Turkey Tail Mushroom benefits

Turkey Tail mushrooms, scientifically known as Trametes versicolor, are admired for their vibrant, wild turkey tail-like plumes and revered for their significant medicinal properties. This comprehensive guide delves into their historical significance, explores their role in contemporary medical research, and offers practical tips for identification and storage. In addition, it highlights their ecological importance in breaking down organic matter in forests worldwide and their ongoing study in both traditional and modern medicine.






What Is Turkey Tail Mushroom?

The Turkey Tail Mushroom is distinguished by its vibrant and multicolored appearance, reminiscent of a wild turkey's tail feathers. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, Turkey Tail mushrooms are known for their healing properties, which have been utilized in traditional medicine for centuries.

These mushrooms are commonly found on dead logs, stumps, and decomposing wood in forests worldwide. Their ability to decompose organic matter plays a vital role in forest ecosystems. In recent times, turkey tail mushrooms have attracted the attention of modern medical researchers, exploring their potential to support immune health and offer therapeutic benefits in various treatments.

Historical and Contemporary Uses of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Turkey Tail Mushroom has been a cornerstone in traditional medicine, especially in Asian cultures. People in China have used the Turkey Tail mushroom, traditionally known as 'Yun Zhi,' for centuries. In Japan, people refer to the Turkey Tail mushroom as 'Kawaratake.' It translates to 'mushroom by the riverbank.'

These cultures have long revered Turkey Tail for its purported immune-boosting and health-maintaining properties. In contemporary times, the interest in Turkey Tail has surged, particularly in modern medicine.

Mainly due to its rich composition of polysaccharides, including polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide-peptide (PSP), PSK, in particular, is approved by Japan's Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA) as an adjuvant for cancer therapy. Research is ongoing to explore its efficacy in supporting cancer treatment, improving immune response, and possibly aiding in the recovery of chemotherapy patients.

Turkey Tail mushrooms are gaining popularity in the wellness community as a dietary supplement. They are available in various forms, including powders, capsules, and teas. Manufacturers often market Turkey Tail mushrooms for their potential to support immune health, gut health, and overall well-being.

Polysaccharides in Turkey Tail Mushrooms: PSK and PSP

Scientific research is primarily interested in the Turkey Tail mushroom because of its rich composition of bioactive polysaccharides. It is particularly true in Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP). These compounds are at the forefront of research for their potential health benefits, especially in cancer treatment.

  • PSK (Polysaccharide Krestin): PSK is a notable compound extracted from Turkey Tail mushrooms. Its potential in oncology is particularly promising. Studies have shown that PSK can slow the growth of cancer cells. It helps the body's immune response against cancerous cells.

Notably, medical professionals in various clinical settings, especially in Japan, use PSK as a helper in cancer therapy. When combined with conventional treatments like chemotherapy, PSK may improve patient outcomes, including extending survival rates and reducing recurrence. It has led to its approval as a cancer treatment in Japan. Turkey Tail shows its significance in the field of oncology.

  • PSP (Polysaccharide Peptide): PSP is another crucial component in Turkey Tail mushrooms. This has also shown potential in supporting cancer treatment. Its mechanism primarily involves modulating the immune system.

    PSP activates specific immune cells, including natural killer cells and T-lymphocytes. This plays a role in the body's defense against tumors. PSP actively regulates inflammatory responses, playing a crucial role in controlling the progression and spread of cancer. The early results of the research show that PSP may be useful in combining cancer treatments, making them more effective.

    Both PSK and PSP showcase the potential of natural compounds in Turkey Tail mushrooms. They are particularly impactful in the realm of cancer treatment. Ongoing research continues to uncover the depth and breadth of their therapeutic applications, underscoring the mushroom's significance in traditional and modern medicinal practices.

    Turkey tail mushroom


    Dual Extraction of Turkey Tail Mushrooms

    An important method used in harnessing the complete medicinal properties of Turkey Tail mushrooms is dual extraction. This technique combines water and alcohol processing to extract a broader range of bioactive compounds. In the case of Turkey Tail mushrooms, this includes both water-soluble compounds like polysaccharides (such as PSK and PSP) and alcohol-soluble compounds.

    Dual extraction is crucial because some of the mushroom's beneficial components are only soluble in water, while others are only soluble in alcohol. By using both solvents, this method ensures a more comprehensive extraction of active ingredients. As a result, products made using dual extraction, such as powders or tinctures, often contain a richer profile of Turkey Tail's therapeutic compounds, enhancing their health benefits. This makes dual extraction a preferred method for creating potent Turkey Tail supplements.


    Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom 

    Turkey Tail mushroom's many benefits, ranging from traditional remedies to modern holistic approaches, have been well-documented. These benefits include:

    A Remedy for the Common Cold and Flu:

    Turkey Tail's polysaccharides, notably PSK and PSP, enhance the immune system. They activate immune cells like macrophages, natural killer cells, and T-lymphocytes, which are crucial in defending against pathogens such as cold and flu viruses.

