Who knew that a walk through a beautiful forest might have you walking right past a mushroom that’s been used as medicine for thousands of years?
The list of Turkey Tail mushroom benefits to your health could be a mile long. It’s an extremely versatile fungus that can be used to support your health and overall wellness.
Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer!
What is a Turkey Tail Mushroom?
Turkey Tail Mushrooms are a fungus that grows on rotting trees in the forest. Sound appealing? Maybe not, but they are so packed full of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and more, that they’ve become quite popular in health and wellness communities.
The Turkey Tail Mushroom gets its name because of its unique shape and appearance. It grows in clumps of fan-shaped discs that are striped with browns, whites, and oranges, looking just like a real turkey tail!
These are polypore fungi, which means instead of having gills as you’d see on a Button or Portobello mushroom, the underside is actually covered with little pores.
The history of these healthy mushrooms goes all the way back to the 15th century when they were used in China during the Ming Dynasty as a medicinal tea.
Where Does it Grow?
Turkey Tail mushrooms are saprophytic. Simply put, that means they get all the nutrients they need from decomposing and dead organic matter. That’s why you’ll often, if not always, see them on a fallen, dead tree or a cut-off stump.
Because of their ability to turn dead organic matter into something new and alive, these types of mushrooms play a critical role in the forest ecosystem!
You can find them growing on dead wood in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
If something’s been used to help people for thousands of years, it’s safe to say it must be full of amazing benefits. Let’s dive deeper into Turkey Tail mushroom benefits
These mushrooms are chock-full of antioxidants. One study actually found they contain more than 35 different kinds of antioxidants!
Antioxidants are things that help protect every one of your cells from damage caused by oxidation and free radicals. Free radicals affect our body through things like heart disease, asthma, dementia, inflamed joints, and even cancer.
Overall Immune Health
Turkey Tail mushroom benefits also include them containing something called polysaccharopeptides that helps reduce inflammation brought on by immune cells. The reduced inflammation means the B-cells, T-cells, and antibodies are able to work more effectively to fight off diseases of all kinds.
Along with the antioxidants, Turkey Tail mushrooms are also full of prebiotics.
Prebiotics are essentially food for your digestive system. They’re carbohydrates that can’t be digested, and they are a source of food for healthy bacteria. Having a good amount of healthy bacteria is vital for gut health.
Some of the benefits of prebiotics include:
- Encouragement of hormone production that suppresses appetite
- Lowers inflammation levels
- Enhances digestion
- Boots metabolism
- Regulates bowel movements
- Boosts the absorption of calcium, increasing bone density
If you suffer from digestive issues, taking supplements may give you a Turkey Tail mushroom benefit of a decrease in your symptoms.
These mushrooms shouldn’t be used instead of traditional cancer treatment, but there are several promising studies showing supplementing treatments like surgery and chemotherapy lead to Turkey Tail mushroom benefits like improving the quality of life in cancer patients.
Two specific polysaccharopeptides, krestin (PSK) and polysaccharide peptide (PSP), work together to eliminate free radical cells.
Studies about the use of these supplements have been done in patients with breast cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, gastric cancer, and lung cancer.
One 2019 study found that combining Turkey Tail mushrooms with Reishi mushrooms not only improved the patient’s quality of life but also improved survival rates!
Lowers Fatigue, Increases Endurance
Out of all the medicinal mushrooms out there, Turkey Tail is commonly considered the very best in decreasing fatigue.
Because it helps regulate and improve the metabolization of food, it also helps stabilize energy levels.
The beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber in the mushrooms, also help your body respond to stress in a healthy way, also reducing fatigue.
While there aren’t any studies with humans to support this, there was a study done in mice that showed mice given Turkey Tail mushroom supplements had a higher endurance than those that didn’t.
All of the antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory qualities of these mushrooms make them a great resource for people trying to improve the health of their liver.
Sometimes, they’re even prescribed as part of a plan to lessen the effects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
How to Incorporate Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits Into Your Diet
Now that you know how amazing these mushrooms are for your body, it’s time to learn how to incorporate them into your diet!
