remission and survival in the chemo-immunotherapy group showed significant prolongation compared to that of the chemotherapy group." This study also indicates that Coriolus enhances depressed immune systems without abnormal stimulation to immune cancers.

  1. 1. Torisu, M., et al. (1990). Significant prolongation of disease-free period gained by oral polysaccharide K (PSK) administration after curative surgical operation of colorectal cancer. Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy 31(5), 261-268.
  2. Hayakawa, K., et al. (1993). Effect of Krestin (PSK) as Adjuvant Treatment on the Prognosis after Radical Radiotherapy in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Anticancer Research 13, 1815-1820.
  3. Ilino, Y., et al. (1995). Immunochemotherapies vs. Chemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Operable Breast Cancer. Anticancer Research 15, 2907-2912
  4. Nakazato, H., et al. (1994). Efficacy of Immunochemotherapy as Adjuvant Treatment after Curative Resection of Gastric Cancer. Lancet 343, 1122-1126.
  5. Sakagami, H. and Takeda M. (1993). Diverse Biological Activity of PSK (KRESTIN), A Protein-Bound Polysaccharide from Coriolus versicolor (Fr.) Quel. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Mushroom Biology and Mushroom products, August 23-26, 1993, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. Chang, S.-T. et al. (eds.). Shatin, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press: 237-245.
  6. Ikusawa, M., et al. (1988). Fate and Distribution of an Antitumor Protein-Bound Polysaccharide PSK (KRESTIN). International Journal of Immunopharmacology 10(4), 415-423.
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