Mushrooms are a type of fungi and are genetically closer to animals than plants.
There are over 50,000 species of mushrooms; some edible, others toxic, and some with unmatched medicinal value.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries for a variety of health benefits including:
- Immune Support
- Cognitive Support
- Increased Energy
WHAT IS TURKEY TAIL?
One of the most researched medicinal mushrooms is Trametes Versicolor, also known as Coriolus Versicolor and commonly called Turkey Tail.
It was given the name Turkey Tail, thanks to its enchanting colorful disc-like shape that looks like the fan of a turkey’s tail. Look out for it on your next nature trail, as it's quite common in woody areas and grows on tree stumps and dead trees.
Striking beauty isn’t the only thing that turkey tail mushroom offers.
Known as Yun Zhi in China and Kawaratake in Japan, it’s been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat respiratory problems, general weakness, and chronic illnesses such as cancer.
Western medicine has also leveraged the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms to extract the army of antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, immune-boosting, and cancer-fighting properties they have to protect you from diseases and promote your well-being.
Here are some of the health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms—backed by research.
5 TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOM BENEFITS
- Strengthens Immune System
- Antioxidant Rich
- Anti-Cancer Properties
- Improves Digestive Systems
- Anti-Viral Properties
STRENGTHENS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Are you always under the weather—a cold that doesn’t end crowned with a runny nose, headaches, and unexplainable bouts of fatigue?
You may have a weak immune system that needs boosting so that it can protect you from frequent illnesses and infections.
Turkey tail mushroom has become increasingly popular as one of the most potent natural remedies for immunity.
Its extract contains two important immune system boosting polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates) that fight diseases and inflammations:
- Polysaccharide peptide, also known as polysaccharopeptide (PSP)—increases monocytes (a type of white blood cells) that attack viruses and other infections in your body
- Polysaccharide Kurcha also known as Polysaccharide K or Krestin(PSK)—stimulates the production of NK cells that help control the spread of tumors and bacteria
RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
You've probably come across the advantages of eating foods packed with antioxidants in wellness circles.
But to truly unpack their importance, we must first introduce two medical terms—free radicals and oxidative stress.
Free radicals are unstable molecules formed when a single atom splits and forms unpaired electrons.
Now, free radicals don’t like to be alone, so they roam about looking for an electron they can pair with. When they pull an electron from a previously stable molecule, the molecule ends up becoming a free radical that leads to more and more healthy cells being destroyed.
Too many free radicals in your body cause oxidative stress, which may lead to aging, inflammation, chronic illnesses, and diseases like cancer.
Here's why you need antioxidants.
Antioxidants provide electrons for the free radicals to pair with, making them stable thus reducing the chances of oxidative stress.
Luckily, turkey tail mushrooms are rich in antioxidants.
In fact, researchers have traced over 35 natural antioxidants in them, including phenols and flavonoids, which scavenge the free radicals, reduce inflammation and protect cells.
TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS MAY HELP AID IN THE TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCERS
China and Japan have used medicinal mushrooms—including turkey tail, reishi, maitake, and shiitake—alongside primary cancer treatments for over 30 years.
Similarly, recent studies by the National Cancer Institute have found promising results in using turkey tail mushrooms to aid the treatment and prevention of certain types of cancers including:
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Gastric cancer
The randomized clinical trials found that when turkey tail extracts such as PSK were taken with standard treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, cancer patients experienced:
- Higher disease-free survival rates—longer periods of time after treatment before the relapse of cancer symptoms
- Increased immune function and immune response to chemotherapy drugs
- Reduced side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, and weight loss
- Lower chances of developing metastatic cancer—when a single cancer cell breaks off and attaches to another part of your body
Overall, incorporating turkey tail mushrooms may help cancer patients improve their quality of life during and after cancer treatment.
TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS PROMOTES GUT HEALTH AND SUPPORTS DIGESTION
Your intestines host trillions of bacteria called gut microbiomes which have a significant effect on your health.
The beneficial bacteria called probiotics:
- Strengthen your immune response
- Fight depression symptoms
- Help digestion
- Lower cholesterol levels and prevent obesity
The harmful bacteria in your gut are a recipe for illnesses and diseases like:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Leaky gut syndrome
How do you suppress the harmful bacteria and encourage the beneficial ones to grow?
Feed the probiotics with prebiotics to help them beat the enemy.
You'll of course need to eat foods or take supplements rich in prebiotics to get them into your gut.
Turkey tail mushroom is an excellent source with research showing that taking daily doses of PSP reduces the risks of attacks from bacteria such as E. coli and Shigella.
USED FOR CENTURIES IN TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE, TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS CONTAIN ANTIVIRAL PROPERTIES
Besides antibacterial and antioxidant properties, Turkey tail mushrooms are rich in antiviral agents which protect you against viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1).
A study of 61 patients who tested positive for oral HPV found that after two months, 88% of those treated with turkey tail extracts were cleared of the virus compared to only 5% among the control group.
In another study, the use of turkey tail extract blended with other wild mushrooms was used to provide relief from Kaposi's sarcoma—a type of skin cancer that affects HIV/AIDS patients.
COMMON TURKEY TAIL QUESTIONS
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS?
Most people who take part in research studies report very few side effects from using turkey tail extracts.
However, some people may experience constipation, bloating, nausea, and loss of appetite, especially when used alongside primary cancer treatment.
Note: Always consult a doctor if you have any underlying condition before taking turkey tail extract. Also, keep off if you’re allergic to fungi or mold.
WILL TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS GET ME HIGH?
No, turkey tail mushrooms are medicinal, not psychedelic.
This is because they don’t have the chemical substance called psilocybin found in magic mushrooms which gives them their hallucinogen effect.
ARE TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS SUPPLEMENTS SAFE?
Turkey tail has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Not only are they safe, but also convenient for health enthusiasts who supplement with medicinal mushrooms.
When purchasing a mushroom supplement, look for formula's that use organic fruiting bodies and are third party tested.