From skincare to medical treatments, functional mushrooms are a hot trend. There are thousands of different kinds of mushrooms, but some stand out against the rest for their unique benefits. We’re going to dive deep into the world of turkey tail mushrooms and why it’s one of the most special fungi known to man!
Unlike their sibling, the shiitake, turkey tail mushrooms aren’t known for their delicious flavor. Instead, these thick and tough mushrooms are used almost strictly for their medicinal benefits. You can’t simply eat these woody and hard fungi to get the results. To absorb their nutrients you’ll have to work a little harder.
Turkey tails are considered a polypore mushroom, which means their underside is porous as opposed to being covered in gills. They are multicolored which is alluded to by their scientific name Trametes versicolor. They can be found with white, brown, red, orange and even blue or green rings. They look very similar to the tail of a turkey which is where they get their western name from.
Because these mushrooms come in so many different shades, you’ll want to identify them by something other than their color. One of the best ways to identify this mushroom is by finding its porous underbelly. There aren’t any known poisonous look-alikes to the turkey tail mushroom, so foraging for them is safer than foraging for many other mushrooms.
Turkey tails can be found year-round in virtually every part of the world on decaying deciduous wood, or in the wounds of living hardwood trees, and on conifers.
Called the “cloud mushroom” in Japanese culture, this fungus has been around for centuries. Some say it dates back to the Han Dynasty in 200 BC. Although less popular than the reishi mushroom, the turkey tail mushroom is widely known and loved. In Chinese medicine, this mushroom has been used to help fight infections and support immune function.
In the 15th century, the Chinese drank turkey tail infused tea, which was said to help strengthen bones and tendons. In modern day, turkey tails have been used to help fight cancerous tumors since the 1960s in China and Japan. This scientific data has made turkey tails one of the most researched mushrooms in the world.
What Do They Taste Like?
The taste of turkey tails leaves something to be desired. The texture is very hard and they are virtually impossible to chew and swallow. They don’t have a particularly bad taste and are actually relatively mild when compared to some of their other medicinal relatives, like the reishi.
The best way to consume these mushrooms is to put them into tea or dry them out and grind them into powder. Luckily, you can extract most of the magical benefits of turkey tails by just throwing them into a couple cups of water and boiling them for 1-2 hours.
The taste of the resulting tea is super earthy, but not unpleasant. Adding some herbal tea packets, lemon, and/or honey can actually make this elixir even enjoyable to some.
As mentioned, most people like making turkey tail tea. However many people opt to take these mushrooms in a daily supplement, the same way they may take a one-a-day vitamin.
You can also take dried turkey tail powder and throw it in basically anything, with little to no flavor compromise. Add it to your coffee, smoothie or cup of juice for some additional nutrition!
This is where turkey tail really packs its punch.
Turkey tail mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, which are the number one reducers of oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress can result in cellular damage and prolonged inflammation, which has been linked to cancer and heart disease. By eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, like turkey tails, you’re decreasing your chance of illness.
Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) are two types of polysaccharopeptides, or protein-bound polysaccharides, that are found in the turkey tail mushroom. That may sound intimidating, but PSK’s and PSP’s are some of the most powerful immune boosting carbohydrates known to man. These polysaccharopeptide are the reason why turkey tail mushrooms have been used as an anticancer treatment for decades.
There is also some science that shows that taking turkey tails alongside other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can actually make the treatments even more effective.
In order to keep a strong and healthy immune system, it’s important that we pay attention to our gut health. Turkey tail mushrooms contain high levels of prebiotics, which are special plant fibers that improve the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Where Can You Try Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
So, you’ve established you’re ready to add these amazing mushrooms to your daily routine, but where is the best place to source them?
If you’re looking to take daily mushroom capsules, Alchemi Mushrooms has the perfect blend to boost your immune system. With turkey tail, chaga, reishi and vitamin D, this daily capsule will keep you protected and rejuvenated. Try Immune Shield today!