If you’ve been diagnosed with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), you might be feeling overwhelmed, scared, and unsure of where to turn next.
Luckily, there are some natural supplements that can help you get on top of your HPV symptoms, including one that most people haven’t heard of before: turkey tail mushrooms.
In this article, you’ll learn how turkey tail mushrooms may be able to help you treat your HPV symptoms and possibly help to prevent future infections from occurring.
Understanding the basics of HPV
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around 150 types of HPV, at least 40 of which infect the genital area. But in most cases, the viral infection is self-limiting. Which means that most people aren’t even aware they have it because no symptoms manifest.
In fact, most sexually active people will be exposed to HPV.
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, affecting 20 million people per year. An estimated 79 million Americans have been infected with HPV at some point in their lives.
There are two main types of HPV to be concerned about: low-risk and high-risk.
- Low-risk HPV, which includes the strains HPV 6 and 11, is generally considered harmless because it cannot cause cancer. It can, however, cause genital warts. Despite a relatively low health risk, genital warts don’t feel harmless to those who have them. Genital warts can vary in general size and location. HPV warts can appear on the vaginal introitus, vagina, cervix, penis, urethra, perineum, perianal skin, scrotum, or anus.
- High-risk HPV, which includes strains 16 and 18, has been linked to several forms of cancer including cervical, vaginal, penile and anal cancers.
What are the current treatment options for HPV?
Treatment options for HPV resulting in genital warts typically focuses on removing the warts themselves. But the treatment method will vary depending on the number of warts, the size of the warts, and the placement of the warts. Treatment of warts should also include emotional support.
Despite numerous treatment options which are used regularly, there is no evidence supporting that one option is any better than another.
Common treatment of HPV warts includes:
- Various creams and topical ointments including Imiquimod, Podofilox, and Sinecatechins
- Cryotherapy or Cryoprode - which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the warts off
- Surgery - Which can involve a variety of removal methods including scissor excision, shave excision, electrosurgery, laser surgery, and/or curettage
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or bichloroacetic acid (BCA)
For more about these traditional HPV treatment methods, view the CDC’s guide here.
The CDC also lists a handful of other alternative treatment methods but doesn’t necesarily recommend them due to limited research.
Alternative treatment to warts include:
- Podophyllin resin - a is a topical resin made from mandrake root
- Intralesional interferon - an injection which is a synthetic version of the interferon our bodies already make to fight infections
- Photodynamic therapy - This is a popular treatment method for acne and that some believe may be helpful for warts
- Topical cidofovir - Is a broad-spectrum antiviral agent
While these treatment options may be readily available and effective for some, many patients look to alternative treatments like turkey tail mushrooms to alleviate their symptoms without the need for traditional treatment methods like surgery or pharmaceutical drugs.
But what are turkey tail mushrooms?
How do they fight against HPV?
And how can you start taking them today?
Keep reading to find out!
What are turkey tail mushrooms?
Turkey tail mushrooms grow in clusters on dead hardwood trees, particularly poplar and oak. They get their nickname from their distinctive coloring which strongly mimic’s a turkey’s tail.
Turkey tail mushrooms are what’s known as a medicinal mushroom, which is basically a fungus that humans have used to treat ailments throughout history. Turkey tail mushrooms are packed with powerful compounds that have been linked to successful anti-virtal, anti-biotic, and anti-cancer treatments. Although more research needs to be completed.
Read more about the health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms here.
To understand how turkey tail mushrooms can be used to help treat HPV, it’s helpful to understand these powerful compounds in more detail.
Let’s dive in. Turkey tail mushrooms contain:
- PSPs - protein bound polysaccharide - This is a class of bioactive compounds that are particularly high in turkey tail mushrooms. This compound has been studied for its ability to improve the effectiveness of Natural Killer cells and shows strong antitumor properties.
- Beta-Glucans - Are soluble fibers found in the cell walls of turkey tail. While many mushrooms have high levels of beta-glucans, turkey tail has one of the highest concentrations of this powerful compound. Research shows that beta-glucans are a powerful immune stimulant and can help to prevent infections.
