Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms: Science-Backed Secrets Revealed
You love them or you hate them. Either way, if you’re curious about the scientific benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, you’re in the right place!
This article will break down the research and provide you with everything you could possibly want to know about turkey tail mushrooms.
I’m a certified nutritionist (so yes, you can trust me because I know my sh*t). I’ve been experimenting with mushrooms and particularly turkey tail mushrooms for years, and I’ve worked with countless clients who have explored the amazing benefits of these little fungi. I spent over 20 hours reviewing all the research regarding turkey tail mushrooms to have the latest scientific data for this article.
In the article below, you’ll learn:
- The science-backed health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms (improved immunity, cancer-fighting properties, and gut health)
- How much turkey tail you’ll need to take for the desired benefit.
- Potential limitations and what to expect when taking turkey tail mushrooms.
Let’s dive into it!
Science-backed health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms
Benefit #1: Immune System Booster
One of the most powerful benefits of turkey tail mushrooms is their ability to boost your immune system.
These fungi are chock-full of polysaccharopeptides like PSK (polysaccharide-K) and PSP (polysaccharide-peptide), which have been shown to stimulate the immune system and help fight off infections.
Turkey tail mushroom extracts increase the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a critical role in the immune response against infections and cancer.
Not only this, turkey tail extracts increase the production of cytokines, molecules that help regulate the immune response.
But it gets even cooler…
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that β-glucans, a substance found in turkey tail mushrooms, can modulate the immune system, meaning they can help regulate and balance it.2️
In this study, researchers discovered that β-glucans could stimulate macrophages, which are immune cells that engulf and destroy pathogens.
The β-glucans also appeared to have immunomodulatory effects, adjusting the immune response according to the body’s needs.
This immunomodulatory effect is perfect for those times when your immune system needs a little extra support or when it’s overactive and needs to relax. 
In simpler terms, these little fungi ensure that the immune system functions optimally.
I have noticed anecdotally both personally and with family members and clients that consistently taking turkey tail mushrooms results in fewer colds and flues throughout the year.
Benefit #2: Cancer-Fighting Properties
Turkey tail mushrooms have been linked to cancer-fighting properties.
The FDA has approved clinical trials for a turkey tail mushroom extract called “PSK” (polysaccharide-K) to be used as a supportive treatment for cancer patients.
PSK has shown potential in improving the survival rates of cancer patients and reducing the side effects of chemotherapy. [3,4]
In a 2006 study published in Oncology Reports, researchers examined the effects of PSK in combination with tegafur/uracil (a chemotherapy drug) in patients with stage II or III colorectal cancer.
They found that patients receiving PSK had significantly better survival rates and improved immune function compared to those who did not receive PSK.
Another study published in Anticancer Research in 1993 investigated the effects of PSK as an adjuvant treatment after radical radiotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
The results showed that the addition of PSK significantly improved the patients’ survival rates and reduced the risk of cancer recurrence.
In a 2008 study published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, researchers evaluated the effects of Trametes versicolor (turkey tail) mushroom extract in breast cancer patients undergoing conventional therapy.
The study found that patients who received the mushroom extract had an increase in immune cells and reported improved quality of life.
These studies, among others, highlight the potential of turkey tail mushrooms in cancer treatment.
In summary, PSK and other compounds found in turkey tail mushrooms have shown promising results in improving survival rates, enhancing immune function, and reducing the side effects of conventional cancer therapies.
I have suggested turkey tail mushrooms to clients who have had experience with cancer. I have also mentioned it to family members and friends who have a family history of cancer.
Benefit #3: Gut Health Hero
These fungi are rich in prebiotics, which help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
In a 2017 review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, researchers found that edible mushrooms, including turkey tail mushrooms, contain bioactive compounds such as β-glucans, chitin, and other polysaccharides that act as prebiotics.
These compounds help improve gut health by supporting the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
Furthermore, these prebiotic compounds can help reduce inflammation in the gut and support the integrity of the gut lining, which is crucial for preventing “leaky gut” and maintaining overall health. 
A 2018 review published in the BMJ highlights the importance of a healthy gut microbiome for various aspects of our health, including digestion, immunity, and even mental well-being. 
The gut microbiome has been linked to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and even mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
By adding turkey tail mushrooms to your diet, you’re not only supporting your immune system but also promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
I’ve written several articles on the importance of gut health, and this is such an amazing added benefit. It’s true that a healthy gut makes everything better!
Incorporating Turkey Tail Mushrooms into Your Diet (Dosing Guide)
Now that you know how amazing turkey tail mushrooms are, you might be wondering how to incorporate them into your life.
Good news! These versatile fungi can be consumed in several ways:
- Capsules or powders: A convenient way to add turkey tail mushrooms to your daily routine. Just make sure to choose a reputable brand.
- Tea: Steep dried turkey tail mushrooms in hot water for a soothing and healthy beverage. It tastes exactly how you think it does. They now make mushroom coffee blends which I think taste much better.
- Extract: This is a liquid form available in a dropper. You just squeeze some drops directly into your mouth.
- Add to recipes: Finely chop or grind dried turkey tail mushrooms and incorporate them into your favorite soups, stews, or sauces.
And one more thing…
I just want to mention that it is borderline impossible to find fresh turkey tail mushrooms in most parts of the world.
