Turkey Tail Mushrooms Health Benefits- A Complete Guide

Nikhil Goswami

Did you ever go for a walk in the woods or hiking and noticed the fan-shaped mushrooms in clusters? These mushrooms are mostly found in forests as they grow in woods. They have an eye-catching exterior with a grayish or brownish shade and have little velvety hairs on them. The Turkey Tail Mushrooms are medicinal and are second most popular after the mushrooms we use for cooking.

However, the problem with these mushrooms is that you can’t just eat them like other mushrooms. Since the Turkey Tail Mushrooms are thick and brittle, they aren’t edible. To consume them, you’ll have to prepare the mushrooms differently to get maximum benefits from them. We’ve got you covered if you’re here to find a way to consume the Turkey Tail Mushrooms to benefit from its medicinal effects.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms: A Story From Thousand Years Ago

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are striped and multicolored fungi, also known as Trametes Versicolor or Coriolus Versicolor. The mushrooms belong to the Polyporaceae family, and they grow on branches, decomposed logs, stumps, and almost any type of wood. They have their names because they resemble Turkey’s tails striped similarly. Shrooms are currently illegal in US, but if you want to take benefits of the same, then here are mushroom supplements for you.

Speaking of history, the Turkey Tail Mushrooms were used for medicinal purposes centuries ago. They have a long history of medicinal use; it dates back to 200 BC, when the Chinese used these mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since it has a rough and unpalatable exterior, they were used as a brewed medicinal tea. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, brewed tea helps strengthen the spirit (Shen) and improve vital energy (Chi). Besides that, it has improved liver and lung function for centuries.

The Japanese used to call it “cloud mushroom” or “kawaritake” as its shape resembles that of swirling clouds. In 1965, a Japanese chemical engineer decided to study more about this plant after several reports and cases of healing due to this mushroom. After research and studies, he found out that the mushroom contains polysaccharides that are also called beta-glucans and are helpful to boost immunity. These compounds interact with our body’s immune cells and remove unwanted pathogens. Currently, Turkey Tail Mushroom is already widely studied, and its benefits for immune health and gut health are proven through numerous research.

How To Identify Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Turkey Tail Mushroom’s scientific name is Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor, which refers to the multicolored stripes on the mushroom. These stripes or bands on the mushroom are of different colors, mostly brown or gray. The mushrooms have small velvety hair that covers the exterior surface. However, the main feature that helps identify the Turkey Tail Mushrooms is on the inner side. There are around 15 sister species of this Mushroom in the US and Canada, and thus identification can be difficult sometimes.

If you flip a Turkey Tail Mushroom over, it will have a white-colored base with small uniform pores present throughout the surface. The mushroom uses these pores to release spores for reproduction. Following are the main features that will help you identify Turkey Tail Mushrooms:

  • It is found all year-round but mostly grows during the fall season (from May to December)
  • Grows on stumps, fallen hardwood logs, or shelves
  • They are stemless and fan-shaped and are one to four inches wide
  • They have a tough leathery texture and tiny velvety hair on the surface
  • There are small, uniform pores on the inner side
  • The spore print is white

You must remember that Turkey Tail Mushrooms are not the only mushrooms that are fan shaped. Several other mushrooms look like the Turkey Tail Mushrooms and have a few similar features too. A False Turkey Tail resembles Turkey Tail Mushroom and often grows near it too. To differentiate between these mushrooms, look at their inner side. False Turkey Tail Mushroom is pore less on the inner side and is mostly beige on the under portion.

False Turkey Tails aren’t poisonous, so even if you mistake them for Turkey Tail Mushrooms, they won’t harm you. Besides that, two more mushrooms look like Turkey Tails, including Violet Toothed Polypore and Multicolor Gilled Polypore.

Where To Find the Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Turkey Tail Mushrooms grow in the form of clusters, and they are found almost anywhere across the world. They grow on decaying or dead woods in the US, Europe, the UK, Russia, and Asia. As we mentioned earlier, these mushrooms grow in all types of woods, and until now, they have grown in as many as 70 types of woods. Sometimes they might grow on coniferous trees too, which no other mushrooms can grow.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are fungi, and like other fungi, they grow on decomposed and decaying things. They reproduce by depositing spores on the woods that have been damaged, are dead, or decomposed. You’ll find these mushrooms in foods in large groups, such as layers or rounded shelves.

The mushrooms are easily found in North American woods, where they are present in abundance. The fungi also grow in shady and wet areas in temperate Asian and European forests. Besides, these mushrooms are easy to cultivate; you can grow medicinal mushrooms in your backyard. The easiest way to grow these mushrooms at home is to buy them as a kit. To cultivate them at home, you must put logs and plug spawn or sawdust inside a bag and keep the environment moist, so the mushrooms grow easily.

