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Ultimate Guide to Turkey Tail: Health Benefits, Uses & Medicinal Research by antioxi

Ultimate Guide to Turkey Tail: Health Benefits & Uses

In the realm of functional mushrooms, one extraordinary contender stands out—the Turkey Tail mushroom. Traditional medicine has celebrated its virtues since ancient times, with documented use dating back to at least 3,000 BCE. 

While functional mushrooms like Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps have been gaining recognition for their health benefits, the Turkey Tail mushroom boasts unique attributes that set it apart. 

Beyond its medicinal prowess, the Turkey Tail mushroom has fascinating applications in the realms of art and craft. With the ability to produce natural dyes, ranging from delicate yellows to rich browns, and historical roles in papermaking, basket weaving, and woodblock printing, the Turkey Tail mushroom emerges not only as a health ally but also as a versatile and intriguing contributor to human creativity and craftsmanship.

In this article, we will uncover the fascinating history, delve into the scientific foundations of its health benefits, explore its varied applications, and provide guidance on selecting a high-quality Turkey Tail supplement. 

In This Article:

  1. What are Functional Mushrooms?
  2. What are Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
  3. The Science Behind the Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom: Two Key Compounds
  4. Health Benefits of Turkey Tail
  5. How to Buy a Good Quality Turkey Tail Supplement?
  6. Dose, Safety, Side Effects
  7. How to Take Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Health Support
  8. Turkey Tail for Pets
  9. Frequently Asked Questions

What are Functional Mushrooms?

Referred to as 'functional mushrooms' in the wellness community, these edible fungi boast a diverse range of bioactive compounds. Each type of functional mushroom possesses a unique bioactive profile, contributing to its ability to support specific bodily systems. Turkey tail mushrooms, in particular, stand out for their remarkable capacity to enhance the immune system, among other health benefits.

If you're familiar with functional mushrooms, you've likely encountered the term 'beta-glucans' or 'beta-D-glucans.' These polysaccharides play a crucial role in the immune-modulating effects of mushrooms. Test tube studies have demonstrated their ability to activate various immune cells, including monocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, neutrophils, macrophages, and dendritic cells [1].

Turkey Tail mushrooms are rich in beta-D-glucans, and they also harbour additional bio-compounds responsible for some of their distinct health-supporting properties, which we will explore in this article.

What are Turkey Tail Mushrooms?

Turkey tail, scientifically known as Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor, or Polyporus versicolor, derives its name from its distinct appearance, resembling flat, fan-shaped, multicoloured rings reminiscent of a turkey's tail. Alternatively referred to by its Chinese name, yún zhī (云芝), translating to "cloud fungus," or its Japanese name, kawaratake ("mushroom by the riverbank").

This fungus is a prevalent member of the basidiomycetes class. It commonly grows on logs, stumps, or deceased trunks of deciduous trees like oak or birch and certain conifers like fir and pine trees across North America, Asia, and Europe. Belonging to the white-rot fungus category, T. versicolor actively breaks down lignin in decomposing wood, leaving behind a soft, spongy cellulose. This decomposition process aids in returning nutrients to the soil, supporting the growth of other plants in the ecosystem.

Turkey being compared to Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushroom)

Trametes versicolor earns its well-deserved name as the Turkey Tail mushroom.

The Science Behind the Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom: Two Key Compounds

Turkey tail boasts a diverse array of primary and secondary compounds. Among the lesser-known medicinal components are secondary compounds like phenolic acids, flavonoids, and terpenoids. Remarkably, researchers have identified 38 distinct phenolic compounds in Turkey Tail, including well-researched and valuable ones like quercetin and baicalein, which are also found in various plants and herbs.

A prominent feature of Turkey Tail is its protein-bound polysaccharides, also referred to as polysaccharopeptides (PSPs). These naturally occurring protein-bound polysaccharides include two commercially isolated products known as PSP and PSK.

PSK, or polysaccharide-K, polysaccharide-Kureha, or krestin, is one of the available commercial products of PSP. Both PSP and PSK, with a molar mass of around 100 kDa, have demonstrated immune-stimulating effects in both preclinical and clinical studies. [2]

PSK

A well-known story suggests that the discovery of PSK can be attributed to a chemical engineer employed by Kureha Chemical Industry Co. The engineer, inspired by witnessing his neighbour experience improved health through the consumption of Turkey Tail mushroom tea, persuaded his employer to explore the potential healing properties of the mushroom.

The outcome is now part of history. PSK was isolated from the CM-101 strain of the Turkey Tail mushroom in 1971 and was later introduced into commercial use by Kureha Chemicals. In 1977, the Japanese Ministry of Health granted approval for the clinical application of PSK. Since then, extensive research has been conducted on PSK, particularly in the field of oncology, exploring its role in promoting immune system health in various scenarios. [3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] 

PSP

In the 1980s, Chinese scientists initiated extensive testing on numerous strains of T. versicolor, eventually opting for the COV-1 strain as their primary source. Professor Qing-yao Yang successfully extracted PSP from this strain, leading to its approval for clinical use by the Chinese government in 1987.

