turkey tail mushroom benefits

Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits

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Last modified on January 23rd, 2023

Turkey tail mushroom benefits and therapeutic effects are extensive. This is a supplement that I take every day, as does my husband.

We use Host Defense, and I’ll talk about and recommend a couple of other brands below in the “Shop This Post” section. Turkey tail mushroom benefits include improving the immune system, helping combat certain types of cancer, improving the efficacy of some cancer treatments, and improving gut health. Turkey tail mushroom is an absolute powerhouse among medicinal mushrooms.

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What Are Turkey Tail Mushrooms?

Turkey tail mushrooms are fungi that grow on trees and trunks that are fallen in heavily wooded areas. These mushrooms grow widely across North America, and they have a shape like a disc with varying colors that looks like a turkey’s tail feathers, thus the name.

These mushrooms are also known as Trametes Versicolor and Coriolus Versicolor.

These mushrooms have long been used medicinally for their health benefits, including in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Eastern medicine, where the extract is used for conditions affecting the respiratory system.

Turkey tail mushroom benefits focus primarily on its effects on the immune system.

Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Below, we highlight some of the turkey tail mushroom benefits backed by research.

High in Antioxidants

Turkey tail mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. There are different types of antioxidants in turkey tail, including flavonoids and phenols. In one study, there were more than 35 phenolic compounds in a turkey tail mushroom extract and flavonoids quercetin and baicalein.

Phenols and flavonoid antioxidants promote the immune system’s health by reducing inflammation. These compounds can also stimulate the release of other protective compounds.

Immune Health

This mushroom contains something called polysaccharide peptides.

Two specific types of PSK and PSP. These are powerful boosters for immune system health. 

PSK and PSP work uniquely by activating and strengthening the immune response and preventing certain types of immune cells.

They also suppress inflammation.

In test-tube studies, PSP, for example, has been found to increase monocytes. Monocytes boost the immune and combat infection.

PSK stimulates dendritic cells, which act as an immune modulator. 

PSK also activates macrophages. Macrophages are specialized white blood cells providing protection against harmful things like some types of bacteria.

Because of the positive effects on the immune system, both PSP and PSK are used as anticancer treatments in Japan or China, often paired with traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.

Anticancer Properties

Research has uncovered the antitumor properties of these mushrooms, but this may be associated with the fact that the mushroom and its extracts can boost the immune system.

In a test-tube clinical study, PSK prevented the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells.

There’s also something called Coriolus Versicolor glucan or CVG that’s thought to have suppressing mechanisms on certain types of tumors.

In a study with dogs with hemangiosarcoma, a highly aggressive form of cancer, providing this mushroom extract significantly slowed the spread of cancer cells and improved survival times. In that study, dogs were given 45.5 mg per pound of body weight.

We’ll talk more about the benefits for cancer below.

Gut Health

Our gut health is tied to everything else that makes up our general sense of wellness, including our mental health and immune system health.

Maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria is essential for a robust immune system.

There’s a direct interaction between your gut bacteria and your immune cells.

Turkey tail mushroom benefits include improved gut health because it contains prebiotics. In a study of 24 people, consuming the extract led to positive gut bacteria changes and suppressed harmful bacteria growth.

In a test tube study, an extract changed the composition of gut bacteria. The turkey tail mushroom extract increased the populations of helpful and beneficial bacteria and reduced harmful bacteria.

Good gut health is linked to lower risks of certain types of cancer, a healthy immune system, and better digestion.

According to limited research, there’s also something in turkey tail called PBG that may help prevent obesity. In a mice study, PBC prevented weight gain in the animals consuming a high-fat diet. This may result from the effects of the mushrooms on gut bacteria.

Other Benefits

Some of the other reasons that turkey tail is one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms include benefits like:

  • Antibacterial qualities that may help prevent infection and illness
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Helps with insulin resistance
  • May reduce inflammation
  • In a study of people with HPV, 88% of treated participants had positive results like clearance of the HPV
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Turkey Tail Mushroom for Cancer

The benefits of turkey tail mushrooms for cancer are fascinating.

Some of the research currently available about the benefits for cancer include:

  • Breast cancer: In a 2008 study of breast cancer patients, the mushroom was proposed as an add-on immunotherapy that patients could take following traditional treatments like chemo or radiation. A 2012 study followed up on this, and it appeared that taking it daily by mouth improved immune status in women with breast cancer. 
  • Leukemia: In an in vitro study in 2013, turkey tail showed promising benefits for combatting leukemia. The researchers looked at a particular extract and used it alone or with reishi. The combination with reishi was incredibly potent, perhaps because the two mushrooms have different biological processes. The study found that these two mushrooms could potentially improve survival and quality of life in people with cancer, including leukemia.
  • Colon cancer: A 2019 study looked at a combination of turkey tail and maitake and found that the extracts stopped colon cancer cells from spreading. Researchers also found that the mix might help 5-fluorouracil work better, a drug often used to treat colorectal cancers.
  • Lung cancer: A 2015 review looking at 11 clinical trials and then another 17 preclinical studies found that using PSK from the mushroom had beneficial effects for patients with lung cancer who underwent radiation treatment to live longer. The extract also appeared to improve the patient’s progress, like their immune function, quality of life, and body weight.
  • Gastric cancer: A review of eight human studies that included more than 8,000 gastric cancer patients found that adding PSK for gastric cancer along with the mushroom had benefits. 

Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits for Skin

When used orally or topically, Turkey tail mushroom has some benefits for your beauty and anti-aging routine in addition to being helpful for a variety of health concerns. 

One reason there are benefits for the skin is because of the impact on gut health. The health of your digestion and gut microbiome is a significant factor in your skin health. Any gut problem can contribute to skin problems like acne, premature aging, or dermatitis.

