Turkey tail mushroom, also known as Trametes versicolor, is a type of mushroom known for its various health benefits. This incredible fungus is gaining popularity for its potential to boost immune function and improve overall well-being.
If this functional mushroom has piqued your interest, you’re in luck! We’re going to take a deep dive into Turkey Tail mushroom benefits, side effects, usage, and more.
Let’s start from the top:
Table of Contents
Turkey tail mushroom is a potent fungus known for its immune-boosting properties.
It contains antioxidants, supports digestive health, and may have cancer-fighting potential.
While generally safe, individuals should be cautious about allergies and consult their healthcare provider, especially if on medications.
What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?
Turkey tail mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries due to its potent medicinal properties. This mushroom, with its distinct turkey tail-like appearance, contains a variety of bioactive compounds that contribute to its health benefits.
More specifically, Turkey Tail is a rich source of mushroom polysaccharides, antioxidants, beta-glucan, sterols, fatty acids, and phenolic compounds. While modern research has helped us understand how some of these compounds come into play for managing specific health ailments, it’s also worth reviewing traditional uses for the medicinal mushroom.
Traditional Uses for Turkey Tail Mushroom
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), turkey tail mushroom, known as Yun Zhi or Cloud Mushroom, has been utilized for centuries for its potential health benefits. Here are some traditional uses of turkey tail mushroom in TCM:
- Immune System Support: Turkey tail mushroom is believed to enhance and balance the body's immune system. It's often used to strengthen Wei Qi, the protective energy or immune defense in TCM, helping the body resist external pathogens.
- Tonifying Qi and Yin: TCM suggests that turkey tail mushroom helps tonify Qi (vital energy) and Yin (nourishing, cooling aspect of the body). This may aid in replenishing energy levels and nourishing bodily fluids.
- Respiratory Health: Yun Zhi is commonly used to support respiratory health by moistening the lungs and resolving phlegm. It's often used in formulas to assist individuals with respiratory conditions and to soothe coughs.
- Digestive Harmony: TCM believes that turkey tail mushroom can benefit the digestive system by promoting digestive harmony and aiding in the assimilation of nutrients.
- Liver and Kidney Support: Yun Zhi is thought to have a beneficial effect on the liver and kidneys, helping to tonify these organs and maintain their proper functions.
- Cancer Support: In TCM, turkey tail mushroom is often used as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of cancer. It is believed to help strengthen the body and support overall well-being during conventional cancer treatments.
- Longevity and Anti-Aging: Some TCM practitioners use turkey tail mushroom to promote longevity and slow down the aging process due to its believed tonifying and balancing properties.
It's important to note that while turkey tail mushroom has a long history of use in traditional medicine, scientific research is ongoing to understand and validate these traditional uses and potential health benefits.
Let’s take a look at the existing research-backed benefits:
Modern Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits (Backed by Research)
Regulating Immune Response
Turkey tail mushroom is an incredible mushroom containing Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptides (PSP), compounds known for boosting the immune system, helping the body fight infections, cancer, and other illnesses.
Research has shown that PSPs stimulate immune cell production, aiding in the fight against infections. Similarly, PSK supports the immune system by activating natural killer cells, reducing inflammation, and aiding the body's immune response.
Supporting Cancer Treatment
In Japan, turkey tail extracts have been used alongside traditional cancer treatments. Combining turkey tail with chemotherapy or radiation therapy has shown promise in improving treatment effectiveness and overall outcomes.
Studies have demonstrated that cancer patients receiving turkey tail alongside standard treatments lived longer than those undergoing chemotherapy alone. This was especially true for breast, gastric, and colorectal cancer patients.
Furthermore, studies suggest that turkey tail extracts inhibit cancer cell growth and enhance immune function in individuals with certain cancers.
Nurturing Gut Health
Turkey tail mushroom has shown potential in promoting gut health by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria, which are essential for healthy digestion. It works as a prebiotic, stimulating the development of 'good' bacteria in the gut. A balanced gut is linked to improved digestive health, a strong immune system, and a lower risk of stomach problems.
In a small study, participants receiving a daily dose of turkey tail PSP extract experienced an increase in beneficial bacteria and a decrease in harmful bacteria, showing the mushroom's positive impact on gut health.
Potential Athletic Performance Boost
Early research suggests that turkey tail may positively impact athletic performance by enhancing stamina and fighting fatigue, potentially improving endurance and strength.
In an animal study, turkey tail extract increased endurance and strength in mice while reducing physical fatigue and maintaining blood sugar levels. However, further research involving human trials is needed to confirm these benefits for athletes.
Apart from the mentioned benefits, turkey tail mushroom may have potential benefits in various areas:
- Bone Health: Preliminary evidence suggests that turkey tail extract may lead to stronger bones, potentially protecting against bone loss linked to certain cancer treatments.