What Makes Turkey Tail Mushrooms So Powerful?

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are packed with powerful, nutritional compounds that make them ideal for improving various health conditions. Their immune-boosting properties are because of the compounds present in them, making them different from other mushrooms. The following compounds make Turkey Tail Mushrooms very powerful:

  • Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP)

Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain polysaccharides (PSP) that are effective and powerful protein complexes. These compounds have been found to have immune-boosting properties. These compounds, along with the beta-glucans, are called immunomodulators as they balance the immune system. PSP also belongs to a group of compounds called the biological response modifiers (BRMs) that work to restore the immune balance in the body. A study indicates that naturally occurring polysaccharides can help boost the immune system.

  • Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK)

Polysaccharide Krestin has healing powers and improves the body’s inflammatory response. A study states that the PSK helps inhibit the growth of tumors by stimulating several hormones. PSK has also been approved for clinical use for its healing benefits, and good thing that the Turkey Tail Mushrooms have it in them.

  • Polyphenols

Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain polyphenols such as flavonoids that help regulate blood pressure and improve blood circulation. There are numerous benefits of polyphenols, and various studies prove that. These compounds are mostly found in plants and greatly benefit the human body in fighting diseases. Regularly consuming polyphenols can lower blood sugar levels, lower the risk of heart diseases, prevent blood clots, and prevent cancer.

  • Triterpenes

Triterpenes are present in the mushroom membrane and are helpful for people with diabetes. The compounds can inhibit enzymes that control glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. Triterpenes in mushrooms have anti-inflammatory, anti-virus, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetes benefits.

  • Sterols

Sterols are hormone precursors that contain fungisterol and ergosterol. These plant sterols help reduce cholesterol levels and thus improve overall heart health. They effectively lower cholesterol, and consuming them regularly can improve heart health. The compounds help reduce cholesterols by decreasing the LDL buildup in the artery walls. Sterols have other benefits, too, such as they can help reduce dependency on steroids.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

Besides the main compounds, the Turkey Tail Mushrooms also contain numerous vitamins and minerals that can improve various body functions. They contain vitamin B3, vitamin D, and selenium. The selenium content depends on the amount of selenium present in the environment these medicinal mushrooms are growing. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that may reduce the risk of various diseases. It helps prevent mental decline and asthma symptoms and also helps improve thyroid health.

Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms

The main compounds that make Turkey Tail Mushrooms beneficial are the polysaccharides. The polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide K (PSK) are the compounds that occur in the mushroom naturally and support the immune system. These polysaccharides are protein-bound and also control the body’s inflammatory response. Following are the main benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms:

  • Immune Health

The main benefit of Turkey Tail Mushrooms is that it supports the immune system. It has bioactive compounds that have powerful immunostimulatory properties. These properties allow these compounds to interact with the cells in the body and stimulate them to produce compounds that are good for the immune system. The powerful phenols and flavonoids also support the immune system by increasing the immune-supporting compounds in the body.

A study indicates that Turkey Tail Mushrooms can enhance immune modulation activity and help the body recover. The study was done on a breast cancer patient and found that using this Mushroom improved the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

  • Adaptogenic Properties

Turkey Tail Mushrooms have adaptogenic properties, which means that they help the body adapt to different types of stresses. The adaptogens in these mushrooms interact with the HPA (Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis in the body to minimize stress levels. The stress levels are stabilized when the cortisol levels come balanced in response to any type of stress, which includes physical, chemical, or biological stress. Since stress can negatively affect the body, the mushroom can improve overall health by reducing stress levels.

  • Digestive Health

Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain various compounds that improve gut health and boost energy levels. The mushroom is packed with antioxidants that help fight against the free radicals in the body and remove toxins. The composition of gut bacteria plays an important role in our digestive health, and the beta-glucans in this mushroom help improve gut health. A study shows that Turkey Tail Mushroom is beneficial for gut health as it causes changes in the gut microbiome. The polysaccharides in the mushroom also change the microbiota composition in the gut in a way to improve digestion. The polysaccharides in the Turkey Tail Mushrooms are effective for treating gastrointestinal cancer, too, because of their ability to improve gut health.

  • Inflammation Response

Turkey Tail Mushroom reduces oxidative stress on the body and supports a healthy inflammation response. The mushroom acts as an antioxidant to fight the free radicals in the body and improves the body’s inflammatory response. It protects the brain and also solves memory issues. The PSP and PSK in Turkey Tail Mushroom are the compounds that improve the body’s response to various types of treatments and medications. These compounds also help in improving muscle strength and overcoming fatigue due to cellular and muscular damage.

