It’s 2011 researchers in Canberra declare PSP, an extract from Turkey Tail Mushrooms, 100% effective at suppressing prostate cancer stem cells in mice. Many researchers and doctors currently believed cancer stem cells are responsible for prostate cancer’s initiation and growth. PSP stands for polysaccharopeptide. Researchers further concluded that dose dependent PSP was effective at suppressing cancer formation and an agent for preventing cancer. Additional studies have found with the inclusion of gamma-tocotrienol, a component of Vitamin-E, healing results are further enhanced. Gamma-tocotrienol appears to work synergistically with PSP by sensitizing the cancer cells to allow a faster action of PSP. This has led to a reduction of cancer colonies by as much as 85% over a short time. Now realize this work was completed on mice, though certainly it brings the question as to why there is no immediate follow-up for human U.S. trials especially considering for decades PSP and PSK have been official government approved healing drugs in Japan and China for decades.
Researchers have been looking at turkey tail and gamma-tocotrienol for many years due to their unique properties. The turkey tail mushroom, also known as Yun Zhi in traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Trametes Versicolor, Coriolus Versicolor, Polyporus Versicolor, and Kwaratake in Japanese medicine has been used throughout Asia for hundreds of years in soups to boost health and treat serious illness. Derivatives from turkey tail mushrooms have exhibited immune system enhancement, antimicrobial, antiviral and mutative cell inhibiting qualities. The two most studied components of turkey tail are PSK and PSP. PSK is a polysaccharide and PSP is a polysaccharide-peptide.
Both PSK and PSP are known to boost immune cell production, improve traditional cancer treatments, and relieve symptoms from chemotherapy. Sold commercially as Krestin in Japan, PSK has been used as a government ‘approved cancer drug’ since 1977. When used along with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation it has shown significant improvement in overall results. Not only does PSK have excellent antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties, it also inhibits cancer’s spread by reducing adhesion, motility and cancer cell attachment to blood vessels. Reports have further shown the restoration of depressed immune systems and enhanced activity of natural killer cells, T-cells, macrophages and peripheral blood lymphocytes. As an example, in one 1997 study, when PSK was used in conjunction with chemotherapy to treat breast cancer patients, 5 and 10-year survival rates were 100% for PSK treated patients and only 76% and 55% respectively for those treated with chemotherapy alone. These are exciting results, and breast cancer has many similar characteristics to prostate cancer. PSK supplemental treatment appears to be received well with only a few patients experiencing gastrointestinal upset or some darkening of the fingernails. Research has shown that ingesting PSK in as much as 9 grams per day in Japan is considered safe. As a bonus it does not appear to reduce activity of chemotherapy drugs nor cause genetic damage while enhancing the healing process.
PSP, a Chinese developed medicine, was ‘approved as an official cancer medicine’ by the Chinese government in 1992/1993. PSP is believed to be more effective than PSK due to the bonding of a peptide during the extraction process. This allows for easier and more complete absorption by the body. It’s believed PSP passes through the intestine and bonds to glucose receptors on lymphocyte macrophages, NK cells and T-cells. This causes these cells to create disease resistant chemicals like interferon, interleukins, prostaglandin and other mutation resistant factors. It also has been shown to stabilize white blood cell count and improve the overall quality of life for cancer patients. Prostate cancer cells thrive on glucose, so they also tend to suck up the PSP. Research has shown when PSP enters cancer cells it down regulates prostate cancer stem cells. Since these are a foundational factor to cancer’s initiation and progression, targeting these cancer stem cells is of prime importance.
It is also believed that approved conventional therapies do little to target cancer stem cells, leaving new cancer to grow after initial treatment. In addition to targeting cancer stem cells, PSP suppressed the ability of cancer cells to form prostaspheres and inhibited their tumorgenicity. This puts a halt to the self-renewal and growth process of cancer.
Both PSK and PSP from turkey tail resemble each other but are structurally different. PSK comes from a CM-101 strain of turkey tail with extraction completed using hot water and then a salting out with ammonium sulfate. PSP originates from a Cov-1 strain of turkey tail using hot water extraction and then an alcohol precipitation process. Chemically they are similar, though PSK contains fucose and PSP contains rhamnose and arabinose.
