The turkey tail mushroom is one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms in the world. This beautiful, wild-growing fungus is known in both traditional Eastern medicine and recent scientific studies for its host of health benefits and its particularly powerful effects on the immune system. Turkey tail mushroom contains high levels of nutrients, including antioxidants and immune-boosting compounds. And its purported benefits include everything from boosting gut health and cardiovascular health to fighting cancer.
The turkey tail mushroom is a type of medicinal mushroom harvested around the world. It grows on the dead bark of hardwood trees and resembles a turkey tail — hence its name: a flat, fluted fungus with distinctive stripes in hues of brown, grey, tan and white. The turkey tail mushroom has a thick, leathery texture that makes it unpleasant to eat in its whole form. Instead, it’s typically consumed in the form of powder or tea.
Turkey tail mushrooms have a lengthy history in traditional Eastern medicine and are known for their immune system benefits. In traditional Chinese medicine, turkey tail mushroom is often brewed into a tea to fight infections, strengthen the immune system and boost energy. You can also find turkey tail mushrooms in a host of dietary supplement products, including capsules and tinctures.
Turkey tail mushrooms contain a wide range of antioxidants, including beneficial phenols and flavonoids, which can help prevent oxidative stress and cell damage in the body. Studies have shown that turkey tail mushrooms contain as many as 35 different phenolic compounds and multiple flavonoids. Phenols and flavonoids both contribute to immune system function and overall health.
In addition to antioxidants, turkey tail mushrooms contain polysaccharopeptide, a type of polysaccharide or carbohydrate with powerful immune-boosting properties. Turkey tail mushrooms contain at least two types of polysaccharopeptide: krestin and polysaccharide peptide. Both of these compounds contribute to immune system function by activating immune cells and suppressing inflammation. For maximum support, turkey tail mushroom could be combined with immunity-boosting multivitamins.
Studies show that the turkey tail’s immune-boosting benefits may be especially beneficial for those with certain types of cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer. Polysaccharide peptide, for example, may slow the growth of colon cancer. And other polysaccharopeptides in turkey tail mushrooms, including Coriolus versicolor glucan, have been shown to reduce the size of tumors in several studies. For this reason, turkey tail mushroom is often used in tandem with cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
The polysaccharopeptide in turkey tail mushrooms may also contribute to gut health. These compounds have shown in studies to increase beneficial gut bacteria, leading to a decrease in other more problematic bacteria such as E. coli. Turkey tail’s gut health benefits may lead to better digestion, improved immune system function and overall health and vitality.
The antioxidants in turkey tail mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce chronic inflammation and aid in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Turkey tail mushrooms may also be useful in the treatment of HPV.
Turkey tail mushrooms may be able to fight fatigue and boost energy, especially in athletes. For this reason, taking turkey tail mushrooms may also improve athletic performance.
Some studies show that turkey tail mushrooms can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including staph and salmonella.
Turkey tail mushrooms contain beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that may lower the risk for heart disease by preventing cholesterol absorption.