Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits: No Fowl, All Gut Health
If you live in the United States, chances are you probably know someone who suffers from digestive problems.
Maybe it’s IBS, Crohn’s, celiac, leaky gut…even good ol’ bloating. The truth is, these health issues affect more people in our lives than we might realize – even some us here at Four Sigmatic.
It’s enough to make your stomach churn. (Sorry, dad joke.)
But seriously, if you or someone close to you suffers from digestive issues, you know how painful and frustrating it can be. And as more and more research comes to light, it’s clear gut health isn’t just about a sore stomach. The well-being of our gastrointestinal systems has been linked to everything from cognitive health to immune function.
A well-balanced gut microbiome should hum like a well-oiled machine, supporting immune function, energy, mental clarity, and of course, good digestion.
The Connection Between Mushrooms and Your Gut Health
You may have glimpsed a "gut mushroom" while walking in the forest and not even known it. It’s actually one of the most common mushrooms in the North American woods.
I’m talking about Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor. It’s Japanese name is Kawaratake or “Mushroom by the River,” and in China it would be called Yun Zhi. Here in North America we most commonly know it as turkey tail.
Don’t worry, a wild turkey wasn’t harmed in the consumption of turkey tail mushroom. It’s so named because it fans out remarkably like a turkey’s tail.
It’s said that ancient Chinese Taoists were especially impressed with turkey tail’s ability to grow almost anywhere, especially on pine, a tree notorious for its antifungal properties. Clearly, they thought, any mushroom that can thrive in such an unwelcoming environment must possess some pretty epic benefits.
And clearly, they were they right.
Turkey Tail’s Prebiotics and Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut is very much alive. There are trillions of microbes that live in the normal human gut[*]. In order to keep those microbes alive and happy, you need prebiotics. Not to be confused with the more famous probiotics, prebiotics are selectively fermented in your gut to keep the microbes happy.
Turkey tail mushrooms contain a prebiotic polysaccharide called Polysaccharopeptide (PSP for short). A randomized clinical trial has tested PSP on gut health and found that it encouraged the growth of good bacteria in your gut[*].
Turkey tail mushrooms also contain another polysaccharide called Polysaccharide K (PSK) which helps to support immune response[*].
Think of turkey tail’s prebiotic and antioxidant properties as a daily guard for your gut. Separate, they’re great. Together, they’re a dream team, keeping your gut flora thriving so you can feel your best. A well-balanced gut doesn’t just affect your digestive system. It supports full body well-being, including your immune system.
Western scientific research is diving deep into the world of gut health, so I’m sure we’ll learn more about the health benefits of turkey tail in the very near future.
Using Turkey Tail Mushrooms Daily
The most common way to consume turkey tail is in an extracted “tea” decoction. That’s because a turkey tail extract is the easiest way to get an effective dose.
If you are wild foraging turkey tail, be sure to verify with at least two identification guides that what you have is indeed turkey tail before you consume it.
Want to learn more about turkey tail mushrooms? Sign up for the Mushroom Academy, a FREE online e-learning course.