What are Turkey Tail mushrooms and why are they important?
Turkey Tail mushroom is one of the most widely studied mushrooms in today’s world. It is also one of the most abundant fungi as it has been found on every continent except Antarctica. When you spot these striped polypore mushrooms in the wild, you’ll be drawn in by their endless bands of color, ranging from white and brown to blue and gray. Polypores are different from the traditional cap and stem mushrooms you might be used to seeing at the grocery store. Polypore fungi are a type of fungi that form large fruiting bodies with pores or tubes on the underside. They do not have gills like some other more common species of fungi. They truly look like the plumes of a wild turkey when they are proudly spread wide. This Turkey Tail 101 blog will fill you in on the basics of this anything-but-basic mushroom — and share some facts about Turkey Tail benefits.
If you want to find these beauties the next time you’re out on a hike, here are some good nuggets of knowledge to take with you!
- Turkey Tail are native to Europe, Asia and North America, so you may be able to spot some on your next hike or trail run depending on where you live!
- Brightly colored and usually found in clusters of fuzzy fans, Turkey Tail grows on a variety of hardwood deciduous trees.
- Its Latin name is Trametes versicolor (but also formally known as Coriolus versicolor in some countries).
- Turkey Tail’s species name ‘versicolor’ translates to “changeable in color” or “of a variety of colors.”
- Trametes translates to “one who is thin,” so this really is a clever name for Turkey Tail and something to remember when looking at how thick they are.
- Turkey Tail is a polypore mushroom meaning they hold their spores in tubes rather than the gills that you might have seen in some more common culinary mushrooms.
- If you do indeed find some Turkey Tail when you are foraging you will need to extract this mushroom to consume it (and reap all the Turkey Tail mushroom health benefits*). Unfortunately, you can’t eat them as they are too tough to chew and aren’t as tasty as some other culinary varieties.
- The swirling, cloudlike lines of the fan-shaped mushrooms inspired their Chinese name, Yun Zhi, which means “cloud mushroom. “
- In Japanese, Turkey Tail mushroom is known as kawaritake, or “mushroom by the river bank.”
- Turkey Tail happens to be one of the 10 mushrooms in our Mushroom Mix Daily 10 Tincture.*
What beneficial compounds are in Turkey Tail?
Turkey Tail contains two specific powerful polysaccharides that have garnered great attention, PSP (polysaccharide peptide) and PSK (polysaccharide Krestin).* PSK and PSP both help promote a healthy immune system.* Studies have found that PSK may support the immune system, including T cells that serve as a bridge between the innate and adaptive immune functions.*
Turkey Tail and other mushrooms contain plenty of prebiotic fiber which may support healthy flora that resides within our digestive tract.* Since so much of your immune system lives in your gut, Turkey Tail may support them both.*
Turkey Tail also has adaptogenic qualities which help the body adapt to occasional stress. Adaptogens are a group of plants, herbs, and fungi that support the body in maintaining a sense of homeostasis. A good way to think of the support that adaptogens provide the body is to think of how ‘cruise control’ supports the car while it is in motion; it accelerates when it’s trying to maintain a certain speed, and slows down when there is another vehicle in front. Adaptogens literally adapt and support what your body needs to keep it at a constant ‘speed’.
What are the benefits of using Turkey Tail mushrooms?
Turkey Tail mushroom has been used in China as far back as the Ming Dynasty, which began in the 14th century. Back then, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Herbalism used Turkey Tail in their practices for supporting overall well being. It was traditionally used to support the immune system and liver health, as well as supporting the upper respiratory, digestive and urinary tract.*
Turkey Tail Benefits:
Gut Health and Digestive Support*
Consuming Turkey Tail mushrooms can support your gut health and digestive tract.* Turkey Tail mushrooms contain prebiotic fiber which feeds and supports the healthy flora in your digestive system.* Much of your immune system resides in your gut, so by supporting healthy flora in your gut, Turkey Tail mushrooms also support your immune system, helping you stay balanced and healthy.*
Turkey tail has been shown to be a potent mushroom for supporting the immune system. In addition to the 1,3/1,6 beta-glucans, turkey tail contains other unique compounds that have been shown to support healthy immune responses.*
Ways to enjoy Turkey Tail Mushrooms / How to use Turkey Tail Mushrooms
In Traditional Chinese Herbalism, Turkey Tail is usually consumed as a tea (which is one of the simplest types of herbal extractions). However, in today’s modern world you can consume Turkey Tail mushroom in a variety of ways.
