6 Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushrooms & Possible Side Effects

What Is A Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom that is otherwise known as Tramates versicolor or Coriolus versicolor or Polyporous versicolor. It is generally found growing on tree trunks. It has a disk-like appearance and a color similar to that of a turkey’s tail.

Turkey tail mushrooms are widely used in traditional medicine to treat several diseases and infections. It is only recently that researchers have started investigating some of its more potent health benefits (1).

Find out more about the health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms in the upcoming section.

Potential Health Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushrooms

1. Are Rich In Antioxidants

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Turkey tail mushrooms are rich in antioxidants like phenols and flavonoids that help reduce inflammation and improve your immune system (2). They also contain quercetin, an antioxidant known to improve mental health, reduce the risk of infections, and improve physical performance (3). Studies suggest that consuming antioxidant-rich foods may help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease (4).

2. Help Boost Immunity

Krestin (PSK) and polysaccharide peptides (PSP) are the immunity boosters found in these mushrooms. PSPs help activate immunity-boosting cells and PSK is known to possess immunomodulatory properties (5).

Studies suggest that PSPs might promote the growth of monocytes (a type of white blood cells). Monocytes help fight harmful infections and improve immunity (6).

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Turkey tail mushrooms may also help improve immune function in people with specific cancers and tumors. A study revealed that the PSK in turkey tail mushrooms may inhibit and suppress the growth of colon cancer cells (7). However, further research is required to prove its effectiveness in this regard.

In another mice study, regular treatment with turkey tail extracts was found to inhibit tumor growth and improve the chances of survival (8). Further studies are needed to test the mushroom’s effectiveness on humans.

3. May Improve The Efficacy Of Certain Cancer Treatments

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The PSK and PSP in turkey tail mushrooms, when supplemented with traditional cancer treatments, may help improve their efficacy (9), (10), (11).

In a study, patients with breast, colorectal, or gastric cancers experienced a 9% reduction in 5-year mortality when treated with turkey tail mushroom extracts combined with traditional treatment. Mortality reduction was higher in those also treated with turkey tail mushroom extracts than those treated with stand-alone chemotherapy (9).

In another study on gastric cancer patients, those treated with chemotherapy along with PSKs lived longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone (12).

Orally administered turkey tail mushroom extracts might help improve immune response among women with breast cancer. In a study, women who were given 6 to 9 grams of turkey tail extracts along with radiation therapy showed an increase in lymphocyte production (11).

4. May Improve Gut Health

Eating dried or fermented turkey tail mushrooms might improve your digestive health and promote the growth of good bacteria (1). Studies suggest that regularly consuming PSP extracts from turkey tail mushrooms may help modulate the composition of the human intestinal microbiome (13).

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Turkey tail mushroom extracts might also modify your gut’s microbiome to promote prebiotics. This, in turn, may help reduce the risk of staph infection and gastroenteritis. It might also help decrease your gut pH levels and increase the concentration of organic acids that improve gut health (14).

5. May Help Combat Human Papillomavirus

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Turkey mushroom extracts may help combat STDs like HPV. In a study, applying a gel containing turkey mushroom extracts was found to heal vaginal lesions caused by HPV (15).

Another study suggests that combining turkey mushroom extracts with extracts of reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) might be effective in treating HPV (16). However, more research is warranted in this regard.

6. May Improve Athletic Performance

Mice fed with turkey tail mushroom extracts exhibited better physical performance in comparison to mice not fed with the extract. In addition, mice fed with the extract had lower blood sugar levels post-exercise (17). However, further research is required to determine these effects in humans.

It is only recently that the health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms are being studied. With time, further medical and health benefits of these mushrooms will be discovered. Let us now understand how you can add these mushrooms to your diet.

How To Add Turkey Tail Mushrooms To Your Diet

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Turkey tail mushrooms can be added to your diet in various ways. One popular way of consuming it is by making tea. You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of dehydrated turkey mushroom
  • 5 cups of water
  • Sugar or honey for flavoring

The Process

  • Boil 5 cups of water along with the dehydrated mushrooms. Continue boiling until it is reduced to half.
  • Pour this liquid into a cup using a strainer.
  • Add sugar or honey and enjoy your tea.

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If dehydrated mushrooms are not available, you can use turkey tail mushroom powder instead. You can procure it from an online retailer or specialized organic stores.

You can also add this powder to your smoothies and milkshakes.

Turkey tail mushrooms are mostly medicinal and very little is known about their culinary use. But do they also pose any side effects? Let us understand more in the next section.

Possible Side Effects Of Eating Turkey Tail Mushrooms

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Turkey tail mushrooms are generally considered safe to consume. However, avoid them if you are generally allergic to mushrooms. Some of the other side effects include nausea, heartburn, and diarrhea. Some people may also notice pigmentation of their fingernails (18). If you have any pre-existing medical condition, it is advisable to consult your doctor before adding turkey tail mushrooms to your diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Turkey tail mushroom help with weight loss?

It may help. Turkey tail mushrooms contain probiotics that may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. It helps treat the leaky gut syndrome, which may also be helpful with weight loss. However, research is limited in this regard.

How long do the Turkey tail mushrooms take to work?

It may take six to eight hours to experience their effects and benefits.

Do Turkey tail mushrooms give you energy?

Yes. Turkey tail mushrooms can help improve energy levels by reprogramming energy metabolism (19).

Can you take Lion’s mane and Turkey tail mushrooms together?

Yes. Lion’s mane and Turkey tail mushrooms can be taken together.

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References

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About the Author: Tung Chi