Mushrooms are increasingly known for their medicinal properties, and one species that should never be overlooked is turkey tail mushrooms. Turkey tail mushrooms (also known as Trametes versicolor) is widely prevalent in the woods in the United States (1). It can be identified by the varied colors of its concentric rings, with its outer ring having the lightest color. Turkey tail mushrooms have demonstrated numerous immune-boosting benefits, and may help in treating cancer, improving gut health, and reducing obesity, among other functions (1).
Let’s dig further into this marvelous species that may have profound ways of enhancing one's health (1).
Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) are found in turkey tail mushrooms, and have demonstrated an important role in regulating immunity and inflammation by helping to increase white blood cells that fight infection (2). Krestin (PSK), also derived from turkey tail mushrooms, has been shown to play a similar role by activating certain white blood cells that specialize in protecting the body from bacteria and other harmful substances (3, 4).
Both PSP and PSK have been shown to have a potentially therapeutic role in cancer treatment, suggesting some uniquely strong turkey tail mushroom benefits (5 ,3). In fact, preclinical and clinical studies have proven that PSP has enhanced the quality of life––as well as survival––for patients suffering from cancer, hyperlipidemia, hepatitis, and other chronic diseases (5). China and Japan commonly combine PSP and PSK––along with other anticancer treatments––with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery because of their incredible ability to naturally support the immune system.
As antioxidants play an active role in protecting your cells against free radicals, turkey tail mushrooms contain an excellent amount of antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenols (6, 7). A 2015 study confirmed there results suggested turkey tail––along with polypore mushroom (T. gibbosa) and a fungal plant pathogen (T. hirsuta)––could be considered strong antigenotoxic agents contributing to strengthening and enhancing immune function, and removing toxins (7).
Another study found a sample of turkey tail to contain 38 different phenolic compounds, an impressive amount of phenolic acids in a water extract. This demonstrates the notable potential of turkey tail being a natural source of antioxidants and to be eventually used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in the form of food supplements or drug-like compounds (8).
Impressively, turkey tail mushrooms have consistently demonstrated effectiveness in assisting with cancer treatment (9). Please note that generally a medicinal mushroom should be considered a supplement to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, not a replacement.
One small phase 1 clinical trial gave breast cancer patients turkey tail mushrooms divided doses daily for 6 weeks after their recent radiotherapy completion, and findings show that up to 9 grams of Trametes versicolor per day is safe and tolerable in women with breast cancer post treatment. This may help immunocompromised breast cancer patients by improving their immune status following standard primary oncologic treatment (10).
As researchers continue to examine turkey tail mushroom treatments and extracts to treat or prevent certain kinds of cancer, turkey tail cannot replace the use of anticancer drugs.
There is an abundance of evidence suggesting medicinal mushrooms, especially turkey tail mushrooms, strongly benefit gut health (15). There is, relatedly, increasing awareness of the importance of a healthy gut microbiota in promoting a strong immune system (16).
In fact, the human digestive system contains over 100 trillion microorganisms (17). Finding balance in this complex system is a challenge, as well as a process constantly shaped from birth, and turkey tail mushrooms contain prebiotics that can help nourish the good bacteria (16).
In one randomized controlled trial, the effects of turkey tail mushrooms and amoxicillin were compared in the gut microbiota of 24 healthy individuals. Researchers found that turkey tail showed strong prebiotic activity and remained stable over time (18).
Some may not be aware, but there is some evidence that a protein-bound β-glucan (PBG) in turkey tail mushrooms may be an anti-obesity component.
One study in mice showed that PBG helped encourage growth of Akkermansia muciniphila, a bacterium in the human gut (19). Increased prevalence of the bacterium may improve overall gut microbiota, while also regulating metabolism, suggesting its plausible role in treating obesity.
In short, while more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, sufficient research has been completed to suggest strong immune-boosting effects from the mushroom (20). Studies repeatedly suggest that turkey tail mushrooms may improve gut health, immune function, and even assist in the treatment of various types of cancers.
If you're looking to take advantage of the myriad benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, check out our Turkey Tail Mushroom Supplement Recommendation. Then check back here on Advanced MycoTech for more mushroom news, tips, and updates.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Advanced MycoTech™ assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.
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