"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: Which Anti-Cancer Botanical Extracts Are Most Effective? Part One

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Which Anti-Cancer Botanical Extracts Are Most Effective? Part One

Coriolus versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom


One of the hardest questions to answer is which, out of the many supplements really benefits cancer patients? There are many self-interested statements of benefit, but an inadequate amount of objective research on what is effective and what is not.

I therefore want to call your attention to an interesting article from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). It compared the following seven botanical extracts and fractions:

(1) H-48 (a Chinese mixture of herbs)

(2) Coriolus vesicolor,  or its derivatives: purified polysaccharide-K (PSK) or purified polysaccharide-peptide (PSP)

(3) Maitake mushroom extract

(4) Echinacea

(5) Astragalus root

(6) The yellow spice turmeric; and

(7) β-glucan derived from yeast.

All of these are popular supplements used by cancer patients. The MSKCC authors looked at the ability of these substances to induce immune reactions in laboratory mice. Specifics on these products, and how they were tested, are given in the reference below. (The full paper is available for free, and readers should consult that text for details).

The bottom line of the study was this:

Consistently significant activity was seen with four of the preparations:

(1) Coriolus mushroom extracts (especially PSK);

(2) Alcohol extract of astragalus;

(3) yeast β-glucan; and (to a lesser extent)

(4) Maitake mushrooms.

Little or no adjuvant activity was demonstrated with H48, Echinacea extracts or a water-based extract of astragalus. The results with turmeric were mixed (but the New Chapter brand of turmeric was active.)



Coriolus versicolor (also called Trametes versicolor or Turkey tail mushroom) is available from a number of sources. I will have more to say about Astragalus in a future blog entry.

References and Resources:


Ragupathi G, Hood C, Yeung KS, et al. Evaluation of Widely Consumed Botanicals as Immunological Adjuvants. Vaccine. 2008;26(37):4860-4865.  (To see the article go to PubMed.)