Turkey Tail Mushroom

Turkey Tail Mushroom

What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?

First, it is hard to ignore just how strikingly beautiful Turkey Tail mushrooms are.  The common name derives from the banded appearance of a wild turkey’s tail when fanned out in full display.  The species is known by several scientific names, including Coriolus versicolor, Trametes versicolor, and Polyporus versicolor.

These mushrooms grow in tiled layers or in groups or rows on fallen logs and stumps of deciduous trees in heavily wooded areas.  The mushroom is all fruiting body, there is no stalk.  They are plentiful in various parts of the world, including the United States.

As a raw mushroom, Turkey Tail is considered inedible due to its leathery, chewy texture, which makes it virtually impossible to chew and swallow. In addition, Turkey Tail has a strong, earthy flavor.  It is typically consumed as a powder, tea, or extract.

In ancient Japanese culture Turkey Tail was called the “cloud mushroom” and its use is said to date back to the Han Dynasty in 200 B.C.  In Chinese herbal medicine Turkey Tail mushroom has long been used to fight infections and support immune function.

What is Turkey Tail mushroom good for?

Turkey Tail mushrooms really pack a punch in the arena of nutritional benefits.  They are loaded with antioxidants which reduce what is known as “oxidative stress.”  Oxidative stress is a cause of cell damage and chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer and heart disease.  Eating foods rich in antioxidants, like Turkey Tail, can decrease your chance of illness.

The compounds found in Turkey Tail are also known to promote gut health.  Having a healthy colony of bacteria in the gut is vital to overall health.  Turkey Tail mushroom may help keep the right balance of gut bacteria.  The compounds and fiber found in Turkey Tail have prebiotic abilities that help the gut regulate that balance.  Prebiotics are a specific type of fiber that act as a food source for healthy bacteria in the gut.

A healthy gut means that the body can more readily absorb key nutrients such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, reducing the risk and severity of digestive illnesses such as IBS, colitis, and Crohn’s disease. In addition, gut health helps to increase overall energy, moderate glucose metabolism, and promote healthy weight loss, all of which can help prevent or reduce the severity of diabetes.

There is limited research suggesting a compound found in Turkey Tail mushrooms called Protein-bound Beta-Glucan (PBG) can help prevent obesity.  PBG has been found to help prevent weight gain in mice that ate a high fat diet.

How does Turkey Tail Mushroom help my immune system?

Turkey tail mushroom contains two beneficial compounds called Polysaccharide-K, also known as PSK or krestin, and Polysaccharopeptide, also known as PSP.  In Japan, PSK is considered safe and approved for clinical use as an adjuvant therapy for cancer.  That means it is given in addition to primary or initial cancer therapy to maximize its effectiveness.

PSP and PSK have been studied in clinical research in people with various cancers and immune deficiencies

These compounds appear to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and some evidence suggests that PSP may also have the ability to stimulate the immune system, especially when combined with other cancer treatments.  In summary, medical research of the effects of PSP has been focused on cytokine release, especially on the potential of PSP to activate natural killer (NK) cells.

Who should not take Turkey Tail mushroom?

Turkey Tail is a fungus, meaning people with mushroom or mold allergies should not use it as a dietary supplement.  Although research has not identified other severe side effects associated with turkey tail, milder side effects could include heartburn, constipation, nausea, chest pain, or symptoms that are similar to having a cold or the flu.

Although Turkey Tail mushroom extracts have been studied and found useful alongside traditional cancer therapy, Turkey Tail mushroom is not a cancer treatment by itself, or an approved cancer medicine in the United States. Because there is no research on the safety of Turkey Tail for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the safest option for those women is to avoid use.

Tree of Life Botanicals Products with Turkey Tail:

TOLB Immunity


1 “Turkey tail and polysaccharide-K. In: Medicinal Mushrooms”. National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2021.

Huaiqian Dou; others (2019). Glycans and glycosaminoglycans as clinical biomarkers and therapeutics – Part B. In: Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science, Trametes versicolor – an overview : Ed.: Lijuan Zhang. Vol. 163. Elsevier Inc. pp. 1–533. Retrieved 10 February 2021.

“Turkey tail”. Drugs.com. 21 October 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2021.

“Coriolus versicolor”. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY. 2021. Retrieved 8 February 2021.

Habtemariam, S (25 May 2020). “Trametes versicolor (Synn. Coriolus versicolor). Polysaccharides in cancer therapy: targets and efficacy”. Biomedicines. 8 (5): 135. doi:10.3390/biomedicines8050135. ISSN 2227-9059. PMC 7277906. PMID 32466253.

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5592279/ Immunomodulatory Properties of Coriolus versicolor: The Role of Polysaccharopeptide Mohammad H. Saleh,1,2,† Iran Rashedi,2 and Armand Keating1,2,*

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