Turkey Tail Mushroom & Your Immune System
Your immune system defends the body from infection (which comes in the shape of many different things!)
It is made up of a complex network of cells, tissues and organs in your body.
Think of it as your defense system against well literally everything!
It blows my mind when I think of how powerful and important this system is in our bodies.
We really need to take this thing seriously!
So we all have one, some better than others and all that can absolutely do with improving.
I’m sure you’ve heard of medicinal mushrooms by now and one of the most well-known is Trametes versicolor, also known as Coriolus versicolor - which outside of the science realm we refer to as Turkey Tail.
This mushrooms has existed around the globe for thousands of years and has a rich and deep history in many, many cultures used to treat quiet the array of conditions. Hey it got us this far!
One of the most incredible things Turkey Tail does is its ability to enhance the health & strength of your immune system.
Below are a few ways Turkey Tail mushroom can improve your Immune System.
1. Immune Function & Preventing Certain Cancers
Plenty of research (& much recently) has effectively demonstrated that turkey tail mushrooms may have antitumor properties, linking it to its immune-boosting effects.
One particular study found that PSK, the polysaccharopeptide (contained within the cells of Turkey Tail), inhibited the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells (study). This study is SO COOL! If you have the time definitely check it out.
2. Anti-oxidants & Free Radicals (not the kind of free you want)
Studies have proven that Turkey tail contains a huge & varied amount of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids
Antioxidants are a substance that inhibits oxidation, Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects. AKA we need as many anti-oxidants as we can get!!!
By not having enough anti-oxidants to fight off those free radicals we can increase the risk of developing diseases, such as certain cancers, Heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease & to some of us the worst of all premature aging!
So we need to increase our wonderful anti-oxidant intake to then boost our immune system to fight off those free radicals!
One study detected over 35 different phenolic compounds in a sample of turkey tail mushroom extract, along with the flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein - Phenol and flavonoid antioxidants promote immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds (source).
3. Enhancing Cancer Treatments
My favourite and by far the most impressive evidence regarding the anticancer benefits of turkey tail mushroom is when it’s used in conjunction with your typical/traditional treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation (study).
Due to the many beneficial compounds it contains, turkey tail is commonly used in tandem with traditional treatments like chemotherapy as a natural way to fight certain cancers. Did you know that in Japan - Turkey Tail mushroom is prescribed as a cancer treatment and in conjunction with use of typical/modern cancer therapy? In fact, for the Japanese, turkey tail mushroom extract is one of the most widely-used and well-known medicines for cancer.
‘A review of 13 studies found that patients given 1–3.6 grams of turkey tail mushroom per day along with conventional treatment had a significant survival advantage.
The study showed that people with breast cancer, gastric cancer or colorectal cancer treated with turkey tail and chemotherapy experienced a 9% reduction in 5-year mortality compared to chemotherapy alone (source).
Another review of 8 studies in over 8,000 people with stomach cancers demonstrated that those who were given chemotherapy along with PSK lived longer after surgery than individuals given chemotherapy without PSK (source).
A study in 11 women with breast cancer found that those who were given 6–9 grams of turkey tail powder per day following radiation therapy experienced an increase in cancer-fighting cells in the immune system, such as natural killer cells and lymphocytes (source).’ - healthline.com
4. Polysaccharopeptides (polywhatawho?)
Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) are two types of polysaccharopeptides found in turkey tail mushrooms - they both are powerful immune-boosting properties. They encourage the immune response by activating and inhibiting specific types of immune cells and by suppressing inflammation.
PSK stimulates ‘dendritic’ cells which increase immunity to toxins/harmful substances (like bacteria) and helps regulate this response - aka tell your immune system how to fight the nasties and then teaches it how to do it for future invasions.
5. Gut Health & Bacteria
So much information is coming out about the links between gut health and chronic even fatal diseases.
I’m still only new to the ‘gut health’ world but I think one thing is evident - you must have a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut to build and maintain a strong immune system.
The bacteria that is in your gut directly reacts with your immune cells and dictates your immune response - this is why it’s so important to get it right!
Turkey Tail mushroom has prebiotics - prebiotics promote the production and stimulation of good gut bacteria. Good gut bacteria is what fights & tells your immune cells to go destroy the bad bacteria and any other nasties that come their way.
Results from an 8-week study in 24 healthy people found that taking 3,600 mg of PSP extracted from turkey tail mushrooms per day led to increased positive changes in gut bacteria and slowed/stopped the growth of the problematic E. coli and Shigella bacteria (source).
Having healthy levels of good bacteria in your gut has been directly linked to enhanced immune systems, reduced cholesterol levels, lower risks of certain cancers and improved digestion (source).
Not even to mention some other studies that have found to help/assist in:
improving insulin resistance
helping to fight pathogenic bacteria (think staph, strep, uti’s)
treat HPV (simple like warts all the way to cervical cancer)
boost exercise performance (reduced fatigue & lower blood sugar levels at rest and post-exercise)
In summary, Turkey Tail does a lot of things - especially surrounding your immune system!
Perhaps you’re looking at assisting your cancer treatment, getting your gut health right or just looking to boost your immunity - Turkey Tail seems to have a few answers.