Turkey tail, also known by its scientific names Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor, or Polyporus versicolor, gets its name from its appearance: flat, fan-shaped, multicolored rings of the mushroom that look much like — you guessed it — a turkey’s tail. Similarly, you may hear the mushroom referred to by its Chinese name, yún zhī (云芝) which translate to “cloud fungus”, or its Japanese name, kawaratake (“mushroom by the riverbank”).
T. versicolor is a common fungal species of the basidiomycetes class, found growing on logs, stumps, or dead trunks of deciduous trees (e.g., oak or birch) and some conifers (e.g., fir and pine trees) in North America, Asia, and Europe
Traditional medicine practitioners, particularly those in Asia, have used turkey tail for millennia. A few of the traditional uses for turkey tail include: removing toxins, increasing energy, removing excessive fluid, strengthening the organs responsible for the immune system, and supporting liver, lung and spleen function. Some conditions that benefit from turkey tail use can include coughs, breathing difficulties, hemorrhoids and joint pain. In conventional medicine, turkey tail has been used to support the immune systems of people with weakened immunity. Research conducted in vitro suggests turkey tail has strong antioxidant properties and may protect DNA from free radical damage.
Turkey tail mushrooms are adaptogen. As their name suggests, adaptogens help the body adapt to the various types of stressors we may come across. This includes physical, biological, or chemical stressors.
Turkey tail mushrooms are known to support the immune system.
Bioactive compounds in functional mushrooms can have potent immunostimulatory effects. Turkey tail enhances both the innate and adaptive immune response, the body’s first and second lines of defense, respectively. We are all born with the innate response, also called a non-specific immune response. This type consists of chemical, physical, and cellular defenses. Adaptive immunity is acquired and specific. This type of defense allows for the expansion of certain types of white blood cells, the T and B lymphocytes. Preclinical studies show that polysaccharides from turkey tail can induce proliferation of both T and B cells. These findings suggest that turkey tail supplementation is a safe way to heighten the immune response in people with weakened immunity. Functional mushrooms may also enhance a third immune system known as trained innate immunity, an emerging concept in immunology.
Research shows that avoiding oxidative stress and supporting a healthy inflammation response are two of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy body, especially as you age.
Some scientists think turkey tail’s effect on inflammatory responses can even help protect the brain as it ages. When used in conjunction with a Ginkgo biloba extract, mice with mild memory problems associated with aging had elevated levels of antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) in their brains. Their brain tissue also had lower expression levels of certain inflammatory markers.
Free radicals can also be harmful to your DNA, which is more sensitive to their damaging effects than other macromolecules are. Results of one study suggest that extracts from T. versicolor may have activities that can protect DNA, possibly due to the high levels of phenolic compounds in the mushroom. The underlying mechanisms of these effects are not yet clear
Many researchers are turning to natural health products to find potential ways to help decrease sports fatigue and improve athletic ability.
Improvements in sports fatigue might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about functional mushrooms. However, animal studies have found that turkey tail polysaccharide peptide (PSP) may enhance pain thresholds and have anti-fatigue activity.
†These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your General Practitioner. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
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