Turkey Tail Mushroom: Nature's Immune Booster
A “renaissance mycologist” inventor and researcher by the name of Paul Stamets, Ph.D, is well-known for his strong beliefs in the power of mushrooms, having authored six mushroom-related books and being awarded nine patents with more that are likely to come. Specifically, he has discovered nine antiviral molecules that are revealed through the mycelium of the mushroom as it rots the wood it has inhabited.
Turkey tail mushrooms work by providing a big boost to our immune systems. They contain B-glucans, polysaccharides, within the fungal cell walls. When eaten, these B-glucans provide receptors in the small intestine area that get the immune-boosting power in full force. This power puts the turkey tail mushroom in the adaptogen category. Adaptogen herbs work to resist numerous stress factors that we face daily, providing support to the immune system and stimulating energy levels. Usually, adaptogens are herbal compounds found in things like mushrooms, roots, berries, barks and leaves.
Furthermore, mushrooms are composed of compacted mycelium, the same noted by Dr. Stamets, and jam-packed with nutrition, such as polysaccharides, proteins, minerals, and vitamins B and D. They’re also low-fat. The mycelium structure is loaded with helpful enzymes, antimicrobial agents and antiviral compounds. In fact, this mycelium is more important than you may think by helping provide nutrient-dense soil, something our land is often lacking, which can help neutralize the toxins in our immune systems.
How to Use and Buy Turkey Tail Mushrooms
The turkey tail mushroom is edible but is rather chewy, which is why it’s most commonly served as a tea or powder in capsule form. It’s often found combined with other mushrooms as a supplement.
It’s best to buy organic to avoid toxins that may be found in the soil, especially since one of the biggest benefits is the dirt the mushroom is grown in, providing nourishment due to its natural environment.
Other things to consider when making a purchase is whether the product has been validated by scientific studies. You want to make sure you get the real thing that has been properly sourced. Find out where the mushrooms were grown and if they’ve been handled by experts.
There is a fractionated “drug” version of turkey tail, also called PSK or polysaccharide K. It’s extremely popular in Japan for its anticancer properties, but it cannot be legally sold in the U.S. However, the pure version of turkey tail that was used in a breast cancer study can be found at Fungi Perfecti under the label “Host Defense.” Because this turkey tail mycelium is in its pure form, it’s considered an FDA-approved nutraceutical, allowing it to be marketing as a supplement.
Here is a TED Talk by Paul Stamets on the Turkey Tail Mushroom... (Note: That stylish hat he wears is made from a giant mushroom)