Wild mushrooms have long been recognised as a culinary delight. But what if we told you that there’s a disease-fighting mushroom, which spurts out of dead logs, with colours so vivid that it looks like the tail feather of a turkey? Yep, you’d probably think we’re living in a fungi-fantasy. But research into the turkey tail mushroom benefits reveals it could offer a powerful boost of immunity, gut health and wellbeing.
Turkey tail (trametes versicolour) grows around the world, and it has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote wellbeing, vitality and longevity. This polypore mushroom hosts an array of swirling, earthy colours and has a pleasantly mild flavour.
But perhaps what turkey tail mushroom is most renowned for is it’s immune-boosting properties, which has caught the attention of doctors, scientists and nutritionists alike.
Let’s take a glance at some recent research into the benefits of turkey tail…
Turkey Tail Mushroom Can Reduce Inflammation
It’s widely understood that there is a link between inflammation and disease. But thankfully, the turkey tail mushroom offers a boost of antioxidants – which can lower oxidative stress and inflammation. More specifically, turkey tail hosts a high content of flavonoids, which are a group of antioxidants present in many fruits and vegetables.
In fact, they’re what give plants, fruits and vegetables their vibrant colours! But studies show these antioxidants do more than colour our world – they stimulate the release of protective compounds and reduce inflammation.
But reducing inflammation is not the only way turkey tail mushroom can prevent disease. It’s got some other cool tricks…
Turkey Tail Mushroom Is Antibacterial
It’s no secret that when your body comes into contact with harmful bacteria, your immune system can take a hit. Well, turkey tail might be able to lend a helping hand.
A test-tube study in 2016 tested the antibacterial activity of the turkey tail mushroom against Staphylococcus Aureus (a bacteria that commonly enters the body through a wound) and Salmonella Enterica (commonly associated with food poisoning).
Remarkably, turkey tail stopped the growth of these two bacteria in their tracks! Which is fantastic news for the food industry – as using turkey tail in food storage could help to reduce contamination. Further research needs to be done to understand the antibacterial activity in humans. Stay turkey-tail-tuned, folks.
Turkey Tail Mushroom To Aid Digestion
Did you know that the bacteria in your gut has a strong connection with your immune system? Yep, as Hippocrates (the father of medicine) said all those years ago “all disease begins in the gut.”
So, if you’re interested in eating your way to better health, turkey tail could be a great place to start. It’s rich in prebiotics, which work to help our microbiome. Put simply, our microbiome is an entire ecosystem of good bacteria living inside of us!
An 8-week study (on humans this time) found that consuming turkey tail supplements every day led to positive changes in the microbiome. What’s more, it suppressed the growth of some potentially nasty bacteria. As they say, a turkey tail a day can keep the doctor away (ok, nobody says that, but we really think they should).
Turkey Tail Mushroom Can Support Cancer Treatments
Did you know that for more than 30 years, Japan and China have been using turkey tail in combination with traditional cancer medicine? You see, chemotherapy causes a weakened immune system, but the polysaccharopeptides found in turkey tail are believed to strengthen the immune system and may help to counteract the negative effects of chemo.
There have been numerous studies in mice that show positive signs for turkey tail’s anti-cancer properties. Although, what we find particularly interesting is the recent research in humans that use turkey tail alongside traditional cancer treatment (such as chemo).
A study involving 9 breast cancer patients found that turkey tail increased the activity of natural killer cells (NK cells) – which are important for rejecting tumours. Another study compared the survival rates in cancer patients who used turkey tail. Of the randomised patients, they found an increase in 5-year survival rates for those that consumed turkey tail together with traditional cancer treatment.
Woah. We’ll just let that sink in.
But let’s make one thing perfectly clear: we're not saying turkey tail alone will cure cancer. Absolutely not. But these findings show the potential for turkey tail to boost immunity.
Risks & Side Effects Of Turkey Tail Mushroom
Here at Natura Mushrooms, we’re all about giving you the full story. Research to date shows that turkey tail mushroom is extremely safe, as few adverse effects have been reported. In some cases, subjects have experienced digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating. We always recommend speaking with your doctor before your start with any mushy supplement.
The Turkey Tail Takeaway
While most medicinal mushrooms have immune-boosting properties – you could say that the turkey tail mushy hits it out of the park. As one of the most researched and readily available medicinal mushrooms, turkey tail is becoming popular all around the world.
But remember, research still has a long way to go before we can make any definitive conclusions. In the mean time, think of turkey tail as a whopping boost of wellbeing, there to help your body do its thing.
Written by Shane and Ash, the scientists, mushrooms farmers and garden enthusiasts behind Natura Mushrooms.