Food & Nutrition

What is Turkey Tail & What Are The Benefits?

No, this isn’t actually a Turkey’s tail. This is a mushroom. Strange way to start a blog post but it needs to be said.

Turkey tail is one of the most appreciated beneficial mushrooms and supplements containing the fungi are taking health food shops and supplement businesses by storm. They have been consumed for centuries and are a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine – particularly to aid respiratory issues.

So, seeing as though mushroom extracts are everywhere, we thought we would do a little bit of digging into them and see if there is any truth behind the craze?


What is Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail is a disc-shaped mushroom that is found mostly in Asia and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years. The small, tough, braket fungus usually grows on dead hardwood and can be easily spotted living against the dark bark. If you’re from the UK then you can find them growing on rotting stumps and branches that have failed onto the ground. They come in a variety of colours so if you’re not sure what you’re picking up, be careful not take something similar that will make you sick.

The extract from the mushroom (known as Yun Zhi) in China has been used to treat respiratory conditions – today, you can find the mushroom in Coffee, supplements, teas and other ‘well being’ supplements.

The Benefits of Turkey tail

Some posts have as many as 10 benefits of turkey tail in their lineups- most of them seem to be clutching at straws or making up something completely random. So, we’ve distilled a few of the studies into two main categories as they are linked. Hopefully, it makes the benefits of the mushroom easier to understand.


Gut Health & Obesity

Lions Mane and Turkey Tail are best of friends for your tummy. They show evidence of aiding gut health and helping the culture of bacteria that live inside your stomach (very good for us). Turkey tail can aid in the protection of your stomach lining and can promote a healthier digestive system.

The main benefit of having a healthy ecosystem of bacteria in your stomach is that there is research to suggest that this can boost your immune system no end, and can measurably improve your wellbeing.

There is also listed research that suggests Turkey tail may be able to prevent obesity. The mushroom contains protein-bound beta-glucan (PBG) which again helps to regulate the balance of gut bacteria and has been shown to prevent weight gain in mice with a high-fat diet. Whether Turkey Tail can stop humans from gaining weight is almost completely untested, so it is as likely as unlikely. In saying that, eating a healthy balanced diet will help regulate your body weight naturally.



Reduces risk of Cancer & Immune System Booster

When I read anything that suggests it may prevent cancer I tend to ignore it. It is true that a healthy diet and good food can help to lower your risk of cancer, but there isn’t anything that can stop it completely. Cancer just doesn’t work that way.

The theory behind this is that the mushrooms contain polyaccharopeptides (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK) which both have been studied and found to slow the growth of cancerous cells. Specifically, the PSK compound is an approved adjuvant cancer treatment which gives huge weight to the idea that eating turkey tail could reduce your risk of cancer.

PSP has may have the ability to stimulate your Immune system and has been combined with other anti-cancer medications to enhance the treatment of cancer.

In essence, cancer is an issue within your immune system as it is a misfire of the cell, and the body has not functioned properly and the cell has not killed itself. As turkey tail can help to regulate the bacteria in the gut, and therefore boost your immune system you can easily assume that the mushroom can help your body function properly, rather than poorly. It is very well known that improving your general health and wellbeing can reduce instances of cancers, stress, and dysfunction and can clear up any issues you may have; including the skin.


What are the Risks of Turkey Tail

Other than the usual risks of having an allergy, there are surprisingly more adverse reactions to Turkey Tail than other beneficial mushrooms. Some have reported that they experience heartburn and nausea, constipation, chest pain and even fever (like a cold or a flu).

There is no real explanation to why there are risks to taking turkey tail, but we imagine that it is the same as any other food substance – some things make you feel a bit off. The best way to mitigate risk is to take a small amount before taking more.

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