The turkey tail mushroom is a fascinating fungus that can be found in just about any forest in the world. Traditional medicinal practitioners have made use of it for centuries and now the modern medicinal world has gotten in on the action.
Here are 17 interesting facts about turkey tail mushrooms, how they can be taken to support your health and that of your pet, and why it’s so special.
Turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) are polypore fungi. They grow on dead or decaying trees and logs, especially oak and maple trees. They are most common in deciduous woodlands. They grow in temperate woods all over the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia.
A polypore is a kind of fungus with pores on the underside of the cap, as opposed to gills. The spores that the mushroom generates are in these pores. Many of the species, which often grow on wood, are known to be non-toxic and to have medicinal benefits.
Saprophytic mushrooms are ones that get their nourishment from decomposing dead organic matter like fallen trees, logs, and other plant matter. That’s why you’ll typically find turkey tail mushrooms growing on dead or decaying objects like logs or tree stumps. They digest organic material which releases the nutrients that the forest needs for future growth. Therefore, saprophytic mushrooms are crucial for the healthy ecology of forests.
There are 7 general traits that characterize turkey tail mushrooms:
The last trait is the most important one for identifying a true turkey tail mushroom from its lookalikes.
Want more details? We have a guide for helping you tell real turkey tail from false turkey tail or other polypores!
Sure they are, so long as you don’t mind your mushrooms leathery and hardly chewable. While turkey tail mushrooms are not toxic, and in fact have many compelling health-supporting properties, they are not exactly a culinary delight.
If you want to tap into the fantastic fungal compounds that make this mushroom so famous, you’ll have to extract them with lots of heat. You can do as the traditional medicine practitioners did and forage for turkey tail in your local forest, and then boil the heck out of the mushrooms to make tea.
However, if you want an easy and precise way to use turkey tail for its functional health benefits, you’re better off using a turkey tail supplement.
Nope. Unlike amanita mushrooms or psilocybin mushrooms, turkey tail mushrooms have no psychotropic compounds.
The turkey tail mushroom has become famous primarily for its positive impact on the immune system. Many of its naturally-occurring compounds are biomodulators. Biomodulators can regulate and modify the immune system and other biological functions in the body.
By fostering healthy cellular activity and balancing the immune system and inflammation responses, the compounds in turkey tail mushrooms can support the body's inherent capacity to heal and repair (1,2,3,4).
For a more complete list of the ways turkey tail mushrooms can support health and longevity, read this article.
There are a number of non-health-related uses for turkey tail mushrooms. Here are 4 examples:
The data is relatively limited and contradictory, but there is some evidence that turkey tail mushrooms may have an impact on estrogen levels.
Turkey tail mushrooms may have estrogen-like physiological actions, which may be advantageous for addressing menopausal symptoms. The production of estrogen in postmenopausal women was enhanced by an extract of turkey tail mushrooms in one clinical study. Therefore, it may be possible that turkey tail supplementation could reduce symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Some research, however, contends that turkey tail mushrooms may potentially have an anti-estrogenic impact that is advantageous for diseases that result from cell abnormalities.
Ultimately, more research is required to completely understand how turkey tail mushrooms affect the body's ability to balance hormones.
Yes, there are several compounds in turkey tail mushrooms that can have a positive effect on gut health (5,6,7).
The polysaccharides in turkey tail mushrooms have been demonstrated in studies to have prebiotic effects on the gut. Prebiotics are substances that support the development and activity of good bacteria in the stomach, which can enhance gut health and digestion.
Moreover, the beta-glucans and triterpenoids in turkey tail mushrooms have antioxidant properties and can help balance inflammatory responses in the body. Antioxidants can assist in protecting the gut lining from damage brought on by free radicals. Persistent inflammation in the gut can contribute to a range of digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
According to one study, taking a turkey tail mushroom extract supplement enhanced the composition of the gut microbiota and raised the number of helpful bacteria. In a different study, people with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel illness, discovered that turkey tail mushroom extract supplementation helped reduce symptoms and improved quality of life.
Although additional research is necessary to completely understand the effects of turkey tail mushrooms on gut health, the information that is now available points to the possibility that these mushrooms may be useful as a dietary supplement for enhancing digestion and balancing gut inflammation.
There is some indication that turkey tail mushrooms may help people lose weight, but further studies are required to substantiate these findings.