To date, more than 45 independent studies, encompassing both preclinical and clinical research on PSP, have been conducted. Additionally, the China State Food and Drug Administration has given its approval to 13 products derived from the Turkey Tail mushroom [2].

Both PSK and PSP fall under the category of biological response modifiers (BRMs). Functioning as non-specific immune supportive agents, they aim to restore equilibrium to the immune system without a specific target [10].

Considering the existence of over 120 strains of Turkey Tail mushrooms, it's important to note that not all PSPs are identical, as the term refers broadly to protein-bound polysaccharides [11]. Variations in molecular weight and structure can arise based on factors such as the strain, growth conditions, and extraction techniques [11].

Click here to learn more about PSP and PSK and why they are not available in the West.

Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushroom) growing on a decaying log

Turkey tail mushrooms thrive prolifically on decaying logs in natural settings. Over the centuries, various cultures have consistently turned to this mushroom as a reliable natural remedy.


Health Benefits of Turkey Tail

Practitioners of traditional medicine, particularly in Asian cultures, have incorporated Turkey Tail into their practices for thousands of years. Li ShiZhen's entry for yún zhī in the Bencao Gangmu (Compendium of Materia Medica) notes that regular consumption of this fungus was believed to offer health benefits and promote longevity.

Turkey tail has been traditionally used for various purposes, including detoxification, boosting energy, eliminating excess fluids, fortifying organs related to the immune system, and promoting the functioning of the liver, lungs, and spleen [11]. Additionally, it has been employed to address conditions like coughs, respiratory issues, haemorrhoids, and joint pain.

In modern conventional medicine, Turkey Tail has found application in supporting the immune systems of individuals with weakened immunity [12]. In vitro research indicates its potent antioxidant properties, suggesting potential DNA protection from free radical damage [11].

Read on to discover the prevalent contemporary uses of this nutritious mushroom.

Health Benefits At a Glance:

  1. Turkey Tail: Adaptogenic Mushrooms
  2. Turkey Tail Supports the Immune System
  3. Turkey Tail Promotes a Balanced Inflammatory Response
  4. Turkey Tail Safeguards DNA Integrity
  5. Turkey Tail Promotes Gut-Health
  6. Turkey Tail May Improve Liver Health
  7. Turkey Tail Boosts Athletic Performance & Fights Fatigue
  8. Turkey Tail Might Aid in Balancing Blood Sugar
  9. Turkey Tail May Combat Herpes
  10. Turkey Tail's Potential Against HIV
  11. Turkey Tail's Potential in Meniere’s Syndrome
  12. Turkey Tail and Cancer

Turkey Tail: Adaptogenic Mushrooms

It's evident that stress levels have surged, with the number of employees experiencing moderate to high stress. Year-on-year, this number has increased from 67% to 76%, reflecting a percentage increase of 13%. [13].

What makes this concerning is that episodes of stress can adversely impact various systems within our bodies. In such a scenario, the rise of functional mushrooms, including Turkey Tail mushrooms, becomes particularly relevant. 

Renowned for their adaptogenic properties, these mushrooms aid the body in adapting to different stressors, whether physical, biological, or chemical. Functioning as adaptogens, they interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to stabilise cortisol levels during stress and facilitate the restoration of balance in the body.

Turkey Tail Supports the Immune System

Functional mushrooms possess bioactive compounds that exert powerful immunostimulatory effects, with Turkey Tail standing out for its ability to enhance both the innate and adaptive immune responses—the body's primary and secondary defence mechanisms, respectively.

The innate response, inherent from birth and characterised as non-specific, involves chemical, physical, and cellular defences. In contrast, adaptive immunity is acquired and specific, facilitating the expansion of T and B lymphocytes, crucial components of this targeted defence.

Notably, preclinical studies have demonstrated that polysaccharides derived from Turkey Tail can effectively induce the proliferation of both T and B cells, suggesting a potentially safe avenue for boosting the immune response, particularly in individuals with compromised immunity. [14, 15, 16, 17]

The mushroom cell wall components like Beta-D glucans and chitin have complex interactions with our body's immune sensors, such as toll-like receptors (an “immune protein”), in the small intestine as the Turkey Tail cell walls are processed and pass through our body. [18]

Once the body recognizes fungal beta d glucans, a complex immune response takes place which in studies has shown to be able to assist in suppressing cancer and tumour cell growth. It can also lead to a greater immunity surveillance and antibody production that identify and target potentially pathogenic viruses and bacteria.

