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A Guide to Turkey Tail Mushroom and Its Amazing Health Benefits


One of the most frequent medicinal mushrooms you will encounter in the wild is the turkey tail, which grows on stumps and dead hardwood trees. The distinctive multicolored rings that this mushroom forms, which resemble the tail of a turkey, give it its name. The ancient Chinese held Turkey Tail in high regard for its tenacity and vigorous growth. According to TCM, it is claimed to replenish the body's essence and qi as well as gather the yang energy of the trees. It has historically been used to stimulate the spleen, ease coughs, aid in breathing difficulties, and regulate the immunological system.

The most extensively studied medicinal mushroom in the world is Turkey Tail, thanks to its efficacy as an immuno-modulator and cancer treatment. In the past 50 years, numerous large-scale clinical trials and peer-reviewed studies have been conducted, with outstanding outcomes using Turkey Tail extracts. Triterpenes, polyphenols, and other chemicals that are active in this mushroom have also been studied, although most of the research has been on PSK (polysaccharide krestin) and PSP, two of its potent polysaccharides (polysaccharide peptide).

Among its many advantages, PSK and PSP's ability to increase immune cell production and improve tumor penetration by active cytotoxic cells is by far the most important. The use of these substances has also been demonstrated to considerably increase survival rates in cancer treatment by assisting the body in combating against the negative effects of radiotherapy. 

Cancer Treatment

Turkey Tail is the preferred medicinal mushroom for the treatment of cancer.

Turkey Tail extracts have demonstrated encouraging outcomes in more than 400 peer-reviewed investigations and clinical trials, both with and without conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapies. Stomach, colorectal, liver, breast, uterine, esophageal, and lung cancers have all significantly improved.

When combined with radiation therapy, Turkey Tail extracts also promote bone marrow regeneration and hasten immunological recovery by as much as 400%.

Turkey tail extracts are currently the best-selling anti-cancer medication on the Japanese market and are widely used in North America, Europe, and Asia. (2,3,4,5)

Immune Health

Turkey tail mushrooms can help the body recover from autoimmune diseases and low immune function by modulating the immunological response. 

Extracts have the power to rejuvenate white blood cells and promote the development of T-cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells. 

The most notable anti-pathogenic property of Turkey Tail is its antiviral properties, which make it effective against a wide range of dangerous organisms.

It has been proven to be useful in aiding recovery from a number of other retroviral illnesses, including HIV, Herpes, HPV, Hepatitis C, and others. (6,7,8,9)

Gut Microbiome Benefits

Regarding the impact of prebiotic polysaccharides on the gut flora, Turkey Tail is the fungus that has been the subject of the most research. 

According to studies, the fermentation of PSP by gut bacteria promotes the good bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp. while decreasing the bad bacteria Clostridium difficile, Staphylococcus spp., and Enterococcus spp. 

One study found that an intravaginally given PSP extract from Turkey Tail enhanced cervical mucosa, lowered PH, and increased beneficial bacteria by 54.5%. (10,11)

The effects of polysaccharides derived from medicinal mushrooms on the health of the human microbiome are a fascinating topic of study, as gut imbalances are the root cause of many chronic diseases in the 21st century. 

These polysaccharides reduce gut inflammation and promote a healthy pre-biotic ecosystem in which quality bacterial communities can thrive.

Dosing and Concentration

Overall, Turkey Tail holds a lot of promise for improving human health. 

It is safe to ingest in large quantities, as are other medicinal mushrooms, and for maximum benefits, it should be worked with consistently for 3 weeks or more. 

Alchemy Dose provides an 8:1 ratio of real log-grown concentrated fruiting body powder. Because much study has shown that concentrated extracts offer the most value, this is the best form of this fungus. 

Maintenance dosage is typically 0.5-1g, 1-2 times per day. It is recommended to take 3-5 times that quantity for deeper imbalances or cancer treatment.


Beta-glucans themselves don’t fight disease. Instead, these compounds are able to stimulate or activate the other cells responsible for immunity. [2]

When beta-glucans enter the body, they mimic an invader, and are taken to task by “macrophages”, innate immune cells that engulf the beta-glucan and take them to the lymph nodes. There, they are broken down into smaller bits. The fragments are then released and bind to “natural killer cells” (and other immune cells) essentially “priming” them and allowing them to reach and react to pathogens much quicker.

Sort of like a Trojan Horse, except good for you!

There are two particularly interesting compounds that have been isolated from different strains of Turkey Tail, notably PSP (polysaccharide peptide) and PSK (polysaccharide-k, otherwise known as “Krestin”).

PSK was discovered in the 1960’s in Japan and PSP was isolated in China in the 1980’s. These compounds have been studied for their ability to support the immune system and alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy*. 