Turkey tail mushrooms may aid in weight loss and body fat reduction by enhancing insulin sensitivity, modulating gut microbiota, and increasing metabolism according to certain research (8,9).
To make a conclusion, more research on humans will be required as the studies that have been done thus far have primarily been done on animals and in vitro.
There is some evidence to support the idea that turkey tail mushroom supplementation may offer dogs and cats the same kinds of health advantages as those experienced by humans.
You can learn more about how turkey tail mushroom supplementation can support pet health in this article.
Supplements containing turkey tail mushrooms may cause adverse effects, just like any dietary supplement or prescription drug. Supplements containing turkey tail mushrooms are, however, usually harmless for most individuals.
The following are a few of the possible adverse effects of turkey tail mushroom supplementation:
It's crucial to remember that these negative effects are uncommon. However, it's wise to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements that contain turkey tail mushrooms.
As of yet, there is no proof that supplementing with turkey tail mushrooms harms the liver. In fact, certain research studies indicate that turkey tail mushrooms may have advantages for the health of the liver.
However, some supplements, especially those containing turkey tail mushroom, could be tainted with dangerous elements that might affect the liver. For instance, there have been instances of lower-quality supplements containing heavy metals or other harmful contaminants.
Therefore, it's important to select a turkey tail supplement from a high-quality, reputable brand that uses organic farming methods and rigorous product testing protocols. to reduce the risk of liver toxicity. Also, any supplement should be used in accordance with the stated dosage guidelines.
In general, it is easy to find turkey tail mushroom supplements online, in a health food store, or from a supplement merchant.
However, like other products in the supplement industry, quality varies widely from brand to brand. Some mushroom supplement companies have been known to produce misleading labels or adulterate the ingredients in their products.
There are 6 qualities you should look for when buying a turkey tail supplement product that will be safe and provide high levels of the beneficial compounds that will support your health:
To understand more about each of these qualities and why they matter, read our article “Finding the Best Turkey Tail Mushroom Supplement: A Buying Guide.”
1. Urushima, H., Kubota, Y., & Sumi, Y. (2008). Effect of Yunzhi (Coriolus versicolor) polysaccharide on the modulation of immune functions by murine splenocytes. Journal of medicinal food, 11(4), 643-648.
2. Wong, C. K., Bao, Y. X., Wong, E. L., Leung, P. C., & Fung, K. P. (2011). Immunomodulatory activities of Yunzhi and Danshen in post-treatment breast cancer patients. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 39(03), 259-267.
3. Zaidman, B. Z., Yassin, M., Mahajna, J., & Wasser, S. P. (2005). Medicinal mushroom modulators of molecular targets as cancer therapeutics. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 67(4), 453-468.
4. Choi, Y. H., Kim, G., Han, S. H., & Jeong, J. W. (2017). Immunomodulatory effects of Trametes versicolor mushroom and its fermented mycelia on LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages and the safety evaluation in BALB/c mice. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 208, 49-56.
5. Lee, S. Y., Lee, D. H., Chung, W. C., Han, S. Y., Jeong, Y. M., Moon, K. M., ... & Kim, K. M. (2017). Trametes versicolor extract modulates the gut microbiota composition in C57BL/6J mice. Biomedical Reports, 6(6), 633-638.
6. Ming, L. J., Yin, S., Zhang, J., & Zhou, J. F. (2019). Effects of Trametes versicolor polysaccharides on gut microbiota in mice with dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. Journal of food biochemistry, 43(8), e12991.
7. Dai, Z., Coker, O. O., Nakatsu, G., Wu, W. K. K., Zhao, L., Chen, Z., & Chan, F. K. L. (2020). Effect of a polysaccharide from Trametes versicolor on the gut microbiome of mice with colitis and its therapeutic effect on dysbiosis. Food & function, 11(6), 5069-5078.
8. Li, X., Chen, P., Zhang, P., Chang, Y., Cui, M., & Duan, J. (2019). Protein‐Bound β‐glucan from Coriolus Versicolor has Potential for Use Against Obesity. Molecular nutrition & food research, 63(7), 1801231.
9. Lo, H. C., Hsu, T. H., & Lee, C. H. (2020). Extracellular polysaccharopeptides from fermented Turkey Tail medicinal mushroom, Trametes versicolor (Agaricomycetes), mitigate oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia in rats with type 2 diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 22(5).
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