A Beginner's Guide to Turkey Tail

A Beginner's Guide to Turkey Tail

Latin name: Trametes Versicolor
Alternative names
Kawaritake (Japan)
Cloud Mushroom
Yun Zhi (China)
Parts used: Fruiting Body


Immune System

The Turkey Tail Mushroom is renowned in Asia as a powerful immune booster. According to Dr Leanna Standish (a neuroscientist and a naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic oncology), “Mushrooms are incredibly important as nutrition and also medicine. Humans co-evolved with mushrooms. They are probably far more important in our biology than we imagine”. In explaining how they work, she goes on to say, "Natural products have multiple mechanisms of action, and it is very difficult scientifically to figure out all those mechanisms. But our bodies have evolved to rely on them." We now know that we're more closely related to fungi than we are to any other kingdom, we share the same pathogens, ie. bacteria and viruses.

Turkey Tail mushrooms are high in the protein bound polysaccharides PSK and PSP - both types of beta glucans. It is these compounds, that are thought to be responsible for its powerful immune boosting properties – improving the ability of the immune system’s natural killer cells which protect the body against viruses and bacteria.

Beta glucans provide receptors in the small intestine area that will keep the immune system strong and resilient. Turkey Tail has also been shown to modulate the immune system which further helps your body to fight off infections and illnesses. It is especially effective against the types of viruses responsible for causing colds and flu.

Digestive Health

Turkey Tail mushrooms contain prebiotics which assist the microbiome. They feed the good bacteria in the gut, in particular acidophilus and bifidobacterium which are very beneficial to anyone suffering from leaky gut syndrome, a precursor to many diseases such as Crohn’s, IBS and even autism.

A smoother digestion process will lead to better absorption of key nutrients, enhanced elimination of toxins, increased energy and vitality and healthy weight loss.

Folklore and history

Turkey Tail was mentioned in the first written text on medicinal herbs, Shennong Ben Cao Jing, (around 200 BCE – Han Dynasty). There is also a record in the Compendium of Materia Medica (Ben Cao Gang Mu) by Li ShiZhen (15th century – Ming dynasty). This references Turkey Tail's use in connection with vitality, healthy liver functions, and strong bones and muscles. It is an ancient indigenous medicine for different cultures around the world and can be found growing on many types of wood in warm and cold climates alike.

Most of its traditional use comes from Ancient China & Japan, where mushrooms were enthusiastically embraced in healing & medicine traditions. 

Traditional use

Turkey Tail has an ancient history of being used as a medicinal mushroom. In many Asian cultures, turkey tails in curving cloud forms symbolize longevity and health, spiritual attunement and infinity. It was traditionally brewed into a soothing tea and has been used for centuries in TCM to clear damp condition, increase energy, strengthen the lungs, stomach and spleen and to assist in convalescence from long-term diseases.

Typical use

Turkey Tail Mushroom Powder can be blended with a superfood smoothie, encapsulated, mixed with fruit juice, taken simply with water or sprinkled into food.

Suggested dosage range is 1-2g per day. It is recommended that the powder is added to a large glass of water (300ml) as taking it with water increases effectiveness.


Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain polysaccharides under basic research, including the protein-bound PSP, PSK, B-1,3 and B-1,4 glucans. The lipid fraction contains the lanostane-type tetracyclic triterpenoid sterol ergosta-7,22,dien-3B-ol as well as fungisterol and B-sitosterol.


None known, although it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

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