    This activation helps the body mount a more robust response to these infections. It may shorten their duration and lessen their severity(2).

    Immune System Support:

    Rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenols, Turkey Tail strengthens the immune system. These antioxidants reduce inflammation and stimulate the body's defense mechanisms, thereby enhancing overall immune health and resilience against various diseases(4).

    Mushroom Cancer treatment:

    Turkey Tail contains PSK, which actively inhibits the growth of cancer cells, particularly in cases of colon cancer. Turkey Tail enhances the immune system's response to cancer cells, emerging as a valuable supplement in cancer patients. It offers potential support alongside conventional cancer therapies(1).

    Digestive and Gut Health Champion:

    Turkey Tail mushrooms are a source of prebiotics that nourish beneficial gut bacteria, essential for a balanced gut microbiome. This support not only improves digestive health but also bolsters the immune system. Considering the gut's significant role in immune function(5).


    Additional Health Benefits with More Detail:

    • Combatting HPV: Research has indicated that Turkey Tail can be beneficial for individuals with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections. A study published found that an extract of Turkey Tail mushroom significantly reduced HPV-related symptoms and lesions(3).
    • Antibacterial Qualities: Turkey Tail mushroom extracts have shown antibacterial activity against a range of harmful bacteria. Studies show Turkey Tail extracts exhibited antibacterial effects against Staphylococcus aureus, a common cause of bacterial infections(4).
    • Athletic Performance Boost: Some studies suggest that Turkey Tail may help reduce fatigue and improve endurance. A study found that athletes taking Turkey Tail extract experienced improved endurance and less fatigue. This is potentially because of its antioxidant properties(1).
    • Blood Sugar Regulation: Preliminary research indicates that Turkey Tail mushrooms may play a role in regulating blood sugar levels. Turkey Tail mushrooms have demonstrated effectiveness in managing glucose levels, offering potential benefits for individuals with diabetes. Studies reveal that these mushrooms actively contribute to regulating blood sugar. Making them a promising natural aid for diabetic management(5).
    • UTI Prevention: Research indicates that the immune-boosting properties of Turkey Tail mushrooms assist in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). Turkey Tail's ability to enhance the body's immune response may be effective in combating the bacteria that cause UTIs(3).
    • Cognitive Health: Turkey Tail's antioxidant properties potentially protect against cognitive decline by actively combating oxidative stress. Which may help reduce oxidative stress, a factor in age-related cognitive decline(7).

    Turkey Tail Mushroom growing in nature


    Where do Turkey Tail mushrooms grow:

    When considering Turkey Tail supplements, it's crucial to select high-quality products that have undergone rigorous testing. When selecting supplements, actively seek those verified by reputable third-party organizations like USP (United States Pharmacopeia), ConsumerLab, or NSF International. These certifications help ensure the product's purity, strength, and quality.

    Equally important is the ability to distinguish true Turkey Tail mushrooms from their lookalikes. The "false turkey tail" (Stereum ostrea) stands out as one of the most common imitators of the true Turkey Tail mushroom. Additionally, the multicolor gill polypore (Trametes betulina) is another species that closely resembles the Turkey Tail. To recognize the real Turkey Tail fungus, look for small holes on the bottom of its cap.

    These pores, which release spores, are a feature that the false turkey tail lacks, as it has a smooth underside. This distinction is crucial for anyone foraging for Turkey Tail mushrooms in the wild. Also useful knowledge when evaluating the quality of supplements.

    Identification and Storage of Turkey Tail Mushroom

    • Appearance: You can easily recognize Turkey Tail mushrooms by their distinctive fan-shaped and multicolored caps. These caps strikingly resemble the tail of a wild turkey, making them quite unique. They feature concentric bands of various colors, including brown, tan, blue, green, and occasionally orange hues.
    • Texture: The mushroom typically has a leathery, thin texture. Underneath, it features a white to light brown pore surface, which is key to its identification.
    • Size: The individual brackets of the mushroom usually range from 1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm) across.
    • Location: Commonly found on decaying hardwood logs and stumps, Turkey Tail mushrooms are especially prevalent during the cooler months.
    Turkey Tail False Lookalikes:
    It's important to accurately distinguish Turkey Tail mushrooms from similar species. The "false turkey tail mushroom" (Stereum ostrea) is one of the most common lookalikes. Another similar species is the multicolor gill polypore (Trametes betulina).

    You can identify the true Turkey Tail by the tiny pores on the underside of its cap. The false turkey tail does not possess this feature.

    Turkey Tail Mushroom



    Preparing and Storing Turkey Tail Mushrooms:

    After harvesting or purchasing Turkey Tail mushrooms, proper storage is essential to maintain their quality. Store dried Turkey Tail in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to maintain its potency and prevent spoilage.

    If you've gathered fresh Turkey Tail mushrooms, consider drying them as an effective method for long-term preservation. For immediate or short-term usage, refrigerating them is a viable option. Thoroughly drying the mushrooms before any form of storage is crucial to prevent mold and ensure their longevity.

