Unlocking the benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms!

Unlocking the benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms!

Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) are not just a marvel of nature with their vivid, multicolored fan shapes that resemble a turkey's tail; they are also a powerhouse of medicinal benefits. This blog goes into the scientific and therapeutic properties of Turkey Tail mushrooms, spotlighting their potential in enhancing health and combatting disease.

I take a Turkey Tail tincture daily that I dual-extracted myself from wild harvested mushroom. I ethically picked these (leave some for sporulation) with my friends at Barton Creek in Austin, TX. I even gave a Turkey Tail tea to my neighbor who was dealing with post-op cancer. My neighbor was having a pretty rough day and not feeling well. Once she consumed the Turkey Tail tea, most of the painful inflammation went away in 20 minutes, and she was able to comfortably relax for a few hours! And yes, I was given permission to share her personal experience. She is a better gardener than I will ever be!

So let's dive in to the potential uses and benefits of the mushroom you've walked past your whole life! These mushrooms can be found on almost every tree in the woods, sometimes you'll notice it as a white mold on tree bark. If you look around the tree you may find some mushrooms growing on the deadwood. Turkey tail is an easily distinguishable mushroom, but it is not edible. So most people make teas and tinctures with them for general consumption.


A Rich Source of Healing Compounds

Turkey Tail mushrooms are sought for their high content of polysaccharopeptides, particularly polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide-peptide (PSP), which have been extensively studied for their immune-boosting properties. Remember PSK for this blog, it is the star of the show! Polysaccharides are the most abundant carbohydrate found in foods, mushrooms have some very special types in them.

PSK, known as Krestin in Japan, has been used in cancer treatments to augment chemotherapy, showcasing its ability to improve 10 & 20-year survival rates and enhance immune responses. In December 2023, a peer-reviewed scientific journal was published by De Gruyter. The study details the use of Turkey Tail in recent studies and how they are able to work alongside traditional cancer treatments to support the immune system.

I like to look at the wood eater family of mushrooms " The Polypores" as the vultures of the woods. They clean out deadwood and transform it into workable soil for organisms on the forest floor. The Turkey Tail mushroom has even more interesting things than what we've already discussed. 

Entry and Distribution of PSK in the Body

Once ingested, PSK is absorbed through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The absorption process allows PSK to enter the bloodstream, where it can be distributed to various organs and tissues throughout the body. Research suggests that due to its molecular size and solubility, PSK is capable of passing through the intestinal barrier relatively efficiently, which is crucial for its systemic effects on the immune system.

PSK will enter the bloodstream via the intestinal lining, and be identified as an "invader cell". From there, it is taken straight to the Thyroid for processing. The Thyroid is able to further investigate this foreign invader and prompt the body's immune system to develop a plan to destroy the pathogen.

Cancer and Immune System Support

Turkey Tail has sometimes been called a tumoricidal mushroom, and it's extracts have demonstrated promising results in modulating the immune system and potentially reducing tumor growth.

Studies highlight PSK’s ability to work alongside chemotherapy to limit tumor progression and enhance the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments. Furthermore, the immune-modulating effects of PSP are noteworthy, as they help in revitalizing the immune system's ability to fight infections and disease.

In December 2020, UC San Diego conducted double-blind trials on 66 subjects. They used either Agarikon or Trametes Versicolor (FoTv) to treat COVID-19 positive outpatients. Each patient receives 8 capsules three times a day for 2 weeks (Gordon Saxe, University of California, San Diego). The findings of these trials have not been published yet and will likely result in additional larger studies.

UC San Diego cited a 2012 study that had examined the effects of Turkey Tail in breast cancer patients that detected increased lymphocyte counts and natural killer cell functional activity (Torkelson et al, 2012 and Benson et al, 2019). Both of those cells are responsible for destroying cancer cells pre-emptively. The important note here with the Breast cancer study is the similarities of the immune response to breast cancer as COVID-19. These similarities led UC San Diego to posturize that FoTv could also be used to treat COVID-19.


Table 1.  Mushrooms and Chemotherapeutic Agents

Chemotherapeutic Agent Indicated Mushroom Reference
Trastudzumab PSK (turkey tail) Lu et al, 2011b
Cyclophosphamide Reishi Zhu et al, 2007
Cisplatin Maitake, Cordyceps, reishi Masuda et al, 2009; Yao et al, 2012
Docetaxel PSK (turkey tail) Kinoshita et al, 2009; Wenner et al, 2012
Doxorubicin Agaricus Lee and Hong, 2011

Source: NIH


Beyond Oncology: Digestive Health and More

Turkey Tail mushrooms also contribute to gut health due to their prebiotic properties, which help nourish beneficial intestinal bacteria, crucial for maintaining a balanced gut microbiome. A 2014 study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch, used three groups of 24 healthy volunteers to receive doses of PSP, Amoxicillin, and a control.

They concluded "...the antibiotic amoxicillin alters the microbiome and recovery from this disruption can take several weeks. PSP from T. versicolor acts as a prebiotic to modulate human intestinal microbiome composition."

This aspect of Turkey Tail mushrooms suggests broader implications for their use in health maintenance and potential for disease prevention beyond just oncology.

A Potential Ally in Holistic Health Practices

The adaptability of Turkey Tail mushrooms in various therapeutic scenarios—from aiding chemotherapy patients to supporting general immune health—makes them a valuable component in holistic health practices. As research continues to unfold, the scope of Turkey Tail's benefits only seems to widen, promising more exciting discoveries in natural health support.

The growing body of research and clinical trials, such as those reviewed on platforms like PubMed and highlighted in cancer research, consistently points to Turkey Tail mushrooms as a promising natural supplement for enhancing immune function and supporting cancer treatment protocols.

For anyone interested in integrating natural supplements into their health regime, especially those undergoing cancer treatments, Turkey Tail mushrooms offer a compelling, research-backed option that harnesses the power of nature to support healing and well-being. Whether used in conjunction with traditional treatments or as part of a preventive health strategy, the potential benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms are vast and promising.

For more detailed scientific studies and research findings on Turkey Tail mushrooms, you can explore extensive articles and publications available on PubMed or other educational resources.















The information provided in this blog about Turkey Tail mushrooms and their potential benefits, particularly in relation to cancer treatment and immune system modulation, is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. I am not a healthcare professional, and this information should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

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