Expanding the scope, functional mushrooms, including Turkey Tail, may play a role in enhancing a third immune system referred to as trained innate immunity—an emerging concept in immunology [19]

Moreover, when combined with Reishi, another functional mushroom, Turkey Tail showcases even greater potential for supporting overall immune system function [20].

Turkey Tail Promotes a Balanced Inflammatory Response

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) encompass free radicals and by-products arising from cellular metabolism, including superoxide anion (O2•-), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and hydroxyl radical (•OH). These species are generated in response to various stimuli, such as exposure to external substances like ozone, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and industrial chemicals.

Reactive oxygen species play a crucial role as cell signalling mediators in normal biological processes. Maintaining a delicate balance between ROS and antioxidants is essential for cellular protection. Disruption of this balance can lead to an excess of ROS, known as oxidative stress.

Scientific studies emphasise the significance of avoiding oxidative stress and fostering a balanced inflammatory response for overall health, particularly in the ageing process.

There is speculation among researchers that Turkey Tail's impact on inflammatory responses may contribute to safeguarding the ageing brain. In a study involving mice with mild memory issues related to ageing, the concurrent use of Turkey Tail and Ginkgo biloba extract resulted in elevated levels of antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) in their brains. Additionally, the brain tissue exhibited reduced expression levels of specific inflammatory markers [21].

Turkey Tail Safeguards DNA Integrity

The detrimental impact of free radicals on DNA is noteworthy, as DNA is more susceptible to their damaging effects compared to other macromolecules. Findings from a study propose that extracts derived from Turkey Tail may possess activities conducive to DNA protection, potentially attributed to the elevated levels of phenolic compounds present in the mushroom. The precise mechanisms underlying these effects remain to be fully elucidated [11].

Turkey Tail Promotes Gut-Health

The increasing recognition that overall health is closely tied to gut health underscores the significance of the gut microbiota's composition, influencing various aspects from digestion to cognitive function.

Beta-glucans possess bonds resistant to human digestive enzymes, and large indigestible glycans cannot traverse the gut lining, remaining there until utilised or excreted [22].

This implies that beta-glucans could serve as potential prebiotics, influencing the health and composition of the gut microbiome [22, 23].

The polysaccharides in Turkey Tail may positively impact faecal microbiota composition. Research indicates that polysaccharide peptide (PSP) increased beneficial Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species while reducing potentially harmful ones. PSP also lowered the pH of the faecal microbiota, suggesting a mechanism through which PSP might guard against unwanted invaders [22].

In a randomised, open-label clinical trial, individuals in the PSP group exhibited notable and consistent changes in their intestinal microbiome composition, showcasing the prebiotic potential of PSP [24].

Moreover, the immunomodulatory properties and prebiotic activity of PSPs might also influence weight management, although human studies are yet to explore this theory [25, 26].

Turkey Tail May Improve Liver Health

The liver-supportive effects of Turkey Tail may stem from its antioxidant activities, particularly beneficial when dealing with certain chemicals and their potentially harmful metabolites that can impact the liver.

In animal studies focused on liver health, the hepatotoxin carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is frequently employed. This toxin generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a free radical known as trichloromethyl (CCl3-), both posing risks to the liver [27]. Findings from these studies suggest that polysaccharide peptide (PSP) could play a role in shielding the liver against CCl3- by modulating the immune response to this free radical. This modulation includes elevating levels of protective antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and glutathione (GSH) [28].

Among the polysaccharide peptides in Turkey Tail, one named PSP-1b1 exhibited hepatoprotective effects in mice [29]. Another study indicated that mice consuming PSP demonstrated lower levels of liver enzymes, indicating improved liver health [30].

Turkey Tail Boosts Athletic Performance & Fights Fatigue

In the pursuit of ways to reduce sports fatigue and enhance athletic performance, many researchers are exploring natural health products.

Functional mushrooms might not be the first consideration when discussing improvements in sports fatigue. However, studies involving animals indicate that Turkey Tail polysaccharide peptide (PSP) could contribute to increased pain thresholds and exhibit anti-fatigue properties [12, 31].

A particular study observed that mice receiving Turkey Tail extracts displayed enhanced forelimb grip strength and improved exercise tolerance compared to those without the supplementation [31].

Blood lactate plays a crucial role in providing energy for short, high-intensity exercise, and its measurement, along with ammonia levels, aids in evaluating an athlete's resistance to fatigue. The findings of the mentioned study suggest that Turkey Tail extracts may contribute to the reduction of blood lactate and ammonia levels post-exercise, indicating a potential to delay the onset of fatigue [31].

Click here to learn more about why Turkey Tail is the best mushroom to combat fatigue.

Turkey Tail Might Aid in Balancing Blood Sugar

Maintaining optimal health requires effective regulation of blood sugar levels. Glucose, or blood sugar, serves as the primary energy source for all cells. When there is an inadequate amount of sugar in the blood, cells lack the necessary energy, and excessive sugar levels can negatively impact blood vessels.

