The Ultimate Guide to the Therapeutics Behind Turkey Tail
One of the most treasured mushrooms on the planet is the Trametes versicolor mushroom, commonly known as the turkey tail mushroom, whose swirling array of colors and shapes resemble the tail of a wild turkey. But unlike the turkey on your Thanksgiving dinner, the mushroom variety has the potential to fight cancer, aid gut health, and improve immune system function!
Superfood & medicinal mushrooms are far from being just a modern trend. While the Western world is only just beginning to scratch the surface of the potential of medicinal mushrooms, they have been used in ancient healing for thousands of years.
Turkey Tail is found on decaying hardwood trees throughout the world. You can find Turkey Tail in every state in America and on every continent, except for Antarctica! Its prevalence has enabled people to benefit from it throughout history on every corner of the globe. If you are looking to choose just one medicinal mushroom to add to your routine, then it would be hard to do better than Turkey Tail, lets find out why!
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Throughout Asia, Turkey Tail symbolizes health and longevity, spiritual attunement, and infinity. It has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where it is known as Tun Zhi.
Practitioners of TCM value Turkey Tail as an immunomodulator that supports immune function and helps fight infections. Traditional wisdom and modern science agree: Turkey tail has the ability to bring balance to both underactive or overactive immune functions. (2)
This powerful mushroom is also said to strengthen the lungs, spleen, and stomach and bring a calm sense of energy to the mind.
Why Are Turkey Tail Mushrooms so Powerful?
Turkey Tail fungus is one of the most researched mushrooms because of its prevalence around the world, but also because its incredible properties have inspired scientists and mushroom enthusiasts alike! They are full of beneficial compounds that have undeniable medicinal properties.
This powerful fungus is full of potent natural polysaccharides, including polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide K (PSK). These protein-bound polysaccharides support immune system function and help manage the inflammatory response at the cellular level. (1)
Turkey Tail is a super-shroom. It is packed with antioxidants, including over 35 phenols and powerful flavonoids. They promote a healthy immune system by managing inflammation and stimulating the release of immune-supportive compounds.
They are also abundant in prebiotics that nourishes beneficial bacteria in the gut to help restore balance in the gastrointestinal tract, supporting improved digestion and an improved immune response.
Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits
These remarkable compounds enable the turkey tail mushroom to do some amazing things. Key benefits include:
Cancer Treatment Potential
Because the Turkey Tail mushroom has such powerful benefits to the immune system, it may help treat cancer.
Although research is still in its infancy, initial research is promising. In one review, scientists looked at five types of mushrooms, including Turkey Tail. They concluded that:
"The evidence base for using mushrooms in cancer treatment has greatly increased." (2)
These studies do not suggest that medicinal mushrooms be used as a stand-alone treatment for cancer patients. Instead, mushrooms can have the greatest benefits for people who use them alongside their prescribed treatment, such as chemotherapy.
The presence of PSP and PSK in Turkey Tail appears to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (1) While PSP also has the ability to stimulate the immune system, especially when combined with other treatments. (3)
In Japan, Turkey Tail has a long medicinal history and is often called the cloud mushroom, due to its likeness to swirling clouds. Japanese scientists have isolated the PSK compound, and it is utilized as an approved treatment for cancer. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to approve its use in the U.S.
Researchers have found that PSP may inhibit colon cancer cell growth and prevent colon cancer cells from invading healthy cells. (4) Although this study was performed in a lab and not on humans, the initial results are exciting.
A systematic review from randomized controlled trials covering 10,684 patients, PSK from Turkey Tail, was concluded to be a safe and effective supplement for people with colorectal cancer or other forms of intestinal cancer. The authors found that those who took PSK may have better survival rates, and they recommended combining supplementation with chemotherapy. (5)
In a small study with just 9 participants, patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer were given Turkey Tail extract. Researchers concluded that the extract contributed to increased levels of cancer-fighting cells in the immune system. (6)
Gut Health Benefits
Increasingly, scientists are understanding the influence of gut health on both mental and physical health. Many chronic diseases and mood disorders have connections in the gut. So by improving your gut health, you could see benefits across many aspects of your life. (7, 8)
Turkey Tail mushroom, like most mushrooms, contains fiber. Fiber is indigestible but helps maintain healthy digestion. But the compounds in Turkey Tail are particularly valuable.
Healthy Gut Bacteria
Healthy gut bacteria can help prevent disease, supports the immune system, and help keep energy levels healthy.
PSP in the Turkey Tail mushroom has prebiotic abilities that help balance gut bacteria. (9) Prebiotics feed gut bacteria and can create long-lasting improvements to your health.
Another study has also shown that PSP can balance levels of healthy bacteria in the intestine, which helps regulate the gut microbiome. (10)
Yet another component of Turkey Tail that hasn't yet been mentioned may also have powerful medicinal properties. Protein-bound beta-glucan (PBG) could help prevent obesity by balancing certain bacteria in the gut. (11) So far, research is limited to animal studies, and more research is needed.
Packed With Antioxidants
Turkey Tail mushrooms contain antioxidants that help reduce damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of antioxidants and unstable molecules known as free radicles. This causes cellular damage and chronic inflammation. (12)
This imbalance has been linked to an increased risk of health conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers. Luckily, supplementing with these miraculous compounds or eating food rich in antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Turkey Tail mushrooms contain an abundance of antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenols. (13). One study found over 35 different phenolic compounds, as well as the flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein, which promote immune system health and reduce inflammation. (14)
Other Potential Benefits
There are some other potential benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms that have limited research. However, initial studies have shown promising results. More research is needed, but we may be using the Turkey Tail Mushroom for a broader range of ailments in the future.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
Perhaps one day, we will use Turkey Tail to help people with diabetes. In one study, Turkey Tail significantly reduced blood sugar in diabetic rats and improved their insulin resistance. (15)
This is also good news for people without diabetes. Balanced blood sugar helps keep our brain healthy, our mood balanced, and our energy levels stable.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. In one study, 88% of participants who received treatment with Turkey Tail experienced positive results, such as clearance of HPV, compared to just 5% of the group who received a placebo. (16)
In a test-tube study, Turkey Tail inhibited the growth of certain bacterias that can cause illness and infection, both Salmonella enterica and Staphylococcus aureus. (17)
Improved Athletic Performance
A study performed on mice showed improved exercise performance and reduced fatigue, as well as lower blood sugar levels post-exercise. (18)
Improvements in the gut microbiome can also help us to absorb more nutrients from the food that we eat, which in turn helps exercise recovery.
Turkey Tail Mushroom Dosage?
The recommended dosage of Turkey Tail mushrooms is 2,000 milligrams (or two grams per day). Two grams per day provides optimum levels of beneficial compounds to help keep your immune system healthy.
Incorporate Turkey Tail Mushrooms into Your Routine
Like all mushrooms, to truly experience all of the incredible benefits, it is a good idea to take it daily. Turkey Tail has a mild earthy flavor and a leathery texture. In many cultures, it is added to soups and teas to help support the immune system and overall health and wellness.
Turkey Tail Mushroom Powder Extract is easy to mix into a desert, smoothie, hot tea, soup, or bone broth. Or, if you are looking for a blend of the best mushrooms, then our 8 Mushroom Cacao Mix will provide you with eight marvelous mushrooms in a yummy chocolatey powder. Simply add hot water or add it to baked goods or smoothies!