Turkey tail mushroom benefits and Side effects

turkey tail benefits


Turkey tail mushrooms are a very popular, white-rot lignicolous fungus. Commonly used for its medicinal and nutritive properties. It has a long history of medical use in Asia, dating back over 2000 years in traditional Asian medicine (1). Turkey tail benefits and other details are as follows.

Name: Turkey tail mushroom

Scientific name: Trametes versicolor  or Coriolus versicolor or Polyporus versicolor or Boletus versicolor or Polystictus versicolor of family Polyporaceae

Common name:  Ungi, Bracket fungi, Yun-Zhi (cloud-like mushroom) in China, Kawaratake (roof tile fungus) in Japan. 

Locally, turkey tail mushroom is called ‘Ungi’ and is often used as a home remedy or a dietary supplement (2). It’s named turkey tail because its rings of brown and tan look like the tail feathers of a turkey

Taste and Texture: Turkey tail mushroom is sweet in nature, mild in taste, widely grown as saprophytes on many deciduous trees (oak, Prunus) and some conifers (fir and pine trees), with basidium mostly appearing on stubs and trunks throughout the year (3).

Nutritional value of Turkey tail mushroom

Turkey tail benefits are due to it has starch, fiber, chitin, and a high amount of protein. Antioxidative compounds like polysaccharides, phenolic compounds gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, and catechin. This mushroom is also rich in calcium and minerals, vitamins B1, B2, C, and D, ergosterol, selenium, and eritadenine.

Turkey tail mushroom benefits

Turkey tail mushroom benefits include antitumor, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-hyperglycemic, immunomodulating, antiviral, and others as follows

1. Rich in selenium

Turkey tail mushroom possesses the ability to accumulate and transform selenium into a non-toxic form (L-selenomethionine). This can be used as a food supplement. 

It also increases L-glutamic and L-aspartic acids in mycelium which is very beneficial as a flavor enhancer also improves antioxidative and antibacterial activities thus prolong the shelf life of food products with added health benefits (4).

2. Immunotherapeutic properties of Turkey tail mushroom

Rich source of polysaccharopeptide (β-Glucan) possesses immunomodulatory function. Polysaccharopeptide activates and enhances the function and recognition ability of immune cells, strengthens the phagocytosis of macrophages, and ameliorates the adverse events associated with chemotherapy (5).

Furthermore, 9 grams/day of Turkey tail mushroom is safe and tolerable in women with breast cancer. Thus can be used as an immunotherapeutic agent for cancer treatment and improving the survival and quality of life in patients suffering cancers, hepatopathy, hyperlipidemia, chronic bronchitis, and other complex diseases (6).

3. Improves brain health

A research study suggested that intake of Turkey tail mushroom enhances brain cognitive reserve which further reduces disease states, stress, injury, and/or aging in the brain (7). Furthermore, Turkey tail mushroom polysaccharides can reduce the lipid peroxidation level in brain tissues during exhaustive exercise and accelerate the removal of free radicals (8).

4. Antidiabetic properties of Turkey tail mushroom

The polysaccharide of this mushroom cuts the source of glucose from the intestine and increases glucose uptake by peripheral organs, such as the liver, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle. Thus, reduced blood glucose levels increased glucose consumption in insulin-resistant cells and can be useful for diabetic patients who also suffer from cancer or microbial infections (9).

5. Treat fatigue

The presence of polysaccharides such as polysaccharopeptides and polysaccharide krestin in Turkey tail mushrooms possesses significant anti-fatigue activity.

Which improves strength, endurance swimming time, and exercises performance by decreasing serum lactate, ammonia, and creatine kinase without any toxic effect (10).  

6. Protect the liver

Polysaccharides present in Turkey tail mushroom (80 and 160 mg/kg/day) reduce the bad enzymes induced by alcohol feeding, enhance antioxidant capacity and prevent damage caused by oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation (11).

7. Anti-obesity properties

Another Turkey tail mushroom benefit is that it helps in weight loss. The protein-bound β-glucan found in Turkey tail mushroom increased the abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila (good bacteria).

Thus regulates host metabolism which may reverse high-fat diet-induced obesity. Thus intake of Turkey tail mushrooms might reduce fat accumulation through a microbiota-dependent or –independent manner (12).

8. Reduce toxic aflatoxin

Aflatoxin is the most harmful mycotoxin that produces by contaminated staple cereals such as maize. Therefore, cultivation Turkey tail mushrooms act as a ‘‘healing mushrooms’’ because it contains β-glucan which inhibits aflatoxin and stimulates the host immune response (13).

9. Antiviral properties of Turkey tail mushroom

Consumption of this mushroom helps in inhibiting HIV-1 reverse transcriptase and glycohydrolase enzyme associated with viral glycosylation. Which later expands the HIV virus (14). Furthermore Turkey tail mushroom may help heal infections, such as an oral strain of the human papillomavirus(HPV) (15).

10. Treat neurodegenerative diseases

Turkey tail mushroom contains phenols and flavonoids (baicalein, quercetin, daidzein, amentoflavone, and catechin) which inhibit acetylcholinesterase activity.

Therefore, Turkey tail mushrooms can be useful as an alternative source of bioactive substances to be used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases (16).

11. Improve gut health

Turkey tail mushroom is a rich source of polysaccharide peptide that not only acts as a prebiotic agent to increase good bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria but also reduce bad bacteria like Clostridium, Staphylococcus, and Enterococcus. Thus, alter the composition of the microbial community which disrupts by various factors (17)

12. Proteins in Turkey tail mushrooms helps in boosting immunity

Turkey tail mushroom contains a protein known as TVC. Which increases the proliferation of human peripheral blood lymphocytes enhances the production of both nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.

Therefore, the turkey tail mushroom acts as an immunostimulant that can boost immune response. It may be useful for the development of new drug types for the treatment of cancer and various autoimmune diseases (18).

13. Antimicrobial properties

Turkey tail mushrooms are a good source of terpenoids, polysaccharides (polysaccharopeptides and polysaccharide krestin), and cinnamic acid. Which are beneficial for protection against various bacteria and fungi such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida albicans, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus niger (19).

14. Anti genotoxic properties

Turkey tail mushroom contains phenols and flavonoids which exhibit antigenotoxic effects (prevent damages the genetic information). Thus able to stimulate genoprotective response of cells which further enhances immune function, toxin removal, and strengthening. It means it helps in DNA protection from oxidative damage (20).

15. Anticancer properties

Turkey tail mushroom benefits are due to antioxidants such as Ergosterol, Polysaccharide-K (Krestin; PSK), and polysaccharide peptide (PSP). Which can be used as an anticancer drug for cancer treatment along with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy (21).

Side effect of Turkey tail mushroom

The researcher’s study suggested that intake of Turkey tail mushrooms appears to be safe during pregnancy. And no adverse effects or lethal effects were observed as a consequence of the daily administration of this mushroom (22)However, excessive intake of Turkey tail mushrooms may decrease lung weights and platelet numbers (23).

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati