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For centuries the healing “power” of mushrooms has been used medicinally around the world. In the last few decades, scientific research has been proving that certain mushrooms are a powerhouse of potent compounds that have the ability to help support and regulate the immune system. This means mushrooms might not only help us defend against the cold and flu, but they’re also making waves in other areas of treatment and research. And one of the most well-studied beneficial mushrooms that is revealing itself as a potent immune-booster is the turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor and Coriolus versicolor).
What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?
A tough, woody mushroom, you won’t find turkey tail sitting next to the culinary-friendly shiitakes and portobello mushrooms at the grocery store. But if you ever walk through wooded areas, you may have unknowingly already come across it on your travels. A super common mushroom in North America and forests across the world, you can find turkey tail growing mainly on the bark of dead trees, logs, and fallen branches.
All you need is just one look at a turkey tail mushroom and you’ll understand its name is a perfect fit. Considered a “bracket-style” mushroom, turkey tail grows in layers of fan-like clusters with bands of colors that look exactly like the tail of a wild turkey. As common as the turkey tail mushroom may be, it’s as beneficial to our health and immunity as it is beautiful.
What are the Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom?
Known as Yun Zhi in Chinese medicine, and Kawaratake in Japan, turkey tail mushrooms have a variety of important health benefits. But their most well-known and well-researched health benefit is the way they can stimulate immune function.
Like other medicinal mushrooms, the powerful health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms lie in something called beta-glucans. Indigestible fiber made of chains of complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides, beta-glucans are what gives structure to the mushroom’s own cell wall. A variety of beta-glucans can be found throughout nature. But it’s the very special structure of the ones found in turkey tail (referred to as PSK and PSP), that have been proven in studies to help regulate our immune system by increasing or decreasing the action of certain immune cells, promoting immunity to toxins and germs as well as suppressing inflammation. (1), (2), (3)
Not only have beta-glucans been shown in studies to help support immunity and stimulate immune cells, they also can act as antioxidants, support healthy cholesterol and balance blood sugar. (4) They’re so effective in fact, that specialized turkey tail extracts are currently used as complementary therapy in China and Japan. Heavily researched since the 1970’s many studies also suggest that turkey tail mushrooms may have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. (5)
Turkey Tail Mushroom May Help The Common Cold and Flu
Besides supporting the immune system, turkey tail has long been believed to have antiviral and antimicrobial properties and may be beneficial to take at the first signs of the common cold or flu, fever or when you may be traveling.  In combination with other healthy choices, turkey tail mushroom can be a powerful and supportive tool in boosting your immune defense when you’re feeling under the weather.
Turkey Tail Mushroom May be Antiviral
One research study found that 88% of people with oral HPV given turkey tail experienced total clearance after two months of treatment. Only 5% of the control group experienced the same result (7)
Turkey Tail Mushroom is High in Antioxidants
Turkey tail’s rich source of antioxidants like phenols and flavonoids, may help to reduce damage from free radicals which can cause cell damage and inflammation in the body. Antioxidants can also help to improve immune function. ( 8, 9 )
Turkey Tail Mushroom May Promote Healthy Digestion
A rich source of prebiotics, turkey tail has shown in studies to be beneficial when it comes to a healthy gut. (10) One study found that consuming 3,600 mg of beta-glucans extracted from turkey tail mushrooms per day over 8 weeks led to beneficial changes in gut bacteria and inhibited the growth of bad bacteria like E. coli and Shigella bacteria (11). Another study found that turkey tail extracts increased populations of beneficial bacteria while reducing potentially harmful bacteria (12).
What to Look for in a Turkey Tail Mushroom Supplement
If you want to add turkey tail to your routine, you’ll find it comes in a variety of supplemental forms in tinctures, capsule form, or even teas. But be aware that not all turkey tail mushroom supplements may be giving you the benefits that you’re paying for.
In a high quality turkey tail supplement, you want to see on the label that it’s derived from what is called the “fruiting body” of the mushroom. The fruiting body, or the top part of the mushroom which produces spores (also the part we like to eat from edible mushrooms), is where most of the beneficial compounds are contained. Other products on the market commonly use what is called the mycelium, or root system of the mushroom in their formulas. Mycelium-based formulas do not contain as much of the same beneficial immune-boosting beta-glucans as found in the top part of the mushroom.
In fact, most of the polysaccharides in these formulas actually come from the grain-based medium that the mycelium is grown on. One Consumer Labs study found after analyzing a variety of Reishi mushroom mycelium-based products, that the so-called beneficial polysaccharides in these formulas were actually alpha glucans instead of desired beta-glucans. And even those were found to come directly from the brown rice growth media that the mushrooms were grown on.
Immune•Essence™ from Flora Health Combines the Power of Turkey Tail Mushrooms with 9 Other Powerful Herbs
It’s this lack of good turkey tail mushroom product on the market that led Flora Health to release their new Immune Essence. Immune Essence combines only the fruiting body of the turkey tail mushroom, with the same 8 healthy certified organic herbs found in their famous detoxifying Flor•Essence® formula.
In addition to turkey tail mushroom, Immune Essence includes potent superfoods like turmeric and burdock.
Turmeric – Believed to be one of the most powerful superfoods on earth, this anti-inflammatory functional food, popular in Ayurvedic medicine has been thoroughly studied in over 12,500 peer-reviewed articles. Its long list of benefits includes an ability to fight inflammation and pain, prevent indigestion, and support liver health.
Burdock Root – A rich source of prebiotics, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, Burdock root is considered a Jack of all trades when it comes to herbal medicine. Proven in studies to be a blood purifier, burdock root can also promote healthy digestion and gut health while supporting the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic health to remove wastes and toxins from the body. (14, ,15)
Other herbs in this formula include rhubarb root, sheep sorrel, slippery elm bark, watercress, blessed thistle, red clover, and kelp. Full of nourishing vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, together these herbs work together to:
- Cleanse and detoxify at the cellular level.
- Purify the blood.
- Reduce excess fluids and toxins.
- Normalize digestion
- Increase energy
- Boost the immune system
- Protect the body from free radical damage with antioxidants
If you’re looking to get the immune benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, Immune Essence from Flora Health is a unique formula that can offer you a variety of health-promoting benefits.
How Much Turkey Tail Mushroom is in Immune Essence
Each daily dose of the Immune Essence tonic will supply you with about 3.5 grams (3500 mg) of whole fruiting body turkey tail mushroom. Each Immune Essence suggested dose is 3 tablespoons, taken three times per day.
How to Take Immune-Essence
To get the most out of Immune-Essence, it’s best to sip 3 tablespoons of Immune-Essence diluted with hot water, about 30 minutes before eating. For best results, be sure to stick with Immune-Essence for several weeks as a restoring tonic for your digestive system, immune system, and organs of elimination.
As with any supplement, consult with your doctor and start slowly.
For an immune boosting recipe, try this Immune-Essence Turkey Tail Ginger Tonic Tea!
With other potent healthy immune boosters like ginger and Manuka honey, try Immune Essence in this relaxing and rejuvenating immune-boosting tea recipe. It’s perfect for when you’re feeling under the weather or want a pick-me-up.
Immune-Essence Turkey Tail Ginger Tonic Tea
- 1 ginger tea bag or tsp of fresh grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons Flora Immune-Essence
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 8 oz hot water
- 2 teaspoons honey preferably Flora Manuka honey
- Add ginger tea bag or fresh ginger to a mug.
- Top with 8 oz of hot water and allow to steep for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the Immune Essence, lemon juice, and honey.
- Give it a stir and enjoy your nourishing immune-supporting tea!
Visit florahealth.com to buy Immune Essence or to learn more about the benefits of turkey tail mushroom.