A published review found that:

“PSK and PSP boosted immune cell production, ameliorated chemotherapy symptoms, and enhanced tumor infiltration by dendritic and cytotoxic T-cells*. Their extremely high tolerability, proven benefits to survival and quality of life, and compatibility with chemotherapy and radiation therapy makes them well suited for cancer management regimens*.” [3]

There have also been multiple studies on the use of PSK as being a beneficial adjunct to chemotherapy for various types of cancers*. 

“PSK has been studied in patients with gastric cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. It has been used as adjuvant therapy in thousands of cancer patients since the mid-1970s. PSK has been safely used in people for a long time in Japan and few side effects have been reported.” [4]

Turkey Tail has prebiotic properties and has traditionally been used for improving gut health*.

Studies have shown that Turkey Tail, more specifically PSP, has a prebiotic effect and has been shown to modify human fecal microbiota composition*. [5]

Another study looked to compare the effects of PSP to those of the antibiotic amoxicillin on the human gut microbiome*. [6]

It found that “PSP from T. versicolor acts as a prebiotic to modulate human intestinal microbiome composition*.”

Turkey Tail is more than just a carrier for immune-supporting beta-glucans – it also contains an impressive array of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids*. 

One study identified a total of 38 phenolic compounds. [7]

“These findings have demonstrated considerable potential of T. versicolor water extract as a natural source of antioxidants*.”

Extracts of Turkey Tail have been shown to exhibit anti-viral properties*.

Use of Turkey Tail supplementation has been reported to improve the immune status of patients with HIV [8] and reduce the frequency and inactivate herpes simplex virus in a dose-dependant manner*. [9]

1. Torkelson, Carolyn J., Erin Sweet, Mark R. Martzen, Masa Sasagawa, Cynthia A. Wenner, Juliette Gay, Amy Putiri, and Leanna J. Standish. “Phase 1 Clinical Trial of TRAMETES Versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer.” ISRN Oncology 2012 (2012): 1–7.

2. Standish LJ, Wenner CA, Sweet ES, Bridge C, Nelson A, Martzen M, Novack J, Torkelson C. Trametes Versicolor Mushroom Immune Therapy in Breast Cancer. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2008 Summer;6(3):122-8.” J Soc Integr Oncol., 3, Summer, no. 6 (2008): 122–28.

3. Fritz, Heidi, Deborah A. Kennedy, Mami Ishii, Dean Fergusson, Rochelle Fernandes, Kieran Cooley, and Dugald Seely. “Polysaccharide k and Coriolus Versicolor Extracts for Lung Cancer.” Integrative Cancer Therapies 14, no. 3 (2015): 201–11. 

4. Ohwada, S, T Ikeya, T Yokomori, T Kusaba, T Roppongi, T Takahashi, S Nakamura, et al. “Adjuvant Immunochemotherapy with ORAL Tegafur/Uracil PLUS PSK in Patients with Stage II or Iii Colorectal Cancer: A Randomised Controlled Study.” British Journal of Cancer 90, no. 5 (2004): 1003–10. 

5. Chay, Wen Yee, Chee Kian Tham, Han Chong Toh, Hwee Yong Lim, Chee Kiat Tan, Cindy Lim, Who-Whong Wang, and Su-Pin Choo. “Coriolus Versicolor (Yunzhi) Use as Therapy in Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients with Poor Liver Function or Who Are Unfit for Standard Therapy.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 23, no. 8 (2017): 648–52. 

6. Pfeiffer, Marijke. “The Effectiveness of Coriolus Versicolor Supplementation on HIV+ Patients and the Impact on CD4 Count and Viral Load.” Lecture presented at the III International Symposium on Mushroom Nutrition, March 10, 2001.

7. Monma, Yuko, Takashi Kawana, and Fumio Shimizu. “In Vitro Inactivation of Herpes Simplex Virus by a Biological Response Modifier, PSK.” Antiviral Research 35, no. 3 (1997): 131–38. 

8. Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2020.

9. Silva Couto, Jose, and Daniele Pereira da Silva. “Coriolus Versicolor Supplementation in HPV Patients.” 20th European Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Lecture presented at the 20th European Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, March 7, 2008.

10. Pallav, Kumar, Scot E Dowd, Javier Villafuerte, Xiaotong Yang, Toufic Kabbani, Joshua Hansen, Melinda Dennis, Daniel A Leffler, David S Newburg, and Ciarán P Kelly. “Effects of Polysaccharopeptide From Trametes Versicolor and Amoxicillin on the Gut Microbiome of Healthy Volunteers.” Gut Microbes 5, no. 4 (2014): 458–67. 

11. Yu, Zhuo-Teng, Bo Liu, Purna Mukherjee, and David S. Newburg. “Trametes Versicolor Extract Modifies Human Fecal Microbiota Composition In Vitro.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 68, no. 2 (2013): 107–12.

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