By Amber Testa, CN Supplements Buyer & Armchair Mycologist
Kingdom Fungi is a diverse place, and the names within it reflect it. Among mushrooms you'll find specimens with such descriptive names as Latticed Stinkhorn (clathrus ruber), Amethyst Deceiver (laccaria amethystina), and Bleeding-Tooth (hydnellum peckii). As beautiful as these names are, they're also fairly literal--it's not hard to imagine why the early discoverers of hericium erinaceus thought it resembled a lion's mane!
So understandable, too, is the nomenclature of the mushroom trametes versicolor. One look at this fanlike fungus, with its wide bands of copper, rust, and gray, and you'll immediately understand why it earned the name Turkey Tail. It resembles nothing so much as the fanciful feathers of those enormous birdies that grace Thanksgiving decorations (and sometimes menace drivers along Cambridge's Massachusetts Avenue in autumn).
Turkey Tail isn't just a pretty polypore, though. For years, humans have tapped into the health benefits of this fabulous fungi. The mushroom was formally described as early as 1753 by famed Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, though it was known to Indigenous communities worldwide long before that. It's native to colder regions throughout North America and Europe, where it is often strikingly recognizable against the bare autumn trunks of trees. Indeed, it is at its best in autumn, when the mushroom releases its reproductive spores. Turkey Tail is not generally used as a culinary mushroom due to its flocked, leathery texture and unappealing taste, but the potential health benefits it offers have made it the subject of much contemporary research.
Modern scientific explorations have revealed that Turkey Tail contains high levels of antioxidants, chemicals that are known to prevent cell damage from free radicals. It also possesses substances called polysaccharopeptides, immune-boosting carbohydrates that inhibit inflammation and encourage the production of monocytes (a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection). There's also some research into the potential for Turkey Tail to increase the efficacy of some cancer treatments when used in tandem with contemporary medical practices, although studies remain in the early stages.
The gut microbiome is lately a subject of renewed interest among laypeople and biologists alike, and the Turkey Tail mushroom plays a part in it. As a potent source of prebiotics, the fungus nurtures the good bacteria in your digestive tract, helping your gut bacteria to maintain a healthy balance and remain strong against hostile microbes that can cause problems like bloating, gas, and impaired digestion.
In short, Turkey Tail isn't just a pretty face--it's a potent source of beneficial chemicals to support your health. At Cambridge Naturals, we stock a variety of products made with Turkey Tail, including capsules, tinctures, and powder, and we even carry the dried mushroom itself in our fabulous bulk section! You can check out our selection of Turkey Tail products here, and avail yourself of the benefits of this fabulous fungus today.
The information in this blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.