- PSK - polysaccharide-k, also known as krestin - Is an approved mushroom product already used for cancer treatment in Japan. Studies show early success for those with gastric cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and more.
More research needs to be done in order to fully understand the true medicinal benefit of turkey tail mushrooms.
But it’s possible that the immune response triggered by these compounds can correlate to those fighting or wanting to prevent future HPV infections.
Clinical trial results for treating HPV with turkey tail
The most widely referenced study of turkey tail mushrooms for HPV is this one:
Control of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) by medicinal mushrooms, Trametes versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum: a preliminary clinical trial LINK
In this randomized study, 61 patients tested positive HPV serotypes 16 and 18 (which is an oral type of HPV). Among this group of 61 patients, 20 were given an extract of Laetiporus sulphureus (LS) - or hen of the woods mushroom. The other 41 patients were given an extract of Trametes versicolor (TV) and Ganoderma lucidum (GL) - which is turkey tail and reishi mushrooms.
Let's break down the scientific names you're seeing:
Turkey tail and reishi share similar compounds to those listed above, and both are widely considered to be powerful medicinal mushrooms. Hen of the woods (also known as maitake) is a gourmet mushroom. Read more about maitake here.
What were the results? The group of 41 patients given turkey tail and reishi had 88% clearance compared to only 5% in the group given hen of the woods.
The study suggests further research on the application of turkey tail and reishi for oral HPV.
A few important things to keep in mind about this study:
- The study size is really quite limited. Although the results seem really compelling for further research
- The study only looked at oral HPV, and not the strains that lead to cancer or genital warts
However, many people feel the results are powerful enough to use turkey tail for HPV treatment. Especially in tandem with traditional treatments and therapies.
If you’d like to try using turkey tail to help support your HPV treatment, here are some guidelines.
What to look for in a turkey tail product for HPV treatment:
- 100% Fruiting Body: Until there is more regulation in the mushroom supplement industry, you’ll want to look for a product that uses 100% mushroom fruiting body. As a majority of the medicinal compounds are found in the mushroom cap itself. Many products blend mushroom mycelium (the root structure) in with the product in order to bulk it up. And while there is some debate over mycelium vs fruiting body, if you’re looking to use a product for treatment of a virus, we recommend choosing a potent product with 100% fruiting body.
- Mushroom Extract: Without getting too scientific, many of the medicinal compounds we listed above are hidden beneath the mushroom’s tough exterior cell walls. And our bodies have a really hard time accessing those compounds if we eat mushrooms dried as powder. The most medicinal value is achieved when turkey tail is extracted using hot water, alcohol, or a dual extraction. This allows our bodies to more easily access the compounds avaialble.
- COA and Guaranteed Analysis: A COA is a certificate of analysis which shows a guaranteed analysis of safety, mushroom content and volumes, chemicals and harmful toxins, and most importantly, beta-glucan percentages. Not all mushrooms and mushroom products are created equal. Third-party lab testing helps to ensure you’re getting the best possible product.
One important note: The HPV study combined turkey tail with reishi. If you want to learn more about the powerful benefits of reishi, check out this article.
Below, we’ll showcase the top brands for both turkey tail and reishi products.
How to treat HPV using turkey tail
Remember, there is no substantial research supporting turkey tail as a proven or effective method for HPV treatment. So make sure you talk to your doctor about all of your options and how natural remedies can support more traditional treatment options.
But if you want to try turkey tail supplements as part of your treatment plan, we’ve put together some best practices for you.
Turkey tail supplements are generally considered safe and with very few side effects. After all, turkey tail is just an edible mushroom with many powerful benefits! Allergic reactions are possible.
Always start small, and ask your doctor how turkey tail may interfere with your current treatment plan.