  • Cancer-Fighting Potential

A study on the effects of Turkey Tail Mushrooms shows that Turkey Tail Mushrooms can help fight cancer. This is because they have immune-boosting properties and excellent inflammation responses that can prove helpful in cancer treatment. However, no studies prove that Turkey Tail Mushrooms alone can fight cancer. Researchers have stated that taking these medicinal mushrooms and other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can improve the body’s ability to fight the disease. The compounds PSP and PSK have been found to stop the growth of cancer cells and thus can be helpful for cancer patients. These compounds are helpful for treating various types of cancers, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. The polysaccharides are effective for gastric cancer patients too.

  • Liver Health

The antioxidants in Turkey Tail Mushrooms are excellent agents to support liver health. Liver damage and poor liver function is a widespread disease, and it occurs due to harmful metabolites in the body. Research indicates that Turkey Tail Mushroom contains compounds that protect the liver from damage. The mushroom contains beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and proteins that increase the level of protective antioxidants in the body. As a result, the liver enzymes are reduced, and overall liver health improves. you can also take liver detox supplements for liver cleansing.

  • Blood Sugar Control

Another main benefit of Turkey Tail Mushrooms is that it balances blood sugar. A study evaluates the effects of bioactive compounds in the mushroom that can contribute to balanced blood glucose levels. Two hormones help control blood sugar levels: insulin and glucagon. Insulin lowers blood sugar, while glucagon raises blood sugar. To maintain glucose homeostasis, both hormones should work properly so that the body’s response to sugar or glucose remains normal. The PSPs in the Turkey Tail Mushrooms support normal insulin sensitivity and thus help regulate blood sugar levels.

Bioactive Components In Turkey Tail Mushrooms And Their Health Benefits

Bioactive Compounds Health Benefits How Does it Work?
Polysaccharides (mainly PSP and PSK) Immune system health The compounds improve the composition of the gut microbiome and support the immune system. It removes the barrier and improves the body’s ability to fight diseases.
Flavonoids and Phenols Anti-aging properties, reduction in oxidative stress Oxidative stress can damage cells and tissues. The compounds help prevent this and also act as an anti-aging substance.
Protein-bound Beta-Glucans Helps reduce obesity The beta-glucans in Turkey Tail Mushrooms support the gut microbiome, which improves digestion and reduces obesity.
Non-glycosylated protein obtained from mushroom fruiting bodies Anti-inflammatory properties The YZP protein has anti-inflammatory characteristics that improve the body’s response to acute colitis

How To Use Turkey Tail Mushrooms In Daily Routine

To get the most out of Turkey Tail Mushrooms, you should consume them daily. You can use it as a supplement or make a brewed tea to incorporate into your routine. Since the mushroom has a leathery texture and an earthy or woody taste, you can’t consume it directly. It is available in powder, which you can add to your food, soup, or tea.

People have been using the Turkey Tail Mushroom for centuries in the form of soups and teas to improve overall health and wellness. Following are a few methods that will help you incorporate Turkey Tails into your daily diet:

  • Turkey Tail Tea

Since Turkey Tail is a bit tough to chew or swallow, one of the best ways is to use it as tea. To make Turkey Tail Mushroom tea, take a few Turkey Tails and cut them into thin strips using scissors. Now add two tablespoons of these mushroom stripes into a pan and put three to four cups of water in it. Boil the mushrooms for a few minutes, and then put the pan on low heat for about an hour. In the end, strain the liquid into cups and add lemon and honey to it. Drink it as green tea and enjoy the Turkey Tail benefits.

  • Turkey Tail Mushroom Broth

You can also make Turkey Tail Mushroom broth or soup. Though this Mushroom is not tasty, making soup or broth out of it can turn out to be a savory option. To make a broth or soup, take ½ cup of dried or fresh Turkey Tail Mushrooms and chop them. Now add a few of your favorite soup ingredients, such as spring onions, peppercorns, salt, dried astragalus root, and 1-inch kombu seaweed, to a pan. Add mushrooms with one-gallon water and cook at a low simmer for around eight hours. In the end, strain it and enjoy hot and tasty Turkey Tail Mushroom broth.

  • Turkey Tail Mushroom Coffee

You can also add Turkey Tail Mushroom powder to coffee for those who like a bitter taste. You can also add the Mushroom extract that you’ve prepared yourself at home to your coffee and enjoy the health benefits. The Turkey Tail Mushroom doesn’t blend very well with coffee, especially if you want a frothy coffee texture. However, you can use a frother to get the perfect coffee and enjoy the health benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom too.

