Turkey tail mushrooms have been embraced by cultures all around the world since as early as the 15th century. Their nutritional claim to fame? Immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, memory-enhancing, and antioxidant-rich… just to name a few. But as research around the microbiome advances, so too has the understanding and appreciation of turkey tail’s other less-well-known but equally-as-impressive benefit: gut health.
The reason why this seemingly ordinary mushroom—which grows abundantly on dead and fallen trees, branches and stumps—is so beneficial for the gut is because of its adequate supply of prebiotics. Unlike probiotics (which are the good bacteria found in high-fiber foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt), prebiotics are what feed that bacteria. In other words, you need prebiotics in order for the probiotics to thrive.
Common sources of prebiotics include:
- Bitter greens: dandelion, chicory
- Whole grains: barley, oats
- Vegetables: leeks, asparagus, onion, garlic, jicama root, yacon root, burdock root
- Fruits: bananas, apples
And research now shows that turkey tail mushrooms contain statistically significant amounts of prebiotics, too. In fact, in an 8-week study, 24 healthy people that consumed 2600mg of Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) — a bioactive agent extracted from the mushroom — experienced beneficial changes in gut bacteria with suppressed growth of dangerous E. coli and Shigella bacteria strains (1).
Another test tube study showed similar results, as turkey tail extract was found to have modified the gut bacterial composition by increasing Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus (two strains of beneficial bacteria) while reducing Clostridium and Staphylococcus (two potentially harmful strains of bacteria)(2).
“The mycelium in the mushroom is what may help you have a smoother digestion process when supplementing with turkey tail mushroom,” said Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS, in an article published this past October (3). “The mushroom contains perfect prebiotics that assist the microbiome. This means that it can help the growth of the good bacteria in the body, including acidophilus and bifidobacterium, which is even more beneficial for anyone suffering from leaky gut syndrome.”
Indeed while its benefits on gut health are impressive, what’s perhaps more striking is the residual effects that a healthy gut has on one’s overall well being. For one, it facilitates the absorption of key nutrients such as B12 and vitamin D, reducing the risk of digestive illnesses such as colon cancer, IBS, colitis, and Crohn’s disease (4). But it has also been shown to increase energy and promote healthy weight loss.
So next time you sit down to your morning cup of coffee or afternoon pick-me-up, do your gut (and every other part of yourself) a favor by enhancing it with NeuRoast’s Organic Adaptogen Blend containing lion’s mane, cordyceps, chaga, reishi, shiitake and, yes, turkey tail.