This health video looks into the benefits of using mushrooms in medicine.
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Jennifer Matthews: Something in our forests could be the newest treatment for cancer. It grows here in the Pacific Northwest and in many parts of Asia, but you probably won't see it. Dr. Jeff Novack: As far as finding it growing, it is going to be pretty rare to find that. Jennifer Matthews: It's called the Turkey Tail Mushroom named for its resemblance to the bird. A new study at Seattle's Bastyr University looks at whether this mushroom has the power to treat or even prevent cancer. Dr. Cynthia Wenner: One of the reasons that we picked it is that the preliminary data shows very encouraging evidence that it has very strong effects against cancer cells. Jennifer Matthews: The Turkey Tail is already used to treat cancer in Asia. Researchers here in the U.S. will specifically look at how breast and prostate cancers respond to the mushroom. Since it is a fungus, our immune system naturally fights it off. But it may produce a strong enough reaction to also kill cancer. Dr. Cynthia Wenner: It is actually tricking your body in a way to respond to the fungus, but the fungus also -- the mushroom is also targeting the cancer cells for the immune cells to fight them off as well. Jennifer Matthews: Researchers are using an extract of the mushroom for their study. They warned; don't go reaching for a bowl of Turkey Tail yourself, the mushroom is too tough to eat. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.