How To Choose Turkey Tail Supplements?

Turkey Tail Mushroom supplements are available in the form of extracts, powders, capsules, and teas. Some manufacturers also combine this mushroom with other mushrooms to make a supplement that contains maximum benefits. It is best to buy an organic supplement that doesn’t contain harmful substances or toxins. Thus, it is important to choose a manufacturer that has grown the mushrooms naturally and taken the extracts without the use of chemicals. You must look for validations by scientific studies and third-party lab test results to ensure the safety of the supplement.

The quality and brand reputation of a Turkey Tail Supplement is very important in this regard. It is important to remember that supplements that are made from naturally harvested or cultivating fruiting bodies are the most beneficial. These mushrooms contain the highest amounts of powerful compounds, including polysaccharides. Some people also prefer using Turkey Tail Mushrooms in the form of tincture. A tincture is prepared by chopping the mushrooms into small pieces and then covering them with vodka. This mixture is then kept in a cold dark place for a month or more and then strained into a bottle in the form of a tincture.

What Is The Dosage For Turkey Tail Mushrooms?

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re taking Turkey Tail Mushrooms in the form of supplements such as capsules or extracts. Most of the brands recommend taking two capsules per day. If you’re consuming tea, take only one cup of brewed tea daily. However, make sure that you make slowly simmered tea so that it contains all the benefits of the mushroom. Turkey Tail mycelium is FDA-approved in its pure form and is available at various shops across the US. Some people also use Turkey Tail Mushrooms for their pets suffering from various diseases.

If you’re a beginner, you must start with a dose of one gram of Turkey Tail powder daily. You can then gradually increase the dosage to 3 grams per day and notice the positive changes in your body. Various studies indicate that using 3 to 4 grams of Turkey Tail Mushrooms daily can deliver powerful polysaccharides to the body.

One thing to remember is that the Turkey Tail Mushrooms grow in the wild, and they might contain pollutants and dirt. The soil and the environment around these mushrooms can be extremely dirty and full of bacteria and other germs. So, if you’re going to consume it yourself, you must clean it properly before using it.

How To Store And Clean Turkey Tail Mushrooms?

Before using these mushrooms, it is important to clean them properly as they grow on dead trees, logs, and dirty places. Also, inspect the mushrooms and see if there are any insects on them. If you see any dirt or debris on the mushrooms, cut that part. You can also use a small brush to clean the mushrooms and then rinse them properly with water.

It is important to note that you should dry fresh Turkey Tail Mushrooms immediately. Dried mushrooms or powdered forms can be stored for a long time as long as you keep them properly. Always put them in an airtight container in a cool and dark place, and they will last for a few months. Add an oxygen absorber to the container to keep the Turkey Tail Mushrooms fresh for a long time. A food-safe silica product also helps absorb moisture in the container and prevents residual moisture.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms Side Effects

Turkey Tail is well-tolerated by most, but a few people have also reported side effects. The mushrooms are safe, and there are no studies or reports that prove that they are harmful. However, since everything on earth has side effects, these mushrooms have too. Most probably, the side effects are due to high dosage or consuming Turkey Tail Mushrooms in the wrong way. This is why reading and following the dosage instructions is important if you’re taking them in the supplement form. Following are the mild symptoms and side effects of using Turkey Tail Mushrooms:

  • Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn and chest pain
  • Dark-colored stools
  • Bloating and gas
  • Nausea
  • Darkening of fingernails
  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Loss of appetite

It is also important to note that there are no clinical studies to determine the exact dosage of Turkey Tail Mushrooms. The manufacturers usually state the dosage according to safe levels of consumption. However, if you’re pregnant or lactating, you must be careful and not consume Turkey Tail Mushrooms. It is always good to consult your healthcare provider before consuming any supplement.

Conclusion: What Is Turkey Tail Mushrooms Good For?

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are not poisonous and don’t have any poisonous look-alikes either. The worst experience you can have with them is picking a Turkey Tail Mushroom look-alike and ending up with a mushroom with bad taste.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are a powerhouse; as we have discussed in this post, these mushrooms have been a respectable and highly effective remedy for centuries. However, researchers are still conducting studies to find out more benefits of the Mushroom and its immune-boosting properties. Adding Turkey Tail Mushrooms to your daily diet can have lots of benefits. But ensure that you don’t go beyond the recommended dosage. Besides that, you must also remember that Turkey Tail Mushroom is not a treatment, and you can consider supplementing it with other treatments or medications to fight a particular disease.

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