When it comes to functional foods, it’s no secret that turkey tail mushrooms may top the rest. Despite sounding like a made-up phenomenon from a children’s bedtime story, turkey tail mushrooms are the most widely researched medicinal mushroom in the world. Incredibly beneficial in aiding and complementing treatment across a range of health issues, turkey tail mushrooms offer improved digestion, cancer-fighting compounds, valuable antioxidants, and significant enhancements to your immune system.
What are Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Where Did They Originate?
“Turkey tail mushrooms have been used to treat various maladies for hundreds of years in Asia, Europe, and by indigenous peoples in North America. Records of turkey tail brewed as medicinal tea date from the early 15th century, during the Ming Dynasty in China.” – Paul Stamets
Turkey tail mushrooms (AKA Trametes Versicolor or Coriolus Versicolor, amongst other names) aren’t just a new health fad, they have been used around the globe for centuries to treat various health conditions. This unique fungus grows on dead hardwood throughout the world, with its appearance consisting of distinctive layered stripes in colours tan, white and grey. However, don’t be tricked by the name and assume the turkey tail is made up of animal compounds – we can promise you it is 100% vegan and vegetarian.
Many Asian cultures associate turkey tail with health, longevity and the concept of infinity. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries as an immunomodulator that increases immune functions and fights infections.
If you’re not interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine, let’s hit you up with the Western facts! Western medicine has caught onto the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms over the last few decades, as more and more worldwide clinical trials have unearthed amazing results that truly shine a light on the power of nature. Here are some quotes from a selection of trusted scientific research studies:
- “PBG from the edible mushroom Coriolus Versicolor can be a potent anti-obesity component”, 2019
- “PSP from T. Versicolor acts as a prebiotic to modulate human intestinal microbiome composition”, 2014
- “Turkey tail mushrooms enhanced the ability of the patient’s immune system to discover the tumour, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy”, 2012
- “A novel immune therapy with significant applications in cancer treatment”, 2012
- “T. versicolor should be considered as an alternative source of bioactive substances to be used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases”, 2017
So, let’s explore the main benefits of this fascinating medicinal mushroom!
Five Advantageous Health Benefits that the Turkey Tail Mushroom is Renowned For:
- It is Packed with Antioxidants
Turkey tail contains a significant array of antioxidants including phenols and flavonoids, which can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation – but, how did this improve your health in simple terms?
Oxidative stress is a result of an antioxidant and free radical imbalance, which can increase the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and other health issues. Turkey tail mushrooms are a brilliant prevention method for oxidative stress, naturally containing more than 35 phenols (the most important radical scavengers). These antioxidants inhibit inflammation or damage caused by oxidative stress, protecting against the cell damage that “free radicals” cause. In short, they enhance an individual’s immune system health by reducing inflammation and activating protective compounds.
This means that turkey tail mushrooms can assist in preventing a wide range of conditions, including:
- Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of blood vessels
- Inflammatory conditions
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Heart disease
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
- The effects of ageing
- Prevents and Treats the Common Cold and Flu
Known in particular for containing potent natural polysaccharides, such as the protein-bound molecules known as Polysaccharide K (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP), many studies have shown that turkey tail mushrooms help your body in supporting a healthy and robust immune response in addition to managing inflammatory response at the cellular level.
Turkey tail mushrooms have long been known for its success in staving off any possible infections, making them the perfect dietary supplement to help battle against the common cold and flu. If you find yourself stocking up on tissues, over-the-counter flu medication and sore throat lozenges, then try out this amazing mushroom. Medicinal mushrooms may truly outshine all when it comes to strengthening the immune system, providing antiviral and antibacterial effects.
“T. versicolor 353 mycelium [turkey tail] was found to have a high therapeutic index (324.67), and may be a promising material for the pharmaceutical industry as an anti-influenza and antiherpetic agent with low toxicity.” – 2014
- Can Aid Chemotherapy
Additionally, with its immune-boosting compounds, turkey tail is often used in tandem with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy to help fight certain cancers, by assisting your body’s natural killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Whilst the mushroom’s impact is most evident on breast cancer patients, turkey tails have also shown significant potential in fighting stomach, lung, uterine, cervical, oesophageal, colon and nasopharyngeal cancers.
The well-known American mycologist Paul Stamets states that “The virus-to-cancer connection is where medicinal mushrooms offer unique opportunities for medical research.”
Take a look at this webpage from America’s National Center for Biotechnology Information for a huge range of clinical research studies on potential cancer-fighting benefits:
- Trial on breast cancer: “There was an increase in natural killer cells and other cancer-fighting cells in the immune system”
- Trial on colorectal cancer: “Patients who received PSK were less likely to have recurrent cancer and lived longer than those who did not”
- Trial on lung cancer: “Patients who received PSK improved in one or more ways, including immune function, body weight, well-being, tumor-related symptoms, or longer survival”
- Trial on gastric cancer: “On average, the patients who received chemotherapy and PSK lived longer than those who received chemotherapy alone”
- Aids Digestion
Maintaining beneficial bacteria in the gut is essential to an individual’s health and wellbeing, as well as directly impacting your immune response. Turkey tail mushrooms contain prebiotics, which helps nourish the stomach’s healthy bacteria. This is even more beneficial to those suffering from conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s Disease, intestinal infections, coeliac disease, chronic kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, cystic fibrosis, sepsis and Type 1 Diabetes, who may have damaged bowel linings or “leaky gut” syndrome.
“Interactions between the microbial flora of the intestine and the human host play a critical role in maintaining intestinal health and in the pathophysiology of a wide variety of disorders…PSP from T. versicolor acts as a prebiotic to modulate human intestinal microbiome composition” – 2014
Moreover, the mycelium in the mushroom can assist in a smoother digestion process, which can even assist with weight loss.
“The data highlight that PBG may exert its anti‐obesity effects through a mirobiota‐dependent (richness of specific microbiota) and ‐independent (modulation of host metabolism) manner. The fact that C. versicolor PBGs are approved oral immune boosters in cancers and chronic hepatitis with well‐established safety profiles may accelerate PBG as a novel use for obesity treatment.” – 2019
- Can Help Combat HPV
According to many scientific studies, many medicinal mushrooms may assist the recovery of an oral strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Whilst HPV currently has no cure, turkey tail mushrooms are being researched as potential breakthrough in this area.
One study showed that turkey tail mushrooms demonstrated positive results in an amazing 88% of participants, compared to 5% of the control group. This study has now moved into its second phase, and we can’t wait to see further updates on this. Furthermore, research indicates that the Turkey tail can also inhibit HPV-related cancers, as HPV is linked to 99% of cervical cancers, as well as other cases of other potentially fatal cancers.
Within this article, we’ve loaded you with just a few key benefits of the turkey tail mushroom, and enough scientific research papers to last you through a month of coffee breaks. But, how do you take the mushroom most effectively? There are multiple ways you can consume the mushroom; it is edible but somewhat chewy, therefore most prevalent in tea or capsule form.
If you are looking for a way to include the turkey tail mushroom in your diet, we offer the perfect solution. Our turkey tail capsules from Rebiotics are an easy and convenient way to reap the health benefits of this truly fascinating mushroom and experience the healing power of nature.