- Turkey Tail Tinctures: Turkey tail tinctures are a concentrated liquid extract of turkey tail mushroom. Many tinctures are dual extracted, allowing you to benefit from both water- and alcohol-soluble compounds. Better yet, tinctures are easy for our bodies to digest and are fast-acting. Turkey tail tinctures can have a somewhat earthy and bitter taste. Take it directly under your tongue. Or simply add it to your morning tea or coffee.
- Turkey Tail Extract Powders: Are another option if you prefer to take your turkey tail as a tea. Simply measure out your dose, add your hot tea water, steep for 3-5 minutes, add honey, lemon, ginger, or anything else to make it more appealing to you, and enjoy. Mushroom tea has been used for thousands of years for a variety of ailments and is still widely believed to be one of the best methods to take mushroom supplements today
You may also consider turkey tail capsules or gummies, but if you’re particularly concerned about getting the most medicinal benefit, tinctures and extract powders are likely your best options. That's because tinctures and teas from powder have thousands of years of history as an herbal remedy.
Then, perhaps consider switching to a trusted capsule or gummy brand for long-term maintenance of your symptoms.
Looking for more? Check out our article on mushrooms for sexual health and vitality.
The proper dosage of turkey tail for HPV
Not much is known about the appropriate dosage amounts for turkey tail and HPV. In the clinical trial listed above, patients were given 400 mg of turkey tail and reishi (dried and ground in capsules) daily for two months which lead to nearly full clearance of the group receiving that amount.
No adverse effects were reported.
Generally speaking, your dosage should depend on the severity of your symptoms, your individual body chemistry, weight, and many other factors.
Treatment using turkey tail and reishi can reach up to 1,000 mg per day - or one gram. This is generally considered a safe and effective daily dosage for treatment and maintenance for medicinal applications.
More research needs to be done to determine appropriate dosing. Until then, we recommend you start very small and evaluate your personal side effects. Then, adjust your dosage from there. Refer to your supplement package directions for additional dosage considerations.
We put together a complete guide to taking turkey tail supplements here.
Trusted turkey tail products to try:
As we stated, none of these products claim to treat any ailment. But they can be used in conjunction with other therapies as a natural supplement to help boost your body’s immune response.
At Remeday, we’ve done extensive research into the top mushroom brands and believe the following to be the best of the best out there:
1. Life Cykel - Turkey Tail+ Tincture:
Life Cykel is one of the first leaders in the mushroom supplement space and have remained there due to their commitment to quality products. The Turkey Tail+ tincture is dual extracted. And while it does contain mushroom mycelium, the third-party lab tests show strong medicinal value for this product.
2. RealMushrooms - 5 Defenders Immune Powder – 45g Bulk Powder:
The benefit to this powder is it combines two of the powerful mushrooms used in the HPV study, turkey tail and reishi. But you’re also getting some other powerful mushrooms in this mix, including shiitake, maitake, and chaga.
Aptly named as the immunity “Defender” mix, this powder boasts 100% fruiting body, 100% extract, no mycelium or grain, USDA organic, and comes with the trusted name of RealMushrooms. RealMushrooms brand also carries turkey tail and reishi powders and capsules in case you want to stick to the classics separately.
3. FreshCap - Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract Powder:
The ideal powder if you’re looking for 100% medicinal turkey tail fruiting body, transparent COA and beta-glucan percentages, and a trusted company to support your treatment. Available as powders and capsules for both turkey tail and reishi, this is a great option for those looking to add powder to coffee, tea, smoothies, and other foods.
4. Rainbo - Turkey Tail Immune Health Supplement Tincture
If tinctures are more your speed, then Rainbo is one of your best bets. Not only are they a reputable company - using 100% organic fruiting bodies and a trusted extraction process, but the brand is also committed to education, giving back to communities, and social justice.
The future of turkey tail for HPV
With so many people suffering from the symptoms of HPV, we hope researchers continue to consider natural remedies like turkey tail and reishi as possible treatment options. Have you had success treating HPV with turkey tail? Let us know what products you used by contacting us!