Turkey Tail and its Top Benefits
We describe Turkey Tail as a master healer. While it’s well-known as a deeply regenerative adaptogen it doesn’t seem to attract the glory that medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and Lion’s Mane for instance do. Perhaps it’s because of its ubiquity, growing in abundance across the northern forest of the world including China, Siberia, Europe, the USA, and Canada. While this may be the case, we have an immense love for Turkey Tail and feel that it deserves its fair share of the limelight! We’ll dive into some of its incredible benefits in this post, so feel free to get comfy, sip on a comforting cup of Turkey Tail tea and read on.
Turkey Tail is an important part of forest ecology, recycling dead branches and fallen trees to release carbon in the form of energy and structural building blocks for other organisms to use perpetuating the cycle of life.
Visually striking to behold Trametes Versicolor (Turkey Tail’s scientific name) is easily distinguishable in the wild with few look-a-likes. The multi-coloured rings on top of the mushroom fruiting body (hence the term versicolor) resemble the coloured bands of a Turkey’s Tail. The term trametes is Latin for 'one that is thin' referring to the thin fruiting body of this bracket fungus. Similar to Reishi mushroom, Turkey Tail is a polypore, a type of mushroom that has no gills, instead on its underside is a network of tubes that serve as the delivery system for spores when they reproduce.
Turkey Tail is one of the most scientifically studied mushrooms on the planet, due to its ancient use as an immune system aid. Slightly sweet, and energetically warm, Turkey Tail has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to clear dampness, strengthen physique, increase energy, and support chronic illness by nourishing the spleen and life force energy qi.
Turkey Tail is perhaps the most highly regarded medicinal mushroom when it comes to immunomodulating potential. Immunomodulation relates to the immune system and refers to its regulation. Turkey Tail is thought to be able to balance the immune system by elevating it in cases of a weakened immune response, or on the other hand, dampen an over-active immune response.
The beta-d-glucans and triterpenes found in Turkey Tail provide its immunomodulating potential, activating and inhibiting certain types of immune cells. Particularly the compounds polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide krestin (PSK) have been widely studied for their immune support capacity. What’s incredible about PSK and PSP is their ability to regenerate white blood cells, and stimulate the creation of macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells, which are all essential for enabling the immune system to ward off pathogens and fight infection when they strike. Combined, these active compounds in Turkey Tail mushroom are thought to help elevate the immune response and work to regulate and support overall immune system health.
Turkey Tail is brimming with antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential in helping to reduce the degradation of our cells caused by oxidative stress. This process is taking place in cells moment by moment with the body replacing old cells with new to combat the free radicals that occur as a result of a range of factors like stress, pollution, sun exposure, inflammatory foods and exhaustion. Eating foods rich in antioxidants or supplementing with antioxidant compounds can support replenishment on a cellular level. Turkey Tail’s impressive array of antioxidants includes powerful flavonoids and more than 35 phenols. Phenol and flavonoid antioxidants have been found to promote immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds.
In the world of mushies, Turkey Tail’s ability to help restore the diversity and population of beneficial bacteria in the gut is beginning to be more widely recognised.
Turkey Tail Mushroom is a well-known source of prebiotics largely due to its unique PSP and PSK polysaccharopeptides. Prebiotics are fibres that feed and strengthen beneficial bacteria and help them flourish in your gut, promoting overall digestive health and adaptability.
A 2014 study set out to assess the prebiotic effects of polysaccharopeptide PSP from Turkey Tail and its impact on the intestinal microbiome. 24 healthy participants received a PSP Turkey Tail extract over a period of 8 weeks. The results showed clear and consistent changes to microbiome health and increases in ‘good’ bacteria, in line with Turkey Tail’s activity as a prebiotic.
A 2013 test-tube study mirrored these results finding a Turkey Tail extract to have modified the gut bacterial composition by increasing the population of beneficial strains of gut bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus while reducing potentially harmful bacteria Clostridium and Staphylococcus.
The Mushroom recently published an article on reproductive health and the use of mycotherapy. They noted that The Women’s Natural Health Clinic had been incorporating medicinal mushrooms into the healing protocols of patients since 2006, utilising the immunomodulating potential of mushrooms to help restore healthy immune function prior to conception. Turkey Tail was mentioned as one of the medicinal mushrooms that has been used in some cases to treat immune imbalances that can have an impact on a successful pregnancy.
What to look for in a Turkey Tail Extract
When choosing any Turkey Tail supplement it’s best to look for an extract that contains the fruiting body of the mushroom only. The majority of the research conducted on Turkey Tail and its compounds has been conducted on the fruiting body of the mushroom rather than the mycelium, with a 2012 study maintaining the active compound and antioxidant activity of Turkey Tail being strongest in the fruiting body and weakest in the mycelium. What's more, products that include the mushroom mycelium are grown on grain as opposed to wood. The mycelium becomes enmeshed within the grain which is then included in the final product, producing a diluted extract with a much lower mushroom content. The bottom line is to look for a Turkey Tail extract that contains 'fruiting body only.'
Inner Atlas Turkey Tail
We’ve worked hard to deliver what we believe are the most potent and pure medicinal mushrooms available in Australia. Our extracts, including Turkey Tail, contain mushroom fruiting body only. We don't include any mycelium, which is the root system of the mushroom. The fruiting body contains the highest level of beneficial compounds which is why we opt to use this component only so you can be sure you're getting 100% real mushrooms. What's more, we are one of the few companies that test our mushies for beta-D-glucans with the Megazyme testing method. Beta-d-glucans are largely responsible for making a medicinal mushroom, medicinal. As a result of our testing, we can guarantee that our Turkey Tail extract contains greater than 30% beta-D-glucans so you can be confident your mushies are active and potent.
Our Inner Atlas Turkey Tail is:
- Highly potent, containing greater than 30% beta-D-glucans.
- Certified USDA & EU Organic.
- Fruiting body only – 100% real mushrooms with no added fillers or mycelium.
- Semi-wild cultivated and wood-grown.
- Sourced from pristine di tao locations.
- Lab-tested for purity.