Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits: A Complete Guide
In the current climate, immune health has never been more important. It is only natural for you to want to do everything you can to support your immunity and protect your body. As it turns out, a fungi may be just what you and your pets need.
Now, we understand, many people have mixed feelings about mushrooms besides for food -- many people associate them with being poisonous, being hallucinogenic, etc. but we’re here to tell you that there’s a lot to be excited about! Mushrooms can work synergistically with the body to achieve better immune and overall health. In the case of turkey tail mushrooms, the latter is true!
In this article we are going to break down everything you need to know about turkey tail mushroom, from its benefits to its potential side effects. Next, we will explain how turkey tail mushroom promotes your holistic health, and what other steps you can take to boost your holistic wellness. Let’s get started!
What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?
Turkey tail mushroom is a fungi that is present (and common!) in many parts of the world, including the United States. It may also be referred to as Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor, or Polyporus versicolor.
The term “versicolor” refers to the fact that turkey tail mushrooms have multiple colors--typically different shades of brown, white, black and gray. The “turkey tail” part of turkey tail mushroom makes reference to the appearance of turkey tail mushrooms--evidently, they tend to resemble a turkey’s tail. They can usually be found on tree trunks and grow outwards in wide, colorful, fan-like slices.
Turkey tail mushrooms have been used for centuries in traditional medicinal practices, particularly in China. This is because turkey tail mushrooms are functional mushrooms, and are typically used for their health benefits beyond their nutritional content. Though each individual type of functional mushroom has their own unique benefits, all functional mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals, among other beneficial components such as beta glucans.
Functional mushrooms are not to be mistaken with psychedelic mushrooms. The latter have an intoxicating effect (which is shown to be beneficial in some cases), meaning they cause a hallucinogenic experience, while functional mushrooms will not and instead offer other health benefits to your body when consumed.
Functional mushrooms like turkey tail mushroom promote holistic wellness. Holistic health aims to benefit the body as a whole, and recognizes that every aspect of your health (mental, physical, and spiritual) is interconnected. In other words, when, say, your mental health falls off, your physical and spiritual health are likely to follow. To improve your mental health, you would have to take measures to better support your mental, physical and spiritual health altogether as opposed to trying to improve just the one.
Turkey tail mushroom has two main components: PSK (also known as krestin) and PSP (polysaccharide peptide). PSK and PSP are both polysaccharides, which are a type of carbohydrate. These two components work similar to antioxidants, though they tend to focus particularly on the immune system. Turkey tail mushroom gets its immune-supporting qualities from these two components.
What Are The Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
Now that we know what turkey tail mushroom is, let’s focus on what exactly turkey tail mushroom does. Turkey tail mushroom is primarily used to support your immune response and overall health in various ways, but primarily, it supports healthy immune response.
A very important part of all these mushrooms are the beta-glucans, which are actually why most people take mushrooms. Beta-glucans are made of mostly beta-D-glucose and are found in the mushrooms’ cell wall. They are heavily responsible for many of the immune-modulating effects of these mushrooms, supporting the body in its natural defenses against pathogens.
Turkey tail mushrooms are also rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, phenols, quercetin, and baicalein. Similar to the way flavonoids and other plant material found in hemp extract work synergistically with CBD to maximize the benefits of hemp extract, these antioxidants help optimize how turkey tail mushrooms affect the body.
The main role of antioxidants is to combat oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can occur as a result of certain environmental stressors, such as exposure to pollution, or because of an excess of molecules called free radicals in the body.
Free radicals have a missing electron pair, making them highly unstable. Without the presence of antioxidants, free radicals would steal electrons from various structures within your body’s cells, such as the cell wall. Antioxidants can afford to lose an electron to free radicals without sacrificing their stability, and in doing so protect the rest of the cell from damage. A damaged cell is not able to perform its essential tasks to the best of its ability, and must waste precious energy on repairing itself.
Since free radicals can damage almost every type of cell in the human body, and because inflammation is a natural immune response, the large supply of antioxidants in turkey tail mushrooms only furthers their support for the immune system.
Finally, your gut is one of the most important parts of the body when it comes to immune protection, and turkey tail mushroom helps promote better gut health. This is because turkey tail mushrooms support the “good” bacteria in your gut with their supply of prebiotics.
Prebiotics are not themselves healthy bacteria, but instead they work to boost the strength and activity of healthy bacteria. Since “good” bacteria play an important role in regulating the immune system and protecting the body, prebiotics support your overall immune response. Prebiotics also promote better digestion and absorption of essential nutrients.
All in all, turkey tail mushrooms can be extremely beneficial to your immune, gut, and overall holistic health.
Is Turkey Tail Mushroom Safe?
Turkey tail mushroom is generally safe to consume, however there are a few points that you should be aware of before using it.
Firstly, though you may be able to find turkey tail mushrooms in your backyard (turkey tail mushrooms grow all over the world), we advise that you do not consume any wild turkey tail mushrooms because you may think you know what you’re consuming but it could be something else that’s not safe to consume. Since certain mushrooms are poisonous, mistaking a toxic mushroom for turkey tail mushroom could be a deadly mistake.
In addition, you never know what kind of pesticides, germs, heavy metals, and other toxins are present in the area where you found the wild mushrooms.
Instead of foraging for turkey tail mushrooms in the wild, you can find them in either tea, powder, or capsule form. Make sure to look for brands that have their supplements third-party tested. This will ensure that the supplements are safe to consume (meaning free of any potentially harmful components).
Another thing to keep in mind is that turkey tail mushroom may trigger an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to fungi, molds, or mushrooms you should avoid this supplement, or at the very least consult with your doctor to see if turkey tail mushroom is safe for you.
In fact, even if you have no known allergies, if you want to be careful you should still speak with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your diet, whether turkey tail mushroom or something different. If you are taking additional medications, your doctor can tell you whether or not they will interact with the turkey tail mushroom supplement.
While the majority of people will not experience any side effects from turkey tail mushroom, and those that do typically only experience mild side effects, you may notice some digestive issues (such as nausea or constipation), heartburn. It’s important to consider the other ingredients in the products when looking out for potential side effects.
How To Support Your Holistic Health: Turkey Tail Mushroom and Beyond!
We walked through some of the many ways turkey tail mushrooms can support your holistic health. However, there are other steps you can take to further improve your mind-body-spirit connection and benefit your body as a “whole.” Consider some of the following:
- Try CBD oil supplements.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Get a good night’s sleep, each and every night (we know this isn’t always possible, but do your best!).
- Drink lots and lots of water.
- Exercise regularly.
- Spend some time outside!
- Laugh... A lot.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Surround yourself with people who bring you up.
- Always be learning.
- Treat yoself.
By recognizing the way your mind, body, and spirit are connected, you can achieve optimal overall health and be the best “you” that you can possibly be!
5 Immune-Boosting Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom (healthline.com)
Turkey tail mushrooms: Immune system, cancer, and more (medicalnewstoday.com)
Turkey Tail: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage (verywellhealth.com)