Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom known for its purported health benefits, such as maintaining gut health and supporting the immune system.
The fungus typically grows on hardwood trees and is a polypore variety; it’s recognizable by its dark and feathered caps.
Both anecdotal evidence and a growing number of medical studies support the idea that turkey tail mushrooms can benefit general health. In fact, in Japan, the mushroom is clinically approved as a support supplement alongside traditional cancer treatments.
However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has still not approved its use in the US. So, how much do we really know about turkey tail, and how accessible are turkey tail mushroom capsules?
1. Maintaining a Healthy Gut
Good gut health is essential. Maintaining the balance of bacteria in our gut flora ensures that organs like the intestines and stomach can work effectively.
When they work ineffectively, the body can experience greater stress, an imbalance in hormones, poor nutrient absorption, and more.
Turkey tail mushrooms contain prebiotics, which feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Some studies, like this one, have researched the correlation between turkey tails and gut flora closely. Using 24 participants, they found that supplementing turkey tail helped maintain healthy bacteria, such as lactobacillus, and may even stop the growth of harmful bacteria.
The relationship between immune support and turkey tail mushrooms is perhaps the most intriguing. The body’s immune system is a complicated network of cells, organs, and other bodily functions. Its main function is to keep the body safe from infections, viruses, and more.
To do this, it produces white blood cells, which attack harmful bacteria and other unwanted invaders. Inflammation on the body is a sign of the immune system; it shows the white blood cells defending the body.
So, where does turkey tail fit in?
Turkey tail mushrooms contain lots of antioxidants, such as phenols and flavonoids. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and may even encourage the release of more protective compounds.
Because of the apparent immune-boosting benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, many believe it can be used to promote efficacy in cancer treatment. More specifically, that it can be used in tandem with traditional treatments like chemotherapy.
However, there is still much to learn about the impact of turkey tail supplements in this area, and it’s worth noting again that the FDA has not approved its use.
Many mushrooms are being studied for their impact on weight management, and turkey tails are no different.
Turkey tail mushrooms contain a compound called protein-bound beta-glucan (PBG). Many claim that the fiber in beta-glucan can make you feel fuller for longer. Therefore, it may encourage people to consume smaller food portions and snack less.
As mentioned above, turkey tail mushrooms are also good for gut health and digestion. It’s possible that this could contribute to a faster metabolism and encourage a daily calorie deficit.
However, studies have so far been inconclusive on turkey tails’ relationship with weight loss. Not to mention, no human trials have been conducted in this area.
Risks of Turkey Tail Supplements
While turkey tail is generally considered safe to consume, there are always exceptions. For instance, those with an intolerance or allergy to mushrooms should avoid them completely.
Other side effects can include:
- Constipation and bloating
- Bodily aches and pains
If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms, it’s worth getting in touch with your doctor or GP. They can discuss with you an appropriate supplement routine and discourage its use if necessary.
Where to Find Turkey Tail Supplements
Turkey tail supplements are becoming easier to find, thanks to their rising popularity. In fact, in the US, many health stores and even supermarkets may stock mushroom products. However, buyers can find many more choices online.
Whether you are shopping for turkey tail tinctures, capsules, or powders, there’ll be plenty of product options. Unfortunately, the supplement market is still under-regulated, and so poorly-made mushroom products are rife.
Trustworthy brands will always have open communication with their customers, provide third-party lab reports, and clearly state their products’ manufacturing and growing processes. Some brands, like VidaCap, go the extra mile. They’ll showcase that their turkey tail capsules are organic, non-GMO, and vegan-friendly.
No matter where you shop online, always make sure you choose a reputable brand.