Turkey Tail, The Must-Have Medicinal Mushroom From Ancient Times and Now Again

Posted by J&K at APN on Sep 12, 2020

The Must-Have Medicinal Mushroom for your home Apothecary

From being an essential ingredient in the ancient Chinese medicinal tea to being part of the modern-day Los Angeles coffee, this mushroom has managed to stay relevant for over 3000 years.

Meet the king of medicinal mushrooms – Turkey Tail Mushroom.

Curiously named, turkey tail benefits the human body in so many ways that it almost sounds mythical. Thankfully, there is undeniable scientific research and an overwhelming number of accounts that document its success in medicinal applications. In fact, the FDA approved a $5.4 million study by Bastyr University, Washington, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to understand how Turkey tail mushroom benefits the body.

Here is everything you need to know about Turkey Tail Mushroom.

Getting to Know the Mushroom

Why is it Named Turkey Tail?

The mushroom has many names depending on which part of the world you are from. In China, they are called the cloud fungus or Yun Zhi. In Japan, where the fungus is also hugely popular, it is called Kawaratake or the roof tile fungus.

The interesting name – turkey tail – comes from the typical appearance of the mushroom. The mushroom is thin, flat, and shows concentric bands of different colors – brown, red, gray, blue, and black. The pattern and the colors look like the tail of a turkey and hence, its common name.

The scientific name of the mushroom is Trametes versicolor. It loosely translates to thin and diversely colored. It also goes by the Latin names Polyporus versicolor and Coriolus versicolor.

How to Identify the Mushroom in the Wild?

The mushroom is flat with colorful concentric circles. Many times, the mushroom may also appear greenish due to the growth of algae. The flesh of the mushroom can be 3mm thick and leathery. But, as the mushroom grows old, the skin can become more inflexible.

The mushroom belongs to the Family Polyporaceae. Like Turkey Tail, most members of this Family have a fertile layer on the underside. There are approximately 1-3 pore/mm.

The best part is that there are no poisonous similar-looking mushrooms. It makes it really convenient to forage for your own mushroom kit.

Where is it Found?

These mushrooms are relatively easy to find in forests all across the globe, including the USA. They grow on hardwood trunks and even dead logs in the jungle. They may also be found on conifer tree branches.

The top dollar that these Turkey Tail mushrooms demand in the open market is not the function of their availability; they are available in abundance. It is the long list of Turkey tail benefits that builds its value.

Understanding Its Benefits

Turkey tail mushroom benefits the body to fight a wide range of conditions. Here is why it is an important ingredient in a medicinal mushroom growing kit.

Improves Survival Rates in Cancer Patients

There has been a body of research dedicated to understanding how cancer treatments can be improved by mushrooms, in general, and by Trametes versicolor, in particular. The mushroom encourages the production of soluble proteins called cytokines, which are responsible for the immune response at a cellular level. Cellular immunity is at the center of the treatment in cancer patients. Compounds that increase cellular immunity by increasing the production of cytokines like IFN-ƴ are desirable. Treametes versicolor increases IFN-ƴ production.

Strengthens the Immune System

Turkey tail mushroom contains Polysaccharide Peptide and Polysaccharide Krestin. Both are instrumental in boosting the immune response of the body.

  • PSP: Studies have shown that they increase the production of monocytes. The PSPs have a targeted impact on these white blood cells and modulating the immune response. It makes turkey tail mushroom a potent candidate for relief from tumors.
  • PSK: Research into the effect of PSK has shown that they assist the action of dendritic cells. So, PSK plays a role in protecting the body from foreign bodies like bacteria and the toxins released by them.

Protects Against HPV

Randomized trials have shown that Turkey tail mushroom benefits patients in the treatment of Human Papillomavirus infections. The study found that patients who received the mushroom treatment showed 88% clearance of the virus as compared to 5% in the control group. Turkey tail mushroom provides a simple and cost-effective treatment for the infection.

Encourages Healthy Microbiome

There are thousands, if not more, products on the market today that offer a solution to gut problems using probiotics. Turkey tail mushrooms provide a natural, organic, and convenient solution to maintain good gut health. Its prebiotic properties stem from PSP. Different studies have found that not only does the mushroom suppress the growth of harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus, it also promotes the growth of good bacteria like Lactobacillus.

Helps Manage Oxidative Stress

Turkey tail mushroom is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and phenols. Lack of antioxidants can lead to an increase in free radical count in the body. Such an increase can cause many health issues, including cardiac issues, decreased immune response, skin problems, and more.

You Need Turkey Tail Mushroom in Your Life and Mushroom kit

The thought of adding the mushroom powder to your morning coffee or post-workout smoothie may be unsavory to some people. But, for thousands of years, therapeutic mushroom powders have been a part of the ancient medicinal arsenals, and the Turkey Tail Mushroom has a special place in every medicinal mushroom kit since then. Science is now only discovering – Why.