    Fresh Storage: Store freshly harvested or purchased Turkey Tail mushrooms in a paper bag, then place them in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness. This method allows the mushrooms to breathe and prevents them from becoming slimy or moldy. For optimal quality, use them within a week.

    Drying: Drying is an effective way to preserve Turkey Tail mushrooms for extended periods. Gently clean them with a brush to remove any debris, then spread them out on a wire rack in a warm, dry area, away from direct sunlight. Once they are completely dry and brittle, store them in an airtight container, preserving their properties for several months.

    Freezing: Freezing is another viable option for long-term storage. Blanch the mushrooms briefly before freezing to preserve their texture and nutrients. After blanching, spread them on a baking sheet to freeze individually, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen Turkey Tail mushrooms can be stored for up to 12 months.

    Tinctures and Extracts: Creating tinctures or extracts is a popular method for long-term storage of Turkey Tail, offering a convenient way to use the mushroom's beneficial properties.

    Turkey Tail Powders and Dual Extraction: Turkey Tail can also be processed into extract powders using dual extraction methods. This process combines water and alcohol processing, ensuring the extraction of both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble compounds, like polysaccharides and triterpenes. Dual extraction captures more active ingredients from Turkey Tail, enhancing its health benefits. The powders are easy to use and can be added to various foods or drinks, offering an efficient way to consume Turkey Tail mushrooms for those seeking comprehensive medicinal benefits.



    Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) offer a fascinating blend of aesthetic appeal and medicinal potential. With a history rooted in traditional medicine and a growing presence in modern therapeutic research. These mushrooms have demonstrated significant promise, particularly in immune system support and cancer treatment.

    Their ease of identification and various storage methods make them accessible for both enthusiasts and professionals. Research continues to uncover the depths of Turkey Tail's benefits. It stands as a testament to the potential of natural remedies in contemporary health and wellness.

    Turkey Tail mushrooms serve holistic health purposes in teas, supplements, and medical treatments, offering a natural approach to wellness. They are valuable and interesting.

    Unearth More Mushroom Marvels



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    1. He Z, Lin J, He Y, Liu S. Polysaccharide-Peptide from Trametes versicolor: The Potential Medicine for Colorectal Cancer Treatment. Biomedicines. 2022 Nov 7;10(11):2841. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10112841. PMID: 36359361; PMCID: PMC9687461.

    2. Shi S, Yin L, Shen X, Dai Y, Wang J, Yin D, Zhang D, Pan X. β-Glucans from Trametes versicolor (L.) Lloyd Is Effective for Prevention of Influenza Virus Infection. Viruses. 2022 Jan 25;14(2):237. doi: 10.3390/v14020237. PMID: 35215831; PMCID: PMC8880503.

    3. Rokos T, Pribulova T, Kozubik E, Biringer K, Holubekova V, Kudela E. Exploring the Bioactive Mycocompounds (Fungal Compounds) of Selected Medicinal Mushrooms and Their Potentials against HPV Infection and Associated Cancer in Humans. Life (Basel). 2023 Jan 16;13(1):244. doi: 10.3390/life13010244. PMID: 36676192; PMCID: PMC9861011.

    4. Bains A, Chawla P. In vitro, bioactivity, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory efficacy of modified solvent evaporation assisted Trametes versicolor extract. 3 Biotech. 2020 Sep;10(9):404. doi: 10.1007/s13205-020-02397-w. Epub 2020 Aug 25. PMID: 32903990; PMCID: PMC7447717.

    5. Teng JF, Lee CH, Hsu TH, Lo HC. Potential activities and mechanisms of extracellular polysaccharopeptides from fermented Trametes versicolor on regulating glucose homeostasis in insulin-resistant HepG2 cells. PLoS One. 2018 Jul 19;13(7):e0201131. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201131. PMID: 30024975; PMCID: PMC6053205.

    6. Benson KF, Stamets P, Davis R, Nally R, Taylor A, Slater S, Jensen GS. The mycelium of the Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom and its fermented substrate each show potent and complementary immune activating properties in vitro. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Dec 2;19(1):342. doi: 10.1186/s12906-019-2681-7. PMID: 31791317; PMCID: PMC6889544.

    7. Janjušević L, Karaman M, Šibul F, Tommonaro G, Iodice C, Jakovljević D, Pejin B. The lignicolous fungus Trametes versicolor (L.) Lloyd (1920): a promising natural source of antiradical and AChE inhibitory agents. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2017 Dec;32(1):355-362. doi: 10.1080/14756366.2016.1252759. PMID: 28097907; PMCID: PMC6010034.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010034/




    Kalah Garcia Bio PictureKalah Garcia is dedicated to fostering whole-body wellness, actively working to enrich the lives of those she encounters. Her approach involves passionately writing articles on health and wellness, aiming to equip others with the knowledge and tools for improved well-being. Kalah's commitment is reflected in her eagerness to share insights and that make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

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