Turkey tail is also an immune system modulator. When your immune system is overactive or too sensitive, it can cause inflammation and skin sensitivity.

If you use turkey tail topically, it can help with signs of aging on the skin, like wrinkles and sagging. These are often caused by oxidative stress, and turkey tail is a potent antioxidant. The antioxidants in turkey tail might also help lighten dark spots on the skin.

Quercetin, found in this mushroom, reduces inflammation, so it can help skin look less irritated, red, and puffy.

Turkey Tail Side Effects and Adverse Effects

Overall, turkey tail is considered a safe supplement. If you’re allergic to mushrooms, avoid any turkey tail supplement. There may be a few mild side effects associated with using turkey tail. One is digestive upset, which may include bloating, diarrhea, or gas. This should only be with substantial doses. If you follow the instructions for dosages from the manufacturer of the product you choose, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Another possible side effect is dark pigmentation of the fingernails.

Turkey Tail Extract Benefits for Dogs

Turkey tail mushroom is one of the most popular dog supplements. The benefits for dogs based on animal studies include:

  • These mushrooms can upregulate a dog’s immune system, which helps if it’s affected by cancer, stress, or a chronic illness.
  • Mushroom supplements for dogs can downregulate an inflammatory response or an overactive immune system.
  • Giving your dog a turkey tail supplement can help restore immune function if your dog has an autoimmune disease.

Many of the benefits for dogs are similar to those for humans. The mushroom compounds can directly interact with your dog’s immune cells.

The mushroom components can help activate a dog’s macrophages, which are responsible for destroying viruses, and bacteria and invading cancer cells.

Beta-glucans in mushrooms can also stimulate natural killer cells and T-leukocytes, which are part of a dog’s adaptive immune system.

Beta-glucans can enhance a dog’s immune response to cancer, increase antibody production and reduce inflammatory cytokines.

Some studies look at the benefits of turkey tail for cancer in dogs. In 2012, researchers looked at the effectiveness of these mushrooms in treating dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

Hemangiosarcoma is aggressive cancer that’s primarily found in the spleen. Even when a dog’s spleen is removed, the dog’s median survival rate is just 19 to 86 days.

In the study, dogs were given PSP from these mushrooms, and they all had a diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma. Dogs given PSP had significantly longer times to metastasis, and survival time increased in a dose-dependent way, meaning the larger the dose, the longer the survival time.

The survival time with no treatment was a median of 86 days. The survival time with a 50 mg per kg dose was 117 days. With a 100 mg per kg dose of turkey tail, the median survival time was 199 days.

Along with helping with cancer in dogs, it can protect against infectious diseases like canine flu and kennel cough.

These mushrooms can fight yeast, serve as an anti-fungal, and help with dogs’ digestive and urinary health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about this functional mushroom and what to generally know about taking them as a supplement.

Can you take turkey tail mushrooms every day?

Nothing indicates you can’t take these mushrooms every day. It’s considered a safe mushroom, and you can get the most benefits daily.

Does turkey tail have side effects?

For most adults, this type of mushroom is considered safe with minimal side effects. The mushroom has been thoroughly studied, and it’s frequently used in Asian countries in conjunction with conventional medicine.

If you were to take very high doses, side effects could include:

  • GI upset like bloating, nausea, and stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Symptoms of cold and flu
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low white blood cells
  • Rash

So who should not take it? The only contradicted group is people with allergies related to mushrooms. If you have a bleeding or clotting disorder or use blood thinners or anticoagulants, you should be careful with turkey tail because high doses can affect platelet counts.

People taking immunosuppressants for autoimmune diseases, cancer, or an organ or stem cell transplant should speak to their healthcare provider before trying turkey tail mushroom because it can change the medication levels in the blood.

Medications that can have potential interactions with turkey tail include:

  • Diabetes medicines—can affect blood sugar levels, so if you take diabetes medications and turkey tail simultaneously, your blood sugar could become too low.
  • Blood thinner—as mentioned, turkey tail can have blood thinning properties, and if you have a bleeding disorder, it could slow down your blood clotting.
  • Cyclophosphamide—the mushroom could affect how well this chemotherapy works.
  • Other chemotherapy—there is a lot of research looking at the benefits for cancer, including when used with chemo. Still, you should talk to your oncologist before you try any supplement when you’re receiving cancer treatment.

Is turkey tail mushroom good for gut health?

There are potential turkey tail benefits for gut health because the mushroom can help keep a balance of healthy gut bacteria. PSP from the mushroom also has prebiotic fiber benefits, and it helps with the regulation of gut bacteria.

What does turkey tail cure?

We’re not going to say turkey tail cures anything exactly, but according to research, some of the benefits and conditions it might help with include:

  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Certain types of cancer, such as breast and colon
  • Immune system disorders
  • Infections
  • HPV

What does turkey tail do for humans?

Some of the benefits of this medicinal mushroom for humans include:

  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Stimulates the release of protective compounds.
  • Increases monocytes that fight infection and improve immunity.
  • Protects against bacteria by activating macrophages.
  • Improve immune function in people with cancer.
  • May help fight cancer.
  • Better gut health.
  • Could help combat HPV.
  • Improved insulin resistance.
  • Better exercise performance.
  • Reduced fatigue.

What types of cancer does a turkey tail mushroom fight?

The mushroom isn’t a replacement for cancer treatment, nor should you use it if you have cancer without talking to your doctor. However, there is research to support its cancer-fighting properties.

The types of cancer with the most research related to the mushroom and its benefits include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Colon cancer
  • Lung cancer

Final Thoughts

Turkey tail mushroom benefits are enormous. This is one of the best medicinal mushrooms for cancer, immune function, and overall health and wellness. We do have to note that this isn’t medical advice, and it’s not a replacement for talking to your doctor.

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