Now let’s add Gamma or Delta Tocotrienols into the mix. These come from Vitamin-E. There are four tocopherols and four tocotrienols in Vitamin-E, each divided into four components labeled Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma. Both tocopherol and tocotrienol molecules are similar shaped but the tocotrienols have smaller heads, shorter tails and a higher electron density. This makes them incredibly more effective and faster at bonding with cell membranes. In addition researchers have found tocotrienols to be 40 to 60 times more effective as antioxidants than tocopherols. Natural sources for varying amounts of tocotrienol and tocopherol include rye, amaranth, barley, rice bran, ancient wheat, palm fruit, annatto, walnuts, hazelnuts, poppy, safflower, maize, and the seeds of flax, grape, and pumpkin. The three sources most used for supplements are rice bran, palm fruit and annatto. Rice and palm have approximately 25% and 50% tocotrienols respectively with a lot of tocopherols. Only annatto provides a high source of tocotrienols without the tocopherols. Annatto is approximately 90% delta-tocotrienol and 10% gamma-tocotrienol. So why is this important?
Studies have shown tocopherol found abundantly in most Vitamin-E products may interfere with the healing activity to tocotrienol. It’s like one component is racing around to treat your cancer while the other is putting on the brakes. During a University of Wisconsin study, researchers looking at the ability of combined tocotrienol and tocopherol to reduce cholesterol found a general 10% to 22% improvement. But when they put a non-responsive group of subjects on only delta and gamma tocotrienols after just 4 weeks they witnessed a 35% to 40% drop in their cholesterol. From their research they determined delta- and gamma-tocotrienols exhibited the highest health benefits of all the eight forms of Vitamin-E. Further research has gone on to support similar findings leading to the suggestion to not take supplements with tocopherols within six hours of supplementing with high tocotrienols. This suggestion can be extremely difficult, as most supplement manufacturers love to combine all tocopherols and tocotrienols in one gel cap. Another source suggested taking multi-vitamins with mixed component Vitamin-E in the morning, and high source tocotrienols in the evening with dinner, so they peak in the blood about the same time cholesterol production peaks.
Then there is the problem with ‘Synthetic’ Alpha Tocopherol also on the market. Vitamin-E actually received a bad report not too long ago when a study found synthetic alpha tocopherol may increase prostate cancer, and the results were generalized to Vitamin-E. The problem was, most medical professionals didn’t take into account the difference between synthetic and natural products, and the fact that synthetic alpha tocopherol was used in the study without gamma tocopherol to compensate. With all this said, the main point to remember is that natural delta- and gamma-tocotrienols are believed to be the most effective components of Vitamin-E when used to treat cancer.
As a cancer killer, delta- and gamma-tocotrienols have showed interesting results. One of their greatest benefits is the ability to provide a multi-targeted approach. Some believe cancer cells are created because of the malfunction of numerous genes and signaling pathways. This is why drugs, designed to only interact with a single gene of pathway like docetaxel, eventually fail. Though the designer drug may address one small issue, the cancer is left with multiple workarounds. Tocotrienols on the other hand have been found to be multi-interactive. They target the COX2, EGFR, TNK, HER2, bct-abl and VEGF pathways along with inhibiting transcription factors, enzymes, growth factors, receptors, kinases and anti-apoptotic proteins. One of the more interesting ways that tocotrienols stop cancer is through an anti-angiogenesis process. Tumor cells need abundant nutrition for all their growth. Through angiogenesis they create more blood vessels to supply their food. Tocotrienols are believed to slow, even stop this process, thereby putting cancer on a starvation diet while preventing further growth.
Then there’s the unique ability gamma-tocotrienol has to down regulate, essentially kill, cancer stem cells (CSC’s). Studies have shown a limited number of cancer stem cells exist within many cancer colonies. They are considered to be the leaders, or the ones in charge. These cells are tenacious, with excellent survival and tumor initiating characteristics. In fact they are so tough that radiation and chemotherapy often leave them behind to development new cancer years after initial treatment. Gamma-tocotrienol has been found to effectively deal with these cancer stem cells, and when paired with other forms of chemotherapy act as a chemo-sensitizing agent for further cancer stem cell destruction.
Bottom line, tocotrienols work on cancer at a multitude of different levels to induce cancer’s demise. Long-term consumption of tocotrienols has been linked to reduce risks of prostate, skin, and breast cancer, with delta- and gamma-tocotrienols having the best results. For a healthy person, a preventative dose of 50mg to 100mg per day has been suggested. For those with cancer some suggest 300mg to 400mg per day though there are no confirming studies. When deciding on which source of tocotrienols to take there are a few important considerations. Most important, the good effects of tocotrienols are reduced by the more tocopherols come with it. So learn to read labels for the highest source of tocotrienols and the lowest amount of tocopherols. If tocopherols are more than 50% of the ingredients, the product may not be right for you. Second, only purchase natural sourced products. There were some ‘synthetic’ alpha-tocopherols used in a clinical trial that severely depleted gamma-tocopherol and caused DNA damage resulting in cancer from reactive nitrogen. This is started an anti alpha-tocopherol and Vitamin-E movement. Much of this research has been questioned.