The equilibrium of blood sugar levels relies on two hormones: insulin, which reduces blood sugar by facilitating its transport from the blood to the cells, and glucagon, which elevates blood sugar by encouraging the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose. Preserving the body's sensitivity to insulin is crucial for achieving glucose homeostasis.

Animal studies indicate that polysaccharide peptides (PSPs) in Turkey Tail may play a role in supporting normal insulin sensitivity. This support contributes to maintaining blood glucose levels within a healthy range [32, 33, 34]. While these findings are promising, further clinical trials are necessary to validate these initial results observed in animals.

Turkey Tail May Combat Herpes

In the realm of viral infections, emerging research has shed light on the potential role of Turkey Tail mushrooms in combating the herpes simplex virus. A study investigated the treatment of recurrent genital herpes with Polysaccharide-K (PSK), a biological response modifier found in Turkey Tail mushrooms. The results indicated promising outcomes. Participants who received PSK exhibited positive responses, suggesting a potential therapeutic effect in mitigating the recurrence of genital herpes outbreaks [35].

Further supporting this notion, another study explored the in vitro inactivation of the herpes simplex virus by PSK. Conducted by Monma, Kawana, and Shimizu, the research demonstrated that PSK has the capacity to inactivate the herpes simplex virus in controlled laboratory conditions. Although this study focused on in vitro (outside the living organism) effects, the findings imply that PSK may possess antiviral properties against the herpes simplex virus, potentially disrupting its ability to replicate or infect cells [36].

While these studies provide intriguing insights into the potential benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms in combating herpes, it's important to note that further clinical research is warranted to validate these effects in human subjects. 

Turkey Tail's Potential Against HIV

Recent studies have shed light on the potential of Turkey Tail mushroom in combating Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). A study investigated a compound known as Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) derived from Turkey Tail, revealing its inhibitory effects on crucial HIV components, specifically the reverse transcriptase and protease enzymes [37]. 

Additionally, the biological response modifier Polysaccharide-K (PSK) has been studied for its inhibitory effects on reverse transcriptase, a key enzyme in the HIV life cycle [38]. These findings collectively point towards the intriguing possibility of utilising Turkey Tail and its derivatives as natural agents in the ongoing battle against HIV.

Turkey Tail's Potential in Meniere’s Syndrome

Meniere’s Disease is a condition characterised by neuroinflammation, and it poses challenges related to neurodegeneration.

One study explored the use of Turkey Tail as treatment for this disorder. The researchers aimed to understand the potential therapeutic intervention of Turkey Tail mushroom in mitigating neuroinflammation and preventing neurodegeneration associated with Meniere’s Disease [39].

The findings suggest that the nutritional qualities of Turkey Tail could offer a basis for considering it as a potential therapy for Meniere’s Disease. The study emphasises the need for further research to fully comprehend the specific mechanisms and compounds within Turkey Tail that contribute to its potential efficacy in addressing neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in the context of Meniere’s Disease.

Turkey Tail and Cancer

Turkey Tail has been mostly studied for its anti-cancer effects, with more than 40 clinical trials comprising over 180,000 patient volunteers with stomach, colorectal, oesophageal, and breast cancers.

Turkey Tail Could Improve Cancer Therapy Treatments

General Anti-Cancer Benefits:

Results have mostly demonstrated the mushroom’s anti-cancer benefits, including by means of immune status improvement in those who take Turkey Tail alongside chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy-only patients. [40] 

Furthermore, the patients taking Turkey Tail with chemotherapy also reported better quality of life, even in advanced cancers, and showed signs of reduced cancer therapy symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and decreased appetite. 

A 2011 study found that women who consumed Turkey Tail daily had fewer signs of abnormal cell division than those who did not consume it. [41]

The study indicates that some compounds in Turkey Tail mushrooms could provide some protection against abnormal cell division, which can lead to cancer.

Turkey Tail Helps Protect Healthy Cells from Cancer Therapy

Turkey tail extracts might also help with protecting the body's healthy cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Turkey Tail and Breast Cancer

Research on Turkey Tail's potential role in breast cancer treatment is yielding interesting findings. 

One study compared immunochemotherapy (which includes components like PSK) with traditional chemotherapy after surgery for breast cancer. The results showed that immunochemotherapy might have advantages as an additional treatment for breast cancer patients post-surgery. [42]

Another study explored the HLA antigen as a predictive factor for breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK. In simpler terms, it investigated whether certain markers could help predict the effectiveness of adding PSK to the treatment plan. The study found associations that suggest a potential benefit for specific groups of breast cancer patients. [43]

To sum it up, these studies suggest that Turkey Tail, particularly in the form of PSK, could be a valuable addition to post-surgery treatment for breast cancer to help prevent the cancer from returning.

