Native to forests throughout the world, the mushroom known as turkey tail is gaining increasing interest for its beneficial impact on the digestive and immune systems.
Turkey tail has been brewed into a tea for thousands of years in Japan and China, and it has been consumed as a food and to support health throughout Asia, across Europe and by many First Nation tribes. Any forest with dead hardwoods is fertile ground for turkey tails – known as Yun Zhi (cloud-like mushroom) in the Chinese tradition and as kawaratake (mushroom by the river bank) in Japan. Its fan-like shape and bands of subdued colors inspired the name of turkey tail.
Immune system support
Turkey tail has a beneficial impact on both the innate immune system and the acquired immune system response, and it supports their working together. The B-glucans in turkey tail stimulate an innate immune system response – the broad front-line defense system that is triggered when our bodies are confronted with a problematic substance. They also have a regulatory and strengthening effect on our acquired immune system – which supports production of antibodies and inflammatory cytokines.
In vivo studies have indicated that turkey tail supports resistance and individuals with restore suppressed or depressed immune responses. It has been shown to promote production of interferon, and it is rich in antioxidants – which help protect the liver, our most important detoxifying organ. Its antioxidant qualities that reduce free radicals also help support our nervous system, which can diminish the detrimental effects of stress and other negative emotions that often accompany illness.
Many studies are underway to discover how several of its unique proteins and polysaccharides support immune system function. Bastyr University and the University of Minnesota have received $2.4 million in research grants for exploring extracts of the mushroom for a variety of potential outcomes, including enhanced natural killer (NK) cell activity.
A randomized clinical trial determined that turkey tail functions as a successful prebiotic, helping to encourage the growth of beneficial microflora. Supporting gut health improves immune system function, increases energy and mental clarity, and promotes digestion of essential minerals and nutrients, like vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Turkey tail delivers a powerful combination of prebiotic and antioxidant properties.
Mushrooms contain many constituents not found in plants. They are actually closer in biology to animals than plants are. Mammalian and fungal cells have remarkable similarity, and both mammals and fungi take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Importantly, fungal defense systems have evolved to provide defense against many of the same substances that can create problems for humans.
Turkey tail mushrooms are safe, as proven by an extensive history of use across multiple cultures, and they combine well with other mushrooms and botanicals.
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