You may be wondering with the extensive history of positive results and research studies regarding the use of turkey tail and tocotrienols to treat disease and cancer, why the U.S. is not all over researching the benefits of PSP, PSK and gamma-tocotrienol. Could it be the FDA believes humans in Japan and China, having government approved cancer-healing benefits from PSK and PSP over 38 and 22 years respectively, are fundamentally different from humans in the U.S.? More likely, it is because the U.S. is a wealth-reward driven society and there’s no money in it. PSP, PSK and tocotrienol are not newly patentable, cheep to produce, so there’s no money for the massive double blind studies the FDA requires regarding treatment approval. They are widely used already as natural healing substances, even as doctor delivered medicines outside the U.S. Then too, the FDA is not in the business of finding cures for cancer, their job is to regulate, approve or reject U.S. research. And there’s the issue, finding a natural inexpensive cure for cancer would put so many people including doctors out of work, and businesses out of existence.
In 2012 the FDA did approve a $5.4 million Trial of Turkey Tail Mushroom by Bastyr University together with the University of Washington and others, for advanced prostate cancer in conjunction with chemotherapy. I understand the product to be tested was a hot water and alcohol extraction of turkey tail from Host Defense. The Trial was to begin in 2013. Last I heard this Trial was cancelled due to lack of participants, puzzling considering there are over 220,800 new U.S. cases of prostate cancer each year, and over 27,500 Americans who annually die of this terrible disease. Or could it be a reflection on the general medical community’s resistance to change, or their lack of knowledge concerning the benefit of alternative treatments beyond their specialty? Did you know one in four Cancer Trials fails to enroll enough participants? And that cancer patients who participate in Clinical Trials experience better outcomes than patients who do not.
Clinical Trials occur all the time, but when was the last time as a cancer patient you heard about a Trial from your doctor? Many doctors rarely follow-up on postings that come across their desks for Clinical Trials, they are already swamped and overworked with patients. Often doctors are little aware of a Trial’s existence, unless the Trial is directly related to their specialized field. Most likely you will need to seek out these beneficial Trials on your own, or maybe you will happen to see a sheet of information about a Clinical Trial posted on a bulletin board in some obscure location such as the restroom. Public lack of Clinical Trial information is a travesty, and clearly another contributing factor hampering the cure for cancer. We could be doing such a better job posting Clinical Trial information, and doctors could easily provide more information and support for their clients. Then again, with all the research and results from China and Japan on PSK and PSP, why are we still trying reconfirm a wheel is round? What greater volume of tests do we need to accept a treatment protocols with decades of stellar results, already proven and working extending human life elsewhere on our planet?
All this brings into question our medical approval system, and how desperately we deserve a new medical approval process, or at the very least a truly non-biased funded non-profit research group dedicated to thoroughly exploring all the non-patentable/orphan, minimal cost, cancer cure options available from here and around the world.
Should this article inspire you to look for PSK or PSP on your own, be careful, as what you see on a general internet search may not provide the results you seek. Many mushroom products available online, including some labeled as turkey tail, PSK, or PSP, are merely a form of ground up dried mushrooms. Regarding these, what you need to know is, mushrooms naturally grow with a cell wall made of chitin. This is an exoskeleton, much like a crab or lobster, to support the thin walls of the mushroom. This chitin is indigestible, so eating mushrooms not properly processed will only provide fiber and basic nutrients with little of the desired medical benefit. Hot water and secondary extraction is the only proven method to break down this chitin releasing the desired polysaccharide structurally intact. Therefore when seeking PSK or PSP, be sure it is a properly processed bio-available product using a multi-step process including hot water extraction.
A few places where you will want to start your search are Half Hill Farm in Tennessee, Host Defense in Olympia, Washington, or contact Wonder Herb Products Ltd for their representative closest to your area. By the way, Wonder Herb Products Ltd is the supplier of PSP used in the Canberra Studies. Wonder Herb also states they have a higher verified activity level than some other sources. To date, the best source of tocotrienol I have discovered is made from the annatto plant found in South America. For around 150 years the seeds of this plant were used to make food coloring. Then in the late 1990’s, high amounts of near pure tocotrienols were discovered from the seeds. It is from this plant that DeltaGold® Tocotrienol is produced and currently sold through multiple distributors. Unfortunately there is not a good source of naturally pure gamma-tocotrienol, as yet. More research needs to be completed with additional sources and better processing. For now, DeltaGold® appears to be the best combination of gamma- and delta-tocotrienol available due to its lack of tocopherols. As always, you will want to talk with your doctor about dosage and supervision during PSP, PSK and tocotrienol use.
There is still more information to come on Potential New Natural Cancer Treatments. Keep an eye out for the next article in this series to arrive soon.