Turkey Tail and Colorectal Cancer

Studies looking at Turkey Tail's role in colorectal cancer treatment show promising outcomes. In simple terms, Turkey Tail, specifically its component called PSK, seems to offer benefits for those who have had surgery for colorectal cancer.

One study analysed several controlled trials and found that adding PSK to the treatment plan may be advantageous for colorectal cancer patients post-surgery. [44]

Another randomised trial conducted, suggesting that using PSK as part of the treatment could be beneficial for colorectal cancer patients. [45]

In a different study, researchers explored a combination of PSK and another medication. The results indicated positive effects, reinforcing the idea that Turkey Tail, especially in the form of PSK, might be helpful alongside other treatments for colorectal cancer. [46]

These studies hint that Turkey Tail could be a valuable addition to the treatment strategies for those who have undergone colorectal cancer surgery. It's an exciting area of research that could potentially improve the way we approach colorectal cancer care.

Turkey Tail and Gastric Cancer

Research into the potential benefits of Turkey Tail, specifically its component called PSK, in treating gastric cancer after surgery has shown promising results.

Studies were carried out to see if giving PSK to patients who have undergone surgery to remove the gastric cancer, could help prevent the cancer from coming back. This extra treatment, called adjuvant immunochemotherapy, aims to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence after the main treatment (surgery). 

The results suggest that using immunochemotherapy like PSK after surgery might be beneficial in improving outcomes for patients with gastric cancer, lowering the chances of the cancer returning. [47, 48]

Turkey Tail and Leukaemia

Turkey Tail may have potential anti-leukaemia properties by promoting programmed cell death.

Studies explored Turkey Tail’s cytotoxic (cell-killing) activities on human leukaemia and lymphoma cells to observe whether it triggered apoptosis, a natural process of cell death. The findings suggest that Turkey Tail has the potential to inhibit the growth of leukaemia cells and induce programmed cell death, highlighting its possible role as a therapeutic agent in leukaemia treatment. [49, 50]

Turkey Tail and Lymphoma

In exploring the relationship between Turkey Tail and lymphoma, researchers have uncovered some promising insights into how Turkey Tail's active component, Protein-bound polysaccharide-K (PSK), interacts with the immune system and lymphoma cells.

In one study, it was discovered that PSK, found in Turkey Tail, has a direct impact on the immune system by enhancing the production of IgM antibodies. This finding suggests that Turkey Tail may play a role in strengthening the body's defence mechanisms by promoting the generation of antibodies. [51]

Another study focused on lymphoma cells and found that PSK induces apoptosis, a controlled form of cell death. This indicates that Turkey Tail might exhibit anti-cancer properties by encouraging the natural demise of lymphoma cells. [52]

Researchers have also observed that PSK enhances T cell immunity. This suggests that Turkey Tail might contribute to improving the body's ability to combat lymphoma induced by specific factors. [53]

An animal study conducted on mice revealed that Turkey Tail, through PSK, could potentially prevent the development of lymphoma in mice exposed to certain cancer-inducing factors. This points to a potential protective role of Turkey Tail against lymphoma. [54]

These findings collectively suggest that Turkey Tail, with its active component PSK, may have a positive influence on immune responses and could hold promise in combating lymphoma.

Turkey Tail and Lung Cancer

Research has explored how Turkey Tail might help in the context of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

In one study it was found that Polysaccharopeptide (PSP), found in Turkey Tail, could slow down the progression of advanced NSCLC. This suggests that incorporating Turkey Tail into the overall treatment plan might have a positive impact on the advancement of lung cancer. [55]

Another study investigated the use of polysaccharide-K (PSK) as an additional treatment after intensive radiotherapy in NSCLC patients. The results suggested potential benefits in influencing the outlook after radiotherapy, indicating that Turkey Tail could be a helpful addition to standard treatments. [56]

These studies hint at Turkey Tail being a potential supportive element that could affect the progression and outcomes of advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Turkey Tail and Ovarian Cancer

Turkey Tail's PSK (polysaccharide K) could be a valuable ally in the journey against ovarian cancer. From boosting immune responses to potentially enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy, the research hints at a promising avenue for ovarian cancer support.

Researchers conducted a pioneering study to understand how cimetidine (a drug used to reduce stomach acid production) and PSK influenced the production of interleukin-2, a crucial protein for immune responses, during chemotherapy for advanced ovarian cancer The results hinted at the potential of Turkey Tail to enhance the immune system during chemotherapy. [57]

Building on this, the same researchers explored how PSK influenced the immune response in ovarian cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The study focused on interleukin-2 production by peripheral lymphocytes, revealing insights into PSK's potential to modulate the immune response [58]. Peripheral lymphocytes, also known as peripheral blood lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell (lymphocyte) found in the bloodstream. They play a crucial role in the immune system, contributing to the body's defence against infections and other foreign substances. 

Furthermore, an in vitro study (a study conducted outside of a living organism) explored how PSK could enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy, specifically with the drug CDDP. This in vitro study pointed towards a potential synergy between PSK and chemotherapy, hinting at a more potent combined impact. [59]

Moving from lab dishes to living organisms, another study used mice to assess the anti-tumor effects of PSK. The study investigated how PSK could synergize with the chemotherapy drug CDDP, laying the groundwork for understanding its potential combined impact. [60]

In summary, these studies weave a narrative of hope, suggesting that Turkey Tail could offer promising insights for ovarian cancer treatment.

Turkey Tail and Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer, known for its challenges in treatment, has sparked hope through unconventional avenues. Recent studies have explored the potential benefits of incorporating Turkey Tail, specifically PSK (polysaccharide K), into pancreatic cancer management.

In cases where surgical removal of pancreatic cancer was not an option, a unique approach emerged. A combination of cisplatin, (a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat various types of cancer) PSK, and UFT (an oral chemotherapy drug) was administered. Surprisingly, this combined therapy showcased positive responses, offering a ray of hope for those dealing with unresectable pancreatic cancer. [61]

Digging deeper into the molecular level, another study investigated the interplay between PSK and a common chemotherapy drug, docetaxel. The findings highlighted that PSK, by inhibiting a cellular pathway called NF-kappaB, could potentially enhance the cell-killing effects of docetaxel. This suggests that Turkey Tail extract might amplify the effectiveness of standard chemotherapy in treating pancreatic cancer. [62]

In a more recent study, scientists delved into the impact of PSK on pancreatic cancer cells. The research revealed that PSK treatment led to an increase in the expression of p21 (WAF/Cip1), a protein with a crucial role in controlling cell growth. Moreover, PSK promoted apoptosis, a programmed cell death process, in pancreatic cancer cells. This implies that Turkey Tail might influence key cellular processes to halt the growth of pancreatic cancer cells and encourage their natural demise. [63]

These studies propose that Turkey Tail, either in combination with traditional chemotherapy or as a standalone treatment, could be a beacon of hope in the complex landscape of pancreatic cancer treatment. By influencing critical cellular pathways and enhancing the efficacy of standard treatments, Turkey Tail holds promise in unlocking new possibilities for pancreatic cancer patients.

Turkey Tail and Skin Cancer (Melanoma)

Turkey Tail may have a role in combating the metastasis of skin cancer. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer cells from the original (primary) tumour to other parts of the body, forming secondary tumours. The ability of cancer cells to metastasize is a significant factor influencing the severity and treatment approach for many types of cancer.

In a study exploring the potential benefits of PSK, researchers investigated its effect on B16-BL6 mouse melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. The findings suggested that PSK had an antimetastatic effect, meaning it showed promise in inhibiting the spread of melanoma cells. [64] 

This is a noteworthy result, indicating that Turkey Tail might have a role in combating the metastasis of skin cancer, offering a potential avenue for further exploration in melanoma treatment.

 

How to Buy a Good Quality Turkey Tail Supplement?

Choosing a good quality mushroom supplement can be a daunting task, as there are many options available in the market. However, there are a few key things to consider when selecting a high-quality mushroom supplement:

Fruiting Body vs. Mycelium

Quality control standards for functional mushroom products are currently lacking, highlighting the urgent need for systematic scientific verification of active compounds in these nutritional supplements. This is crucial for ensuring greater accountability regarding ingredient integrity and transparency.

When a product fails to specify the source of its Turkey Tail, there's a risk that it relies on mycelium (the fungal root structure) rather than the Turkey Tail mushroom (the actual fruiting body we see above the ground). Mycelium is cultivated on grain, and unfortunately, both the mycelium and the grain end up in the final supplement. This inclusion of grain not only dilutes the desirable medicinal properties of the Turkey Tail but also introduces unwanted components.

Functional mushroom products grown in North America often involve myceliated grain rather than the actual mushroom. To ensure the highest quality Turkey Tail mushroom supplement, it is advisable to choose products with an ingredients label indicating the use of only organic fruiting body, free from mycelium or grain contaminants.

Explore the notable distinctions between supplements crafted from mycelium and those derived from the fruiting body by clicking here.

Beta-Glucan Content

What is the Beta-Glucan Content?

Beta-glucans are the primary compounds responsible for the unique immune system-supporting function and other health benefits of Turkey Tail.

Many brands incorporate various starch, fillers, colorings, unnecessary additives, and other ingredients into their supplements, which offer no health benefits. Moreover, these additions suggest a low percentage of actual Turkey Tail extract in the product, resulting in a diminished concentration of beta-glucans (medicinal compounds) and, consequently, lower therapeutic potency.

