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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Lim Sock Ling on July 31, 2022

Amazing Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits You Won’t Believe

What can adding turkey tail mushroom to your health and wellness routine do for you? For starters, it may help fight cancer growth. Find out more here.

Turkey tail feature min scaled

Like other medicinal mushrooms, turkey tail mushroom has been used for centuries in ancient Chinese medicine to promote wellness.

In fact, the Egyptians associated mushrooms with immortality and called them “sons of the gods.” They believed mushrooms like turkey tail were sent to earth on lightning bolts by the Storm God Set.

Discover some of the most impressive benefits of turkey tail mushroom in this guide. Then read on to learn how to use it at home.

What Is Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Yunzhi grows on the sides of trees in Asia and Europe.

The medical term for turkey tail mushroom is Yunzhi (Coriolus Versicolor). It’s a medical mushroom that has a distinctive appearance.

Yunzhi is easily recognizable by its bands of white, gray, brown, black, blue, and red concentric circles that fan outwards in frilly layers. This gives it the appearance of a turkey tail.

The mushroom can be found in abundance in woodlands in Asia and Europe. It grows in clusters on the sides of fallen trees.

Health Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Turkey tail is an excellent source of unique antioxidants and prebiotic fiber. It may help fight cancer, boost digestive health, and lower blood sugar levels.

May fight cancer

The key cancer-fighting components of this mushroom are Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) and Polysaccharide-K (PSK).

PSP works mainly as a biological response modifier. It stimulates the body’s immune system to target and attack “oncoviruses” (tumor viruses). Examples include the Hepatitis C virus that causes liver cancer and the Human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.

PSK extract (“krestin”) also stimulates the immune system and may inhibit several cancer onset mechanisms.

A 2012 study found that using Yunzhi together with conventional anti-cancer treatment results in a significant survival advantage compared with administering conventional treatment alone.

The study, which analyzed the results of 13 clinical trials, found a 9% reduction in 5-year mortality in the group that took Yunzhi. The effect was strongest for patients with breast, gastric, and colorectal cancer.

Supports digestive health

Turkey tail contains prebiotic fiber to help enhance gut health. Prebiotics are the “fuel” the probiotics (good bacteria) rely on. This may help ease digestive ailments, such as constipation and diarrhea.

Other health benefits of prebiotics include increased calcium absorption, decrease allergy risk, and improved immune system defense.

Stabilizes blood sugar levels

Because it contains a good source of prebiotic fiber and antioxidants, turkey tail can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Fiber helps slow down blood glucose dumping, which is the rate in which glucose enters your blood after a meal. It also improves gastric emptying. As a result, high-fiber foods tend to help you feel full and help provide lasting energy.

Research shows that the polysaccharopeptides in medicinal mushrooms contain antihyperglycemic properties that may help prevent type 2 diabetes. They work by improving glucose transit and decreasing oxidative stress to reduce inflammation.

How Is Turkey Tail Used In TCM?

Turkey tail is often used in soups and teas or taken as a supplement in capsule form.

According to Physician Lim Sock Ling, “From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, turkey tail benefits the Liver, Spleen, and Lung meridians. It strengthens the Spleen and removes Dampness, relieves cough and breathlessness, and clears Heat and toxins. It also contains anti-cancer properties.” 

It’s commonly used in treatments for the following conditions:

Unlike the mushrooms we cook, medicinal mushrooms are often hard and wood-like. This is why in TCM they are brewed as teas, boiled in soups, or packaged in powder or capsule form.

Turkey tail vs. other medicinal mushrooms

Each medicinal mushroom has different properties that benefit different organ systems. Here are some examples:

  • Shiitake can benefit heart health, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels
  • Chaga helps lower LDL and slow the growth of cancer
  • Lion’s mane supports brain health
  • Reishi (also known as Lingzhi) helps with depression, sleep, and immunity. It contains anti-cancer properties like turkey tail.
  • Cordyceps boosts energy and enhances athletic performance. This is different from turkey tail.

Turkey Tail Mushroom Safety Precautions

Some people may experience digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, and dark stools when taking turkey tail mushrooms. 

When used as a cancer treatment alongside chemotherapy, side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Another potential side effect is the darkening of the fingernails.

Always be sure to consult your doctor or a registered TCM physician before taking turkey tail. He or she will work with you to determine the best way to take it. Never try to self-medicate.

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