Turkey Tail Tinctures:
Turkey Tail tinctures are an extremely easy way to incorporate the functional mushroom into busy lifestyles. Tinctures are a concentrated extract that has gone through an extraction process to produce a potent supplement. Two droppers can be taken directly under the tongue (or more if you would like) or they can be added to beverages of your choice. Always make sure if you are choosing to go with a tincture that it is ‘dual-extracted’ and made with Turkey Tail fruiting bodies. Fruiting bodies are the actual part of the mushroom that grows above the ground. A simple way to think about fruiting bodies is to think about shopping for mushrooms at the grocery store. When you buy cremini’s or portobellos you are buying the fruiting bodies. You want to steer clear of any tincture that lists ‘mycelium on grain’ or ‘mycelia’ as those are the underground roots of the mushroom. You would never want to buy those for your next stir fry right? Well you also really don’t want them in your Turkey Tail supplements as they are essentially filler.
The importance of having a ‘dual extracted’ tincture ensures that you are receiving all of the beneficial compounds that the Turkey Tail has to offer.* Certain compounds are alcohol soluble whereas others are water soluble; therefore, a dual process that goes through alcohol and water is done to make sure that all of the beneficial compounds are extracted.
Turkey Tail Capsules and Powders:
Turkey Tail capsules and powders are probably the most popular way to consume the functional mushroom. Capsules are great if you already have a supplement routine with other capsules. Many of us are used to taking capsules, so it might be a very simple addition to your routine.
Turkey Tail powders may be a good choice for those that like to be adventurous with their smoothies, coffee, and other beverages! Turkey Tail powders are easy to mix into liquids and great to add into recipes for a little extra support!* All you have to do is measure out the recommended amount of powder and vigorously stir or blend it into your favorite beverage of choice!
Turkey Tail Drinks and Recipes:
While Turkey may be delicious to eat, Turkey Tail mushrooms are too tough to gobble up (sorry we couldn’t help that Turkey Tail pun). To get all of the important, active compounds out of Turkey Tail mushrooms, some herbalism practitioners brew the mushroom into a tea.
If teas aren’t your thing then check out our nourishing vegan broth recipe made with Turkey Tail mushroom.
When to take Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Because Turkey Tail is considered to be an adaptogen it can be incorporated into your routine at any time that feels most supportive to you! It will support your body throughout the day regardless of the time of day that you decide to take it. That is the best thing about functional mushrooms; you can easily incorporate them into your already busy routine with ease. Because Turkey Tail may support gut health you might consider taking a little extra if you feel like you need a little extra support for digestion.
What to look for in Turkey Tail mushroom supplements
Here are our three tips when it comes to sourcing Turkey Tail supplements:
- Make sure the supplement is made with Turkey Tail fruiting bodies. To break this down the fruiting body is the actual ‘above ground’ portion of the mushroom. In this case the fruiting body would be the beautiful multi-color fan like fungi that you see in the images above. The mycelium are the ‘roots’ of the mushroom; we like to think of this as the underground network doing the behind the scenes work. The amount of beneficial compounds in Turkey Tail mushrooms are much higher in the fruiting bodies than in the mycelium.Many companies produce products with mycelium or mycelium on grain because it is cheaper for them but those products are less effective. If you look at a product and you see the words ‘mycelia’ or ‘mycelium on grain’ then the product is not made with 100% fruiting bodies and won’t have as strong an effect.
- If you are choosing a tincture product make sure that it is ‘dual-extracted’. It is very important as a consumer to understand the method used to create your supplement. We recommend looking for mushroom tinctures that are produced using a ‘dual-extraction’ method because it ensures that you are getting a supplement that contains all of the beneficial compounds. This method uses both water and alcohol in a two part process to ensure a more potent product. Certain beneficial compounds can only be extracted through alcohol, and others through water, which is why a dual extraction is so important. At Mushroom Revival we use a dual extraction method for all of our tinctures which ensures you are getting the most potent Turkey Tail supplement around.
- We recommend only purchasing a Turkey Tail supplement that is 100% USDA certified organic. Because Turkey Tail is widely available it is relatively easy to source 100% USDA certified organic Turkey Tail. This ensures that you are only getting the good stuff. At Mushroom Revival all of our products are USDA certified organic and cGMP compliant.
Potential Side Effects of Turkey Tail Mushroom
Turkey Tail mushroom is considered safe in the world of functional mushroom supplements. As with any dietary supplement, consult your physician before incorporating Turkey Tail mushroom into your regimen as health benefits and side effects can vary. We are not doctors, and as always we encourage you to consult your primary health care provider for more information prior to consuming any supplement.*
To find out more about this special mushroom, click here!***