To obtain the most potent and high-value functional fungi supplement, scrutinise the product label for specific beta-glucan content. To ensure the optimal quality of your Turkey Tail mushroom supplement, verify that the product specifies a beta-glucan concentration of at least 25%. This ensures you receive the full spectrum of health benefits associated with this mushroom.

Antioxi's Turkey Tail Extract boasts a beta-glucan content exceeding 30%, guaranteeing that you receive the necessary benefits.

Beta-Glucan Benefits Explained

Beta-glucans, the key compounds found in mushrooms, play a pivotal role in fostering immune support and various medicinal attributes.

Widely recognized as Biological Response Modifiers (BRMs) [65], beta-glucans function by modulating the immune system, adjusting its activity as needed. These modifiers have the capacity to enhance the immune response, leading to a more effective defence against infections. Conversely, they can also dampen an excessively active immune response by modulating anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Organically Certified

Opt for certified organic options as mushrooms tend to absorb pollutants from their surroundings. Mushrooms that are organically grown refer to mushrooms cultivated in a natural manner, devoid of herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.

Safety Tests

Heavy metals and pesticides tests are safety tests which will indicate whether mushrooms are safe to consume.

Extraction Method

Understanding the ingredients in your diet is crucial, especially when it comes to functional mushrooms and their quality. Opting for a low-quality mushroom supplement poses a risk to experiencing the full range of potential benefits, making your health a priority.

A key indicator of a high-quality functional mushroom product is its extraction from the mushroom (fruiting body) and using the appropriate method. Three commonly used extraction methods for functional mushrooms are hot water, alcohol, and dual extraction (involving both hot water and alcohol). 

The choice of the extraction method can impact the quality, and research indicates that not all methods are equally effective for every mushroom. Some methods may even remove medicinal constituents during the process. Therefore, it is crucial for supplement producers to understand which extraction method ensures maximum benefit and efficacy for their product.

Protein-bound polysaccharides (PSP) present in Turkey Tail are soluble in water, and the mushroom has minimal noteworthy non-water-soluble compounds. To maintain elevated beta-glucan levels, Antioxi employs the hot water extraction method.

To guarantee the top-notch quality of your Turkey Tail mushroom supplement, check whether the product has utilised a hot water extraction method.

Click the link below to learn more about what to look for when choosing a high-quality mushroom supplement. 

Learn More

 

Dose, Safety, Side Effects

Dose

General Health Maintenance:

For those incorporating mushrooms into their routine for overall health benefits, a suggested dose of 3g or 6 capsules is recommended. This non-treatment use aims to promote well-being and vitality.

Treatment-Targeted Use:

If you are utilising mushrooms as part of a treatment plan for a specific health condition, a suggested dose of 5g or 10 capsules is advised. This higher dose is intended to address targeted health concerns.

Flexible Dosage Regimen:

Whether you prefer splitting the dose throughout the day or taking it all at once, the choice is yours. For optimal absorption, it is recommended to consume mushrooms on an empty stomach. However, if you have a sensitive constitution, consider splitting the dose and taking it after a meal.

Why the Discrepancy in Recommended Doses?

You may have noticed that some mushroom distributors recommend lower doses, such as 1g. This is often as large companies typically suggest consulting with a health practitioner to ascertain the right dosage for individual health conditions, which can result in recommendations for lower quantities. However, our dosage recommendations are directly informed by clinical literature, enabling us to provide specific dosing instructions with a solid foundation in research.

Safety

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as individuals with underlying health conditions including mushroom allergy, should consult a healthcare practitioner before consuming Turkey Tail.

Medication Interactions

Turkey Tail  is generally well-tolerated; however, it has the potential to interact with certain chemotherapy medications.

Individuals undergoing cancer treatment should consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Turkey Tail into their regimen.

Individuals who are taking anti-diabetic medications should also consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Turkey Tail into their regimen.

If you have any concerns regarding the interaction between turkey tail and your medications, it's a good idea to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can offer you the most appropriate guidance.

Please bear in mind that the information we provide is for educational purposes and shouldn't be considered a replacement for professional medical advice. 

Your health and safety are important to us and we want to ensure all our customers use our products to their benefit, not detriment.

Side Effects

Turkey tail is generally well tolerated. Some people have reported experiencing mild symptoms such as:

  • Gastrointestinal upset (e.g., gas, bloating)
  • Heartburn
  • Heart palpitation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark-coloured stools
  • Constipation
  • Cold- or flu-like symptoms

When employed as part of cancer treatment alongside chemotherapy, individuals have reported side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. [66]

Nevertheless, it remains uncertain whether these side effects are specifically attributed to the consumption of Turkey Tail mushroom or are a result of the conventional cancer treatments administered. [67]

 

How to Take Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Health Support

Powders vs. Capsules

 

 

Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract by Antioxi

 

For those with a fast-paced lifestyle, intricate recipes might not be in the cards. That's precisely why Antioxi has crafted an Organic Turkey Tail Extract available in convenient capsule form. 