You will most likely need to order whichever form you choose online, which we wrote an in-depth review about.
I would also note that if it is affordable, organic is always better.
Can you take turkey tail mushrooms every day?
Yes, you can take turkey tail mushrooms daily, and the amount you take should be based on the desired result, which leads us to:
What is the recommended dose of turkey tail mushrooms?
To be clear, there is not enough data to be 100% conclusive of any of the benefits listed below. Most manufacturers recommend 1-3g a day, but I wanted to provide more evidence for you guys based on the desired benefit, so please take these recommendations with a grain of salt.
Goal 1: For Cancer-fighting Properties (6-9g daily)
In a study evaluating the effects of turkey tail mushroom extract on immune function in breast cancer patients, participants were given a daily dose of 6-9 g of the extract for 6-9 months, depending on their body weight. 
Of course, this is 100%, not conclusive, and way more research is needed to confirm this finding.
Goal 2: For Immune-health improvements or gut-health improvements
For general improvements in immune health or gut health, I couldn’t find a single study that wasn’t conducted on cancer patients, Alzheimer patients (and a few other diseases), or mice, so there isn’t a great answer here.
If you go to websites of manufacturers such as Host Defense, Real Mushrooms, or OM, the recommendation ranges from 1-2g daily. Until we get better data, I would take the recommended dose from manufacturers (even though I hate this answer), and it’s what I currently do when I supplement with mushrooms.
Potential Limitations & What to Expect
Do turkey tail mushrooms have side effects?
Turkey tail mushrooms are generally safe, but as with any food or supplement you may experience side effects like digestive distress, bowel movement reactions, or allergies. If you experience these, you should definitely stop taking turkey tail.
How long does it take for turkey tail mushrooms to work?
Of course, the time it takes for turkey tail mushrooms to show effects varies from person to person and depends on factors such as dosage, individual response, and the specific health concern being addressed.
But in general, a few weeks should result in observable changes.
Are turkey tail mushrooms hard on the liver?
There is no evidence suggesting that turkey tail mushrooms are harmful to the liver or any digestive organs when consumed in moderate amounts.
Do turkey tail mushrooms increase testosterone?
There is limited evidence supporting the claim that turkey tail mushrooms directly increase testosterone levels. More research is needed to confirm any such effect. So, be aware and listen to your body.
Do turkey tail mushrooms increase estrogen?
There is no conclusive evidence that turkey tail mushrooms increase estrogen levels. Further research is required to understand their potential impact on hormone levels.
As above, proceed with caution and monitor your hormones.
Why are turkey tail mushrooms good for men?
This is a trick question. Mushrooms, including turkey tail, can be beneficial for men (and women 😉 ) due to their immune-boosting, cancer-fighting, and gut health-supporting properties.
Are turkey tail mushrooms better than Lion’s Mane?
Turkey tail and Lion’s Mane mushrooms offer different health benefits, so it depends on your specific health concerns.
Turkey tail mushrooms are known for their immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties, while Lion’s Mane mushrooms are known for their cognitive and nerve health benefits.
Wrapping it up: are turkey tail mushrooms worth adding to your diet?
As we discussed above, turkey tail mushrooms have a strong research foundation supporting their use for immune system enhancement, cancer-fighting properties, and gut health improvement.
And as a certified nutritionist, I can personally vouch for their benefits, as I’ve incorporated turkey tail mushrooms into my own routine and have seen great results. They are very reasonably priced considering the potential health benefits and are virtually side-effect free.
However, it is important to remember that individual responses may vary, and the research is not 100% conclusive.
In my opinion, adding these to your diet might change your life (you know that I can’t say that it will for sure ), but the research definitely shows that they have some excellent health benefits, and I’m a huge fan!
So… if you’re looking to boost your immune system, support cancer treatment, or promote gut health, turkey tail mushrooms are definitely worth adding to your diet.
Try them and let me know your thoughts. Happy healing!
- Akramiene, D., Kondrotas, A., Didziapetriene, J., & Kevelaitis, E. (2007). Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas), 43(8), 597-606. Link
- Standish, L. J., Wenner, C. A., Sweet, E. S., Bridge, C., Nelson, A., Martzen, M., … & Torkelson, C. (2008). Trametes versicolor mushroom immune therapy in breast cancer. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, 6(3), 122-128. Link
- Ohwada, S., Ogawa, T., Makita, F., Tanahashi, Y., Ohya, T., Tomizawa, N., … & Ikeya, T. (2004). Beneficial effects of protein-bound polysaccharide K plus tegafur/uracil in patients with stage II or III colorectal cancer: analysis of immunological parameters. Oncology Reports, 11(4), 887-895. Link
- Hayakawa, K., Mitsuhashi, N., Saito, Y., Takahashi, M., Katano, S., Shiojima, K., … & Niibe, H. (1997). Effect of krestin (PSK) as adjuvant treatment on the prognosis after radical radiotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Anticancer Research, 17(5B), 3873-3876. Link
- Jayachandran, M., Xiao, J., & Xu, B. (2017). A critical review on health-promoting benefits of edible mushrooms through gut microbiota. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(9), 1934. Link
- Valdes, A. M., Walter, J., Segal, E., & Spector, T. D. (2018). Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ, 361, k2179. Link