Turkey tail mushroom benefits are widely acknowledged and documented. These common mushrooms are considered to be a potent medicine by many alternative medicine practitioners and naturopaths.
What’s more, they are easily found growing on tree trunks and have been refashioned into dried as well as powdered versions for human consumption.
With these mushrooms being so readily available and popular, we think it’s time to give them a full investigation. In this article, we examine the various effects on turkey tail mushrooms, who can use them, and what they’ll do for you.
Turkey Tail Benefits
Turkey tail mushrooms are packed full of a type of polysaccharides called beta glucans. These compounds are present in most mushrooms and have been proven to support the immune system as well as boost individual cell health.
But turkey tails take it a step further. They contain two particular polysaccharides which are powerful immune system boosters – polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and Polysaccharide Kurcha (PSK).
PSP and PSK activate various immune cells which enhances immunity. This inhibits inflammation and causes the immune system to more actively target foreign bodies.
Some studies show that PSP increases monocytes – a type of white blood cell that fights infections. These cells actively seek out foreign cells, like viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections, that multiply and cause illness.
Because turkey tails build up the immune system, they’re known to help fight symptoms of the common cold and flu. Not only do you recover from illnesses faster, but the symptoms of those illnesses will be more manageable.
Turkey tail mushrooms are full of antioxidants that reduce damage caused by oxidative stress. This type of stress is caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, which leads to chronic inflammation and cellular damage.
This, in turn, leads to a higher risk of developing chronic and often terminal conditions like heart disease and cancer.
The primary antioxidants in turkey tail mushrooms are phenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants release protective compounds that promote immune system health.
Studies into turkey tail’s protective compounds are also progressing. Turkey tails have been found to contain compounds that help to repair damaged DNA – something that happens in the natural course of life through aging.
A review of 13 studies showed that patients given between 1 and 3.6g of turkey tail a day had an increased survival rate as opposed to those who did not consume the mushroom.
There was also a positive effect on the 5-year survival rate of patients with breast, colorectal, and gastric cancer being treated with chemotherapy.
A further eight studies in over 8,000 people with various stomach cancers showed that patients given PSK alongside chemotherapy lived longer after surgery than the control.
Bear in mind that the PSK given to these patients was synthesized and not as a turkey tail.
One laboratory study published in the International Journal of Sciences suggested that PSP may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the colon. Not only did it slow the rate at which the cells multiplied, but it also prevented the cancer from metastasizing into other areas.
PSK from turkey tail mushrooms was also found to be an effective treatment supplement for people with colorectal or other forms of intestinal cancer when combined with chemotherapy.
Not much research has been done into the effects of turkey tail mushrooms and patients with breast cancer. One small study tested nine participants with stages one, two, and three breast cancer were given turkey tail extract alongside radiation and chemotherapy.
Test results concluded that the immune system displayed increased levels of cancer-fighting cells.
Turkey tail mushrooms are rich in prebiotics. These are essentially fuel for your gut microbiome (the system of microorganisms that live in our gut), which feed on them. More healthy fuel for your gut biome means healthier digestion and increased nutrient absorption.
The mycelium in mushrooms helps with better digestion, working hand in hand with the prebiotics to support the growth of the “good” bacteria such as acidophilus and bifidobacterium.
Healthy levels of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus are responsible for the improvement of intestinal symptoms like diarrhea. It’s also been shown to lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
An eight-week study of 24 healthy people consuming PSP extract daily displayed positive changes in their gut bacteria. Harmful bacteria like E. Coli and Shigella were also noted to decrease.
Other Potential Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that affects over 80% of sexually active adults at some point in their lives. Most people aren’t even aware that they’ve contracted the disease. While the symptoms are mild, HPV is linked with an increased risk of cervical cancer later in life.
One study of 61 people with HPV revealed that 88% had positive results when including turkey tail mushrooms in their diet.
Improve Insulin Resistance
A study conducted on rats given turkey tail extract demonstrated improved insulin resistance and reduced blood sugar levels.
It should be said that the digestive system of rats is vastly different from that of humans, so we can’t necessarily expect the same results. Animal studies merely suggest that an effect might exist, not that it does.
Turkey tail mushrooms are showing impressive health benefits for consumers. With this increase in interest by the medical and scientific community, an increasing number of studies are being put into motion.
In the meantime, this non-toxic and safe-to-consume mushroom can be found in many health stores and can give your immune and digestive systems a boost. There are some potential side effects of turkey tail mushrooms so always consult a doctor before adding a supplement to your diet.