If you're a cooking enthusiast or favour the convenience of a powder, our Organic Turkey Tail Extract in powder form could be an ideal option for you. Our Turkey Tail can be seamlessly incorporated into smoothies, stews, coffee and all your other favourite meals and drinks. 

It's essential to note that there is no difference in potency between our powdered extracts and capsules. Our capsules contain the exact same powdered extract, guaranteeing uniform effectiveness throughout our product line. 

 

Turkey Tail for Pets

Turkey Tail has been extensively studied for its immune health boosting properties as well as impressive cancer fighting results.

With new research developing each day, Turkey Tail has become of great interest not just for humans but for pets too. 

Turkey Tail offers noteworthy health benefits for pets, including:

  • Improving and balancing immune health
  • Improving digestion 
  • Fighting inflammation with antioxidants
  • Helping control excessive yeast
  • Combating cancer
  • Improving the effectiveness of cancer treatments
  • Reducing side effects of chemotherapy

Give your furry friend the gift of optimal health with Antioxi's Turkey Tail for Pets. Our organic extract powder ensures that your pet receives comprehensive immune support, promoting their overall well-being. 

Click here to learn more about how Turkey Tail can support your pet’s health.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Mushrooms Organic?

All of our mushrooms have been organically sourced and certified.

Is It Safe To Consume Medicinal Mushrooms During Pregnancy or whilst Breastfeeding?

While medicinal mushrooms can offer some great benefits during pregnancy such as strengthening immune health, improving digestion and of course the much needed energy boost, there is unfortunately not yet enough information regarding studies during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding where we can confidently give advice.

The best would be to consult with your healthcare provider and/or midwife.

Can Children Use Medicinal Mushrooms?

Research regarding the use of medicinal mushrooms by children is still at its infancy. There is however an interesting study conducted in 2018 which investigated the effects of Reishi on immune system cells of 3-5 year olds. [69]

The study showed that Reishi increased immune system cell counts in the peripheral blood, which are crucial for defending against infections. The treatments were also well-tolerated and safe, with no abnormal increases in serum creatinine or hepatic aminotransferases. While the study shows promise in the safety and effectiveness of the use of medicinal mushrooms in children, we do always suggest consulting with your child's doctor prior to introducing anything new into their diet.

If you do get the go ahead we suggest reducing the diet to 1/4 of a dose for young children.

These findings suggest the need for more extended controlled clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms in preventing infections in children.

What is the difference between the Powder and Capsules?

There is no difference in terms of benefits. The only difference is preference of use.

What is the difference between using the 8 Mushroom Blend and using an individual mushroom?

Our 8-blend mushroom product is like an all-in-one health elixir. It's perfect for those seeking overall well-being, boosting digestion, or just looking for a daily health lift.

However, if you're using mushrooms as targeted support for a specific health concern, say, Lion's Mane for cognitive clarity or Reishi for stress relief, the individual route is your best bet.

Are There Any Allergy Precautions/Medication Interactions?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as individuals with underlying health conditions including mushroom allergy, should consult a healthcare practitioner before consuming Turkey Tail.

Turkey Tail  is generally well-tolerated; however, it has the potential to interact with certain chemotherapy medications.

Individuals undergoing cancer treatment should consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Turkey Tail  into their regimen.

Individuals who are taking anti-diabetic medications should also consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Turkey Tail into their regimen.

Which Mushroom Extraction do you use?

The optimal extraction method once again depends on the mushroom itself. Different methods are used to promote and dissolve the unique active ingredients in the mushroom extracts and hence create a high spectrum mushroom extract.

The 3 different extraction methods:

1. Alcohol (ethanol)

This extraction is used to draw out the fat-soluble compounds in the mushrooms, such as the adaptogenic terpenoids. 

2. Hot water

This extraction is used to extract the water-soluble compounds, the polysaccharides, and the immunomodulating Beta-D-glucans. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a potent mushroom extract.

3. Dual extraction

Dual extraction refers to a combination of water and alcohol extraction. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a mushroom where the active ingredients benefit from both alcohol and well as a water extract.

Hot water extraction works best for:

Cordyceps, Turkey Tail & Maitake

Double (alcohol & water) extraction works best for:

Lion's Mane, Reishi, Chaga

Do you use the Fruiting Body or Mycelium?

We use the Fruiting Body of Turkey Tail.

We have a helpful article here which explains the different mushroom parts. 

 

Resources

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Disclaimer

The information on this blog is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before using medicinal mushrooms, especially if you are on medication or have a health condition. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. Use at your own risk. Statements about health benefits have not been evaluated by regulatory authorities. By using this blog, you agree to this disclaimer.