- Cognitive Function: Rich in antioxidants, turkey tail may help improve memory and problem-solving skills, reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Healthy Aging: The antioxidants and immune-boosting properties of turkey tail may aid in healthy aging, protecting against inflammation and age-related diseases.
- Balanced Blood Sugar Levels: Studies in animals suggest that turkey tail extracts may assist in reducing blood sugar levels and improving insulin resistance, which is beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
It's important to note that while these potential benefits are promising, more research and human trials are necessary to establish turkey tail mushroom's effectiveness and safety in various health aspects.
Potential Turkey Tail Mushroom Side Effects
Turkey Tail mushrooms contain fiber that may be upsetting for some people’s digestive systems. Symptoms like upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, or gas could be a sign of an allergic reaction, but it could also mean you’ve taken too much Turkey Tail and should reduce your dosage.
Some individuals may have an allergic reaction to turkey tail mushrooms. Consult a doctor if you experience any of the following allergy symptoms:
- Swelling of the lips, mouth, and airways
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin rashes or hives
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramping
- Loose stools
Interaction with Medications
If you are on medications or have an underlying medical condition, it's essential to consult your healthcare provider before adding turkey tail mushroom to your routine. This mushroom may interact with certain medications, especially:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Thyroid medications
- Blood pressure medications
- Diabetes medications
How to Use Turkey Tail Mushroom
Using the Whole Mushroom in Your Diet
- Tea: Making a turkey tail mushroom tea is a popular way to enjoy its benefits. Simply steep dried turkey tail mushroom in hot water, strain, and sip throughout the day.
- Add it to Soups or Stews: Turkey tail mushroom can be added to soups or stews, providing both flavor and health benefits. It blends well with various ingredients and enhances the nutritional value of your meal.
Using Turkey Tail Supplements
If you want to take advantage of all of the benefits that Turkey Tail has to offer, you may opt for turkey tail mushroom supplements. These are available in capsule or powder form.
Mushroom supplements made from Turkey Tail extract will contain a higher concentration of bioactive compounds than whole mushroom or whole mushroom powder products. Plus, extract products are highly bioavailable, whereas whole mushroom products are more difficult to digest and much of the bioactive concentration is lost to digestion. Read “Whole Mushroom Powder vs Mushroom Extract” to learn more.
For more information, check out “How to Choose a High Quality Turkey Tail Supplement” down below.
Dosage: How Much Turkey Tail Mushroom Should I Take?
Determining the appropriate dosage of turkey tail mushroom is crucial to enjoy its potential health benefits effectively. The ideal dosage can vary based on several factors, including your overall health, any underlying medical conditions, and the form of turkey tail you are consuming.
If you're considering turkey tail supplements, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on the product label. Typically, supplements come in capsule or powder form, each with specific dosages based on the concentration of the extract. Start with the recommended dose and monitor how your body responds.
For those using dried turkey tail mushrooms to make tea, a common approach is to steep about 2 to 2.5 grams of dried mushroom in hot water to create a potent infusion. For turkey tail extract, 1 gram per day is a good starting point.
Adjust the quantity based on your preference and any guidance from a healthcare professional.
Remember, moderation is key. Begin with a conservative dosage and gradually increase if needed while observing how your body reacts. Always prioritize safety and consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable dosage for your specific situation.
Turkey tail mushroom, with its potential immune-boosting and antioxidant properties, offers an array of health benefits. However, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional before adding it to your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
Incorporating turkey tail mushroom into your diet through tea, soups, or supplements may be a convenient way to experience its potential advantages. Remember, moderation and proper guidance are key to making the most of this remarkable mushroom.
If you want to take full advantage of the "functional" side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps, Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more.
- “ Polysaccharides and Their Derivatives as Potential Antiviral Molecules” https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/14/2/426
- “The mycelium of the Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom and its fermented substrate each show potent and complementary immune activating properties in vitro” https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-019-2681-7
- “Biological mechanism and clinical effect of protein-bound polysaccharide K (KRESTIN®): review of development and future perspectives” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00595-011-0075-7
- “Efficacy of Yun Zhi (Coriolus versicolor) on Survival in Cancer Patients: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” https://www.eurekaselect.com/article/39867
- “Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version” https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/mushrooms-pdq
- “What is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem across Age, Environment, Diet, and Diseases” https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/7/1/14
- “Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes Versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.4161/gmic.29558
- “Effect of Coriolus versicolor Mycelia Extract on Exercise Performance and Physical Fatigue in Mice” https://www.medsci.org/v14p1110.htm
- “Coriolus versicolor aqueous extract ameliorates insulin resistance with PI3K/Akt and p38 MAPK signaling pathways involved in diabetic skeletal muscle” https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6007