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NOW READING This Medicinal Mushroom Is Praised For Its Immune-Boosting And Cancer-Fighting Properties
January 27, 2021

This Medicinal Mushroom Is Praised For Its Immune-Boosting And Cancer-Fighting Properties

Meet Turkey Tail – The immune-boosting, anticancer super mushroom.


These days, we’re all looking for ways to give our immune system a little extra boost. In addition to best-practices like getting enough sleep, eating a colorful array of fruits and veggies, and frequent hand-washing, certain supplements have been shown to support immunity — and turkey tail is one to know. 




“Turkey tail can modulate immunity and inflammation, and improve the body’s resilience to bacteria and viruses and wear and tear,” says Dana Remedios RHN, NNCP, holistic nutritionist and Product Information Specialist at Flora Health. “It’s is deeply nutritive and nourishing to the immune system and overall health, and good for people who feel run down, get sick often, or tend to have digestive issues.”


Here’s the low-down on the immune-boosting supplement wellness experts are raving about, including what it is, how it works, and how to incorporate it into your own daily health routine.


What is Turkey Tail?


Turkey tail is a species of medicinal mushroom (technically called Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor), found on dead logs around the world (but don’t let that scare you off). It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to fight infection, as well as act as a general health tonic, says Remedios.


“The pretty fan-shaped rings of the mushroom are called the fruiting body, and the mycelium is the name of the underground root portion,” says Remedios. This former is where the mushroom gets its name — its brown and tan rings are reminiscent of turkey tail feathers. It’s also where most of the mushroom’s healing properties come from. 


turkey tail mushroom
Turkey Tail Mushroom


How Does Turkey Tail Work?


“[Turkey tail is] ‘immune-modulating,’ which means the turkey tail mushroom factors influence the immune system to adjust and prime its response by releasing important immune cells,” says Remedios. In other words, it gives your body a jump-start in activating its natural immune response — and the way it does so is actually very well-studied. 


The two notable compounds (called polysaccharopeptides) that are largely responsible for this are Krestin (PSK) & Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP). “Test-tube studies show PSP ups white blood cells that fight infection & boost immunity,” says Remedios. It also activates another type of white blood cell that helps protect against harmful bacteria and other substances, she adds. 


For this reason, it’s also often used in conjunction with cancer treatments. “It has been shown to improve the health outcomes in those receiving chemotherapy and radiation and reduce adverse events associated with chemo,” shares Remedios. Some wellness experts suggest that turkey tail even has anti-cancer properties, but this claim has not been confirmed by research studies. (For those on prescribed cancer treatments, please consult with your doctor).


In addition to PSP and PSK, turkey tail is chock full of antioxidants, which help fight against inflammation in the body (this can lead to a reduced immune response). It also contains prebiotics, which help support the balance of good gut bacteria (gut health has also been linked to the body’s immune response). 


Flora Health Immune•Essence
Flora Health Immune Essence


How Do You Take Turkey Tail?


Turkey tail and its immune-boosting powers can be found in a number of different products, including capsules and liquid extracts (such as tinctures, or water extractions). You could also chop it up to make a tea, but this is not as strong as an extract, says Remedios. In any case, turkey tail tends to be easy to digest and its nutrients are easily absorbed into the body, she adds.


As for when to take it, perspectives have shifted from taking it only when needed to using it as an immune-boosting supplement on a daily basis. “Traditionally, turkey tail tea was taken at the onset of cold or flu, however, many modern illnesses are more chronic, and to support people with chronic illness it can also be taken as a tonic (long term) to get the body into a better state of resilience and health,” says Remedios. 


Now more than ever, that’s something we can all toast our turkey tail to. 

Alexa is a Denver-based writer, editor, and marketing pro who covers all things wellness, travel, beauty, and lifestyle. She has written for Women’s Health, Woman’s Day, Runner’s World, Self Magazine. When she’s not crafting content, you can find her hiking or skiing (depending on the season), drinking red wine, or planning her next travel adventure.



Not just the amazing immune boost, skin help- mushrooms have so much great research for brain synapse and longevity of the mind in elderly. Wish I could use it( I am allergic)

I’m not going to lie I laughed a little when I saw the title of this article, maybe I’m the only ignorant person out there that hears medicinal mushrooms and automatically pictures my dad at the summer of love concert in the 60’s. My point is mushrooms can have a bad stigma or a mystery about them that some can’t look past and learn about their healing properties and I loved learning about this type of mushroom, turkey tail, that does just that...heal. The name of them doesn’t help the seriousness of their beneficially effects but I didn’t discover... Read more


Thanks for the kind words! It’s so true, despite the “connotations” around mushrooms, the healing properties we can find in nature are pretty incredible!

Wow what a great discovery ! I am a big fan of holistic medicine and immune boosting supplements, will definitely give it a try.


I'm a huge fan of Turkey Tail and recommend it. Just look at the studies and research behind it. Impressive.

I've never heard of these (aptly named) beautiful mushrooms, but will definitely give them a try. Gut health is so important yet vert often overlooked as a barometer of overall wellness. And antioxidants? Yes, please! I'll take ALL the antioxidants. Cheers!


YES to antioxidants!!!


I'm not a big fan of mushrooms, but this I can get behind!


I have seen this used in Chinese medicine. There's definitely a market for Eastern wholistic practices that can be applied to Western products. I'd like to see more cross border type formulations in the future of beauty!


I highly recommend taking Turkey Tail. There are so many strong studies behind it. I take Flora's Immune Essence and the Turkey Tail by Host Defense.


Wow this is very interesting. I don't consume mushrooms often but this definitely makes me want to start incorporating it into my diet!


I have this mushroom in a complex in my coffee in the morning , turkey tail , shiitake, chaga, reishi and more and I also drink reishi teas. I believe holistic , ingestible supplements are going to become more important. I prefer to mix the coffee with mushroom powder myself vs Pre made mix. Great article . Very informative.


Great idea to add it to coffee! Thanks for the kind words!


This is so fascinating. The mushroom itself is beautiful. Definitely going to look more into this!

I don’t know much about turkey tail so fascinated to learn more.