Why the Immune Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms Are Nothing to Sneeze At
What kind of noise does a nut make when it sneezes?
Supporting your immune function is nothing to cough at. Your body is working tirelessly to keep itself safe and guard it against all the bacteria, viruses, and pathogens that are just waiting to invade. You may already known that chaga mushrooms have antioxidant properties that help to support immune function. And I’ve talked before about how amazing turkey tail mushrooms are for your gut health and digestion. But I haven’t yet talked about how turkey tail mushrooms can support immune function. So let’s get into that.
How Your Immune System Works
Your immune system is working hard for you at all hours of the day and night. Whether you haven’t been sick for years or you’re just getting over the common cold, you have your immune system to thank.
But what even is an immune system?
The immune system is a vast network of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. Together, these parts of the body collaborate to neutralize and remove bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and more.
Your immune response starts with a set of alarms: RED ALERT, POSSIBLE INTRUDER. First on the scene are a variety of cell types. Here are a few of my favorites[*]:
- 😋Macrophages: Travel around the body, ingest and degrade bacteria, and trigger T-cells
- 🚨Natural Killer (NK cells): Recognize and kill virus-infected cells
- 🅱️B-Cells: Produce antibodies to neutralize infectious microbes or pathogens. These antibodies fall into categories of IgM, IgD, IgG, IgA and IgE.
- 🎯T-cells: Kill infected cells and recruit other good guys
When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even know that it’s doing its job. Now it’s important to remember that no two immune systems are alike. Some of us are just luckier than others.
Immune system function can vary for a number of reasons, both genetic and environmental. Luckily we have the chance to support it, no matter what our genetics are.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Your Immune System
Turkey tail mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousand of years to support your immune system. Here are a couple ways Western science believes that may be:
Turkey Tail and Microbiome
First, turkey tail mushrooms help to support your microbiome and gut health, which has a huge affect on your immune system response. You can read more about the nitty gritty details of turkey tail guarding your gut here.
Turkey Tail Polysaccharides
Like other functional mushrooms, turkey tail is full of polysaccharides and triterpenes for immunomodulating properties. Turkey tail has two unique beta-glucans: polysaccharide krestin (polysaccharide-K or PSK) and polysaccharide peptide (PSP)[*][*]. These two may help to regenerate white blood cells and stimulate T-cells and NK cells so they can do their very important jobs in your immune system response.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms in the Wild
Turkey tail mushroom looks just as you’d imagine it — like a fanned-out turkey tail with stripes of varying colors radiating out from the edges. Turkey tail is a polypore, meaning the fruiting body grows on the underside of the mushroom.
If there’s one mushroom you’ll find on your lunch break, it’s wild turkey tail. It grows on fallen and dead trees and is quite abundant worldwide. It’s said that ancient Taoists in China were especially impressed with turkey tail’s ability to grow almost anywhere, especially on pine, a tree notorious for its antifungal properties.
You can find turkey tail in the United States and Canada. If you’re going foraging for wild mushrooms in North America, be sure to read my top tips first.
Turkey Tail in Four Sigmatic Products
You can find 300mg of organic turkey tail mushroom extract (Trametes versicolor) in our Mushroom Chai Latte with Turkey Tail & Reishi mushroom. Our pure, wood-grown turkey tail extract is made by extracting the fruiting body of the fungi, and free from fillers and carriers.
May you stay well this winter with your immune system superheros by your side. If you’d like to learn more about turkey tail mushrooms and other immune supporting functional mushrooms, dive into the Mushroom Academy. The Mushroom Academy is a 100 percent free e-learning course that you can join in at your own pace.