You probably won’t find any stuffed, roasted, or sauteed recipes out there for the Turkey Tail mushroom. Their thick and chewy texture makes them less than ideal to eat for most people.
It’s also a challenge to find them fresh in any grocery store. If you don’t have them growing in a forest near you, your best bet is to order some dried ones online.
Once you get your dried mushrooms, making tea is incredibly easy!
Turkey Tail Mushroom Tea
Add two tablespoons of dried mushrooms to a pot and add four cups of boiling water. Allow the mushrooms to steep in the water for 15 minutes, then strain the tea through a fine mesh strainer.
Then, add some extras for flavor!
Honey is a no-brainer, to bring some sweetness to an otherwise earthy tea.
A sprinkle of cinnamon will turn the tea into a warm, cozy drink on a winter morning. A drizzle of maple syrup will take it to the next level.
Squeeze a bit of lemon and add a dash of ground ginger for a revitalizing and energizing tea.
The easiest and most effective way to enjoy Turkey Tail mushroom benefits is to use a supplement. These are created by drying out mushrooms, grinding them into a powder, and putting the powder in a capsule for easy ingestion.
There are a few things to consider before buying your supplements.
Mushroom or Mycelium?
First, make sure the supplements are made with actual Turkey Tail mushrooms, and not just mycelium. Mycelium is essentially just the mushroom’s roots and grown on grain. When you get a supplement that doesn’t have a specific source of the mushroom, the odds are that it was grown on grain.
The potency is much lower when it’s grown on grain because it’s diluted.
Second, make sure you’re taking enough.
Before getting into specifics, remember that these are just recommendations. Don’t use this as specific medical advice; always talk to your trusted medical professional before adding supplements to your diet.
Researchers have found that 2,000mg of supplements per day should ensure you’re receiving the Turkey Tail mushroom benefits.
Real Mushroom’s supplements are made from hand-picked mushrooms. They’re non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan. They’re also tested by a third party to verify their purity and high quality!
Side Effects of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
If you’ve got a mushroom or mold allergy, it’s best to avoid these mushrooms in general.
Besides that, there are a few mild symptoms that have been reported, such as
- Darkened fingernails
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Skin rash
- Loss of appetite
- Flu or cold-like symptoms
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
These symptoms are fairly uncommon and shouldn’t dissuade you from investing in your health and wellness with these mushrooms.
There have been no major or serious side effects linked with ingesting Turkey Tail mushrooms. But again—consult with a trusted healthcare professional before adding any supplements to your diet.
Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits FAQs
Are there any other uses for Turkey Tail mushrooms?
Because of their ability to break down and eliminate potentially harmful things in soil or water, they’ve been used as a part of environmental remediation.
They can also act as a natural dye for fabrics. Depending on the type, amount, and length of time the fabric is left in the mushroom water, the resulting color can be anywhere from light yellow to dark brown.
Can I give these to my pet?
Believe it or not, Turkey Tail mushroom’s benefits extend to our furry friends, too. They can experience the same anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits we do!
A powdered supplement can be added to any dog food. Just give it a spritz of water to help it adhere to the food.
Are there any more lesser-known Turkey Tail mushroom benefits?
Yes! Turkey Tail mushroom benefits also cover your skin.
Some skincare companies are beginning to incorporate it into their products because it can help brighten your skin as well as keep it hydrated.
Wrapping up Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits
Truly, Turkey Tail mushroom benefits are too easy to incorporate into your diet to pass them up.
Whether you’re looking to boost your immune system, increase your energy, improve your gut health, or even fight cancer, Turkey Tail mushrooms are worth adding to your health and wellness routine.
Check out even more amazing fungi on our Mushroom page!
- About the Author
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Stephanie Lamberth is a writer who gained most of what she knows about gardening from summers spent on her family’s farm tending, picking, and storing the produce they grew.
Her family started and ran a thriving farm that fed hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the community with fresh, naturally grown produce. She learned the effort and the reward of growing your own food!
Stephanie now lives in Tennessee with her husband and three kids. Their schedules don’t allow for a large garden, but she loves incorporating herbs from their flowerbeds in her kitchen and using her knowledge to help others.
Stephanie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org