Side Effects of Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Turkey Tail mushrooms are growing in popularity as a natural booster for the immune system: improving digestive functionality and numerous other benefits. However, as with all-natural products, there are side effects of Turkey Tail mushrooms to be aware of.

Turkey tails are medicinal mushrooms often used by homeopaths and natural-healing practitioners to help fight tumors, improve chemotherapy response, and improve digestive system functioning.

While there haven’t been many identified side effects of ingesting turkey tail mushrooms, there are some important things to consider before buying it for yourself.

Determine The Dosage

As with all medications, the dosage should be reasonable and done under the guidance of a physician. Too much and you could have adverse reactions such as heartburn, constipation, cold and flu symptoms, a rash, or stomach pain.

Potential Turkey Tail Mushroom Side Effects

Here are some potential side effects that you should be aware of.


If you experience diarrhea after ingesting turkey tail mushrooms, we recommend either lowering the dosage or stopping your intake for two to three days. 

If you continue to struggle, there are a few tricks to help combat it:

Rice Water

Boil one cup of rice in two cups of water for about 10 minutes. The water should be cloudy. Strain the rice and drink the water once it’s cool. 

The rice releases starch into the water which helps bind to the stool in your gut, soothing your bowel movements.


Diarrhea can be caused by an imbalance in your gut. Probiotics could potentially help to restore this balance. 

You can get probiotics at any pharmacy, or eat some probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, miso soup, soft cheeses, or sour pickles.

Darkened Stools, Fingernails or Toenails

Should you notice a darkening of your stools or your nails, following consumption of turkey tail mushrooms, stop use immediately and contact your physician.

Gas and Bloating

Turkey tail mushrooms contain raffinose. Raffinose are large sugar molecules that the small intestine struggles to digest, so it passes undigested into the colon. 

Once there, it’s fermented by bacteria which releases gas, causing you to feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Side Effects of Turkey Tail Mushrooms


While not common, mushroom allergies do exist. Sometimes, you aren’t even aware that you have a mushroom allergy until you eat a mushroom or drink a turkey tail tea.

If you notice a tightening in your chest, watering eyes, coughing, or develop a rash, contact your physician immediately and stop taking the mushroom. 

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Not enough research has been conducted to determine whether turkey tail mushrooms are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. 

Raw mushrooms, in general, should be avoided as they often contain carcinogenic toxins. These could result in complications for the child later in life. 

Processed forms of turkey tail mushrooms (powdered, capsules, etc.,) are not backed by clear enough research to determine their safety.

The medical consensus is that if safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women is not thoroughly researched and rubber-stamped by a health authority, it’s best to avoid the substance.

During Chemotherapy

Turkey tail mushrooms have been highlighted for improving immune function in people with certain cancers. This is particularly valuable as the immune system is weakened by cancer cells as well as the potent effects of chemotherapy.

One in vitro study found that PSK (polysaccharopeptide) inhibits the growth and spread of cancer in the colon. 

Some people undergoing chemotherapy and taking turkey tail mushrooms have reported nausea, vomiting, liver problems, and low white blood cell counts. However, it’s unclear whether these side effects were caused by the chemotherapy or not.

It’s important to note that neither Turkey Tail nor other mushroom supplements or tinctures have been clinically proven as a viable alternative treatment for cancer. Turkey Tail works hand-in-hand with chemotherapy and not as a replacement for it.

Sourcing Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Supplements

You can source Turkey Tail supplements in holistic shops or pharmacies. The best mushroom tinctures or droppers will be more potent and bioavailable than the traditional whole mushrooms. With supplements, it also makes it easier to avoid the possibility of incorrectly picking your mushrooms.

If you prefer the “real deal,” you can easily find your own because they grow abundantly in wooded areas. You need to be absolutely sure you’re harvesting a turkey tail mushroom and not a similar-looking mushroom that could be toxic.

Telltale Identifiers 

There are 50 species of the Tramates family – the Coriolus Versicolor (turkey tail) being one of them. Its two closest doppelgangers are the violet-toothed polypore (Trichaptum biforme) and the false turkey tail (Stereum ostrea). Be sure to identify your turkey tail mushrooms correctly.

Three identifiers set the turkey tail apart from other mushrooms.


Do not consume mushrooms that you are unsure of their origin or species.

Pores On The Underside

Turkey Tail Mushroom Pores

Turkey tails have pores on the underside, as opposed to the gills that other mushrooms have. The false turkey tail has a smooth underside. These pores are small and barely visible. 


Turkey tails are covered in tiny hairs and have a velvety feel. Other mushrooms of the same family are smooth.

Concentric Color Zones

Turkey Tail Mushroom Concentric Color Zones

You will see distinct color zones on turkey tails. Some lookalikes have colors that blend into each other and aren’t clear. Turkey tail mushrooms are generally grey or white, brown, or reddish-brown.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms FAQ

Key Takeaways

There are very few documented side effects to turkey tail mushrooms, which make them an attractive option for many.
The mushroom hasn’t been approved by the FDA as a treatment for cancer, or any other medical condition. The benefits of turkey tail mushrooms can be worth adding Trametes Versicolor to your diet.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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