- Turkey Tail
Also referred to as Coriolus versicolor, Trametes versicolor and Polyporus versicolor, coriolus is basically an ordinary variety of polypore mushroom found growing all over the world. The term versicolor denotes “of several colors” and it perfectly describes this type of mushroom, which is found in several different hues. Since coriolus has resemblance to the numerous colors found on the tail of wild turkey, often this mushroom is also referred to as “turkey tail”.
The cap on the upper surface of the coriolus mushroom displays characteristic concentric zones of diverse colors. Some older specimens of coriolus may be found with zones hosting growing green algae. In such cases, the green algae will normally grow in different tiled layers. Originally, the color of the cap is darker brown or rust-brown and occasionally they may also have blackish zones. The cap can be described as flat and measuring about 8 cm x 5 cm x 0.5 cm to 1 cm in terms of area. Usually, the cap comes in a triangular or rounded shape having many zones of delicate hairs. The color of the pore surface of this polypore mushroom may vary from whitish to pale brown. The pores are usually round and as the mushroom ages they become twisted as well as labyrinthine. The cap of coriolus contains numerous pores – anything between 2 to 5 pores every millimetre.
It is rather easy to identify coriolus versicolor. It is as simple as making out the common dandelion. When you are well accustomed with the features of this polypore mushroom, it is unlikely that you will mistake coriolus for any other mushroom. Typically, coriolus does not have a stalk and has the potential to grow up to four inches in diameter. Coriolus has thick flesh measuring about 1 mm to 3 mm broad and its texture is somewhat leathery. The top surface of this polypore mushroom is soft as well as velvety having numerous attractive bands of differing widths and colors, which may vary from white, cream, black, grey, brown, green, orange, purple, red and beige. The edges on the outside are wavy and their color differs from white to greyish-white. The underside of coriolus is porous and it does not have gills! When the mushroom is young, the underside has a white color, while the color of older mushrooms’ pores is grey. The spore print of the mushroom is also white.
Coriolus offers several benefits, for instance, it is a very good decomposer of dead wood. This polypore mushroom grows in stratum and usually forms very large colonies. Sometimes, this mushroom is also found growing on the wounds of living as well as dying trees. Typically, coriolus grows on stumps, logs, snags and tree branches (oak in particular) fallen on the ground. Coriolus decomposes the components of these tree parts and returns the nutrients to the soil making it richer.
The potential effects of therapeutic mushrooms on our overall health were first discovered by people in the Asian cultures. In China, coriolus mushroom is known as yun zhi. For several centuries people there have been brewing this mushroom in the form of adaptogen tonic teas.
Coriolus mushroom possesses a natural aptitude to aid in increasing as well as activating the NK cells or natural killer cells. NK cells are exceptional immune cells which help to provide quick protective response against virally infected cells and tumorous growths. This mushroom works by acting more quickly compared to any other cells as they are able to identify pathogens and stressed cells.
NK cells are active on the surface (secretory) immunity, which forms the first line of our body’s defence as well as on the bone marrow reserve and immune system deep inside. In this way, NK cells essentially work in the form of a support resource for the secretory system. All these unique characteristics of the NK cells make them potentially useful for several autoimmune conditions, aside from cancerous tumours.
Since the levels of natural killer cells drop as well as deactivate after chemotherapy and radiation treatments considerably, the extract from turkey tail may especially be helpful in the form of a supplement when anyone is undergoing the above mentioned processes. Enhanced levels of NK cells can help in protecting patients from any further exposure or cancerous growths.
It has been found that coriolus mushrooms offer wonderful health benefits by combating cancer, particularly Human Papilloma virus. On the other hand, this mushroom also performs excellently for various other forms of cancers, including breast, esophageal, stomach and rectal cancers. Coriolus mushroom is packed with plenty of beta-glucans that work to stimulate the immune system into an advanced gear. In addition, this polypore mushroom helps to back up the immune system when one is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Turkey tail or coriolus mushroom attacks various chronic ailments, including different forms of cancers. Many studies have revealed that using turkey tail can help in regenerating spoiled bone marrow, in addition to curing cancers in humans. Even veterinary medicine uses this mushroom, especially for treating cancers in canines. Turkey tail mushroom is a potent antioxidant, which works to reinforce the immune system, enhance the energy levels and also alleviates pain without causing any adverse side effects. In addition, coriolus mushroom lessens phlegm, combats poor digestion, liver ailments, respiratory problems, inflammation, infections of the urinary tract, and hepatitis B.
Since coriolus has positive consequences on our immune system, it is assumed that it can also prevent development of cancer and assist in other health conditions wherein immune suppression is the main problem – for instance immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
The standard dose of turkey tail is anything between 2 grams to 3 grams in powdered form taken thrice every day. The powdered coriolus mushroom can be taken along with food or in the form of capsules. Scientists actually studied specific extract of turkey tail, which is known as PSP or PSK (those that concentrate on single polysaccharides in this polypore mushroom, leaving out all other compounds that may be potentially beneficial) and administered them in the amounts equal to the dosage of the powdered form of turkey tail.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that these extracts of coriolus mushroom are a little expensive compared to the powdered form of the whole herb. For several thousand years, people have traditionally used the crude form of turkey tail mushroom. Hence, it is not necessary that one should only use these special extracts of the turkey tail mushroom for effective results. One may also use the powdered or crude turkey tail.
Side effects and cautions
As of now, no adverse side effects have been reported from using turkey tail mushroom. It has been used for several thousand years by various Asian cultures and is currently being studied by scientists for its therapeutic benefits.
Here is a word of caution – you should never take turkey tail with any immunosuppressive drug, like those prescribed for people having undergone organ transplant. You essentially need to consult your doctor or health care provider before using this herb while taking an immunosuppressive drug.
How it works in the body
The polypore mushroom coriolus versicolor (turkey tail) is packed with loads of beta-glucans, which work to invigorate the immune system. This herb possesses the aptitude to regenerate as well as rejuvenate the body dramatically. The most active therapeutic constituents of this mushroom include biological modifiers, which are also known as protein-bound polysaccharides. In Japan these polysaccharides are called krestin or PSK, while people in China refer to them as yun zhi or PSK. Interestingly, some reports hinted that using coriolus versicolor for only a few days has helped in curing Bell’s palsy. Some other reports suggest that this herb is very effective in treating bronchitis.
Furthermore, some studies have also demonstrated that use of coriolus mushroom for just eight weeks helps to increase the level of natural killer cells in the body two-fold. In addition, it has been found that coriolus can be beneficial for patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. It may also be useful in treating Lyme disease.