The use of functional mushrooms in producing herbal medications has been going on for thousands of years. Ancient China and Japan considered functional mushrooms sacred and stated that the fungi provided extraordinary health benefits and could also help keep the body young. Many modern herbal medications also contain functional mushroom extracts because of their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
While there's a diverse variety of incredible mushrooms out there, we're going to talk about one prominent functional mushroom that's become quite popular these days. The turkey tail mushroom.
The turkey tail mushroom is by far one of the most unique-looking fungi around. They're easily recognizable as they have a distinct fan-like exterior shape that may spread to about 8 cm.
In fact, the fan shape of the mushroom closely resembles a turkey's tail, hence the name! Recently, turkey tail mushroom supplements have picked up considerable popularity thanks to their immune-boosting capabilities. Moreover, some studies have even identified the positive effects of turkey tail mushrooms to help detoxify the stomach.
In light of this, we're going to dive into the history of the turkey tail mushroom along with its potential benefits, and how you can incorporate functional mushroom supplements into your diet.
A Brief Look into the History of the Turkey Tail Mushroom
The scientific name for turkey tail mushroom is Trametes versicolor and it is sometimes known as Coriolus versicolor. The functional mushroom thrives in cold and hot climates and grows on the hardwood of deceased or dying trees in forests throughout the globe. The turkey tail mushroom comprises an enigmatic fan-like tail that's made up of unique layers of stripes that can vary in color (brown, tan, white, and gray).
Because turkey tail mushrooms are quite beautiful in terms of visual aesthetics, the Japanese aptly named the mushrooms "Kawaritake", which roughly translates to "cloud-like mushroom". And if you look at it closely, you'd notice that the fan-like shape of the mushrooms actually resembles cloud formations.
Turkey tail mushrooms have been a part of several Asian cultures thanks to the mushroom's various medicinal properties, its potential to prolong life, and the spiritual factors associated with the mushroom. The ancient Chinese called the mushroom Tun Zhi and historians believe that the mushrooms had been a central part of herbal medicine production thousands of years ago in China.
Even today, traditional Chinese medications contain turkey tail extracts for their immune-building effects and their potential to combat bacterial infections. In Chinese culture, turkey tail mushrooms are used to brew tea, which according to people, has soothing, calming, and detoxifying effects on the body. Some also claim that the mushroom helps strengthen the stomach, spleen, and lungs.
Potential Health Advantages Associated with Turkey Tail Mushroom Supplements
They are a Powerhouse of Antioxidants
One of the best things about turkey tail mushroom supplements is the fact they contain tremendous amounts of antioxidants. For instance, scientists have identified that turkey tail mushrooms contain antioxidants such as phenols and flavonoids that help combat inflammation and enhance immunity. Turkey tail mushrooms also comprise quercetin, which is an antioxidant that is specifically known to potentially improve cognitive function and focus. Plus, quercetin is also known to help fight infections and improve your physical health.
May Offer Powerful Immune-Boosting Compounds
Functional mushrooms are typically known to contain healthy amounts of polysaccharides (certain types of carbohydrates). However, turkey tail contains soluble fibers known as beta-glucans, which are closely associated with having excellent effects on the human immune system. Beta-glucans are essential carbohydrates that help promote wellness and can potentially trigger the growth of new cells.
However, turkey tail mushrooms also take this to the next level. How? Well while most functional mushrooms contain one type of polysaccharides, turkey tail mushrooms come with two. One is known as PSP (polysaccharide peptide) and the other one is PSK (polysaccharide K). Both these compounds are known to help enhance immune system function.
May Help Promote Gut and Digestive Tract Health
Turkey tail mushroom supplements may also help enhance and maintain your gut and digestive tract health. One of the reasons why medical scientists believe functional mushrooms can help optimize your gut health is because they contain prebiotics.
According to one research, it was identified that polysaccharide peptides (PSP) in turkey tail mushrooms also function as prebiotics. This means they may potentially be able to modulate the microbiome composition present in your small and large intestines.
Prebiotics are powerful compounds that specifically help maintain, regulate, and improve your gut health by producing disease-fighting bacteria in your digestive tract. In addition, it is also important to keep in mind that your gut health directly corresponds to your immune system health. The healthier your gut, the healthier your brain and nervous system.
How Can You Consume Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
One of the best ways to consume turkey tail mushrooms is in capsule or supplement form. Although functional mushroom supplements also come in powder form, taking them in capsule form is simpler and less time-consuming. For example, to use the powder, you will need to prepare meals and top everything off with the powder. However, with supplements, you just need to pop one capsule before or after any meal.
Did You Know These Fun Facts about Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
- Turkey tail mushrooms are chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals. For example, turkey tail mushroom contains vitamins such as vitamin B3, and vitamin D, as essential antioxidants and flavonoids. In addition, turkey tail mushroom compounds also function as prebiotics to help keep your gut health in check.
- Turkey tail mushrooms don't exactly taste good. People have stated that they have an earthy and mild taste, tolerable yet not exactly delicious. In addition, turkey tail mushrooms are known to have a leathery texture and are chewy.
- Turkey tail mushrooms have a fan or disc-like shape that can grow up to 8 cm in length. However, what makes the mushrooms so appealing and attractive is that they come in a variety of hues and colors such as gray, brown, orange, red, ivory, and yellow.
So there you have it. A comprehensive look into the possible health advantages of turkey tail mushrooms along with some fun facts, and why it is you should start taking mushroom supplements.