Turkey tail mushrooms, scientifically known as Trametes Versicolor or Coriolus Versicolor, are one of the most popular polypore mushrooms available. Named for their resemblance to the feathered tail of a turkey, they have a fan-like shape with striking colors.
Turkey tail has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It symbolizes longevity and health in many Asian cultures. It’s known to have a variety of potential health benefits but is most well-researched for its ability to support the immune system.
While some mushrooms are enjoyable to eat, the turkey tail mushroom is not. It doesn’t have an unpleasant bitter flavor, like certain other mushrooms, but it is chewy and tough. Fortunately, though, you can find it in a variety of supplement forms, including teas, powder, tinctures, and even turkey tail mushroom capsules.
Capsules are one of the easiest delivery methods because they’re very convenient and can be added to your existing daily health regime effortlessly. So, you’re probably wondering why you should take turkey tail supplements and what they can do for you? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Are Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
Turkey Tail is one of over one hundred species of mushrooms that have been researched for their medicinal properties. But with a tough, leathery texture, you won’t find the turkey tail mushroom in the culinary section of your grocery store.
However, you may have stumbled across them without even realizing it if you’ve gone hiking in the woods. They grow abundantly on dead and fallen trees, logs, and stumps and can be found in forests across the world. As long as there are trees, turkey tail can grow easily, making it one of the most popular mushrooms available today.
Turkey tail is a type of polypore mushroom, meaning it has pores on its underside instead of gills. The tiny pores can be found underneath the mushroom top and are responsible for releasing spores that allow the mushrooms to reproduce. Reishi is another popular medicinal mushroom that is classified as a polypore.
Traditionally, turkey tail has been used for centuries to promote general health, strength, and longevity. Today, it’s been touted for its ability to boost the immune system, among several other potential health benefits.
What Are the Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
There are numerous types of medicinal mushrooms that provide an array of impressive health benefits, such as chaga, lion’s mane, and reishi. While most are known to promote overall health and wellness, each has its own unique set of health advantages when it comes to supporting the body.
Turkey tail mushroom is especially known for its potent natural polysaccharides, specifically polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharopeptide (PSP). Both these compounds have powerful immune-boosting properties.
Here are four of the most exciting potential health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms.
1. May Boost the Immune System
Thanks to its high concentration of PSK and PSP, turkey tail is especially useful for immune health. They work by activating and inhibiting specific types of immune cells, which improves the body’s chance of fighting off toxins, viruses, and bacteria. Plus, these compounds may also suppress inflammation. Moreover, because it improves immune system function, turkey tail may help treat or prevent the common cold and flu.
2. May Enhance Gut Health
A rich source of prebiotics, research suggests that turkey tail may be beneficial for gut health. Prebiotics provide the nourishment that the “good” bacteria in the gut needs to flourish and grow. One 2014 study reported that turkey tail might act as a prebiotic and could help regulate the gut microbiome of healthy people.
As part of the study, 24 healthy individuals were instructed to consume 3,600mg of PSP extracted from the turkey tail mushroom daily over an eight-week period. The study reports beneficial changes in gut bacteria, as well as the inhibited growth of potentially harmful bacteria, like E. coli and Shigella bacteria.
3. Packed with Antioxidants
Turkey tail mushrooms have a high concentration of antioxidants. A 2017 study discovered that the mushroom contains more than 40 naturally occurring antioxidants. Here are the most noteworthy antioxidants found in turkey tail:
- Phenols: The mushroom contains more than 35 phenols, which have been linked to several health benefits, like an anti-inflammatory response.
- Flavonoids: These “heart-healthy” compounds help the body to function more efficiently while protecting it against everyday stressors and toxins.
- Quercetin: This antioxidant has been researched for its potential in reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering high blood pressure, reducing inflammation, etc.
Antioxidants are an important part of a healthy diet because they minimize cell damage caused by free radicals and, thereby, also minimize oxidative stress.
It’s important to note that most research on turkey tail is still ongoing. Currently, clinical trials are lacking, and most evidence is based on animal studies. More human studies are necessary before any company can claim that turkey tail will treat or cure a specific condition.
Final Thoughts on Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Turkey tail is one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms in the health and wellness world. It’s packed with antioxidants, provides immune support, and may enhance gut health. They grow easily and can be found worldwide, which means getting your hands on turkey tail is fairly easy.
However, it’s not a particularly tasty mushroom, so most prefer consuming it as a supplement. Typically, people opt for mushroom powder or capsules, which are convenient for daily use. Just be sure to shop from a reputable brand and check buyer reviews before finalizing an order to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, safe, effective supplement.