If you’ve made it to this blog post, we’re assuming that you’ve done your homework on what a turkey tail mushroom is and you’re now interested in adding turkey tail supplements into your daily health regimen. Bravo!
So, what’s next?
We’re here to support you as you take your next steps in your turkey tail mushroom journey.
In this article we discuss everything from the potential benefits of turkey tail mushroom supplements to the various types, side effects, and more.
First, let’s recap:
What is a turkey tail mushroom?
Just to review some information you’ve (likely) already come across in your turkey tail research, turkey tail mushrooms have long been considered one of the most researched, well-documented edible medicinal mushrooms. They are commonly used for immunotherapy and cancer care, but are also considered a great mushroom to consume regularly for overall health and wellbeing.
Now, let’s review the benefits of turkey tail:
What are the potential benefits to taking turkey tail mushroom supplements?
If you’re considering taking turkey tail supplements daily, it’s likely that you have heard or read about the health benefits associated with taking turkey tail.
Regular turkey tail supplement consumption has the potential to help with:
- Cancer treatment when taking alongside chemotherapy. This includes treatment for lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and more
- Gut health
- Antibacterial properties (e.g., salmonella or staph)
- Efficacy of certain cancer treatments
- Combatting HPV
- Athletic performance (increased energy)
- Insulin resistance
- Phlegm reduction
- Pulmonary disorders
To learn more about the potential health benefits of taking this edible mushroom, including some of the studies and clinical trial involved with these potential benefits, check out our recent blog post on turkey tail health benefits.
Now that we’ve covered the potential health benefits, let’s review the ways you can take turkey tail mushrooms daily.
The types of turkey tail mushroom supplements
It’s worth noting that turkey tail can be eaten as-is if found in the wild, but the jury’s still out with reviews on taste. (Always work with a qualified mycologist before consuming mushrooms from the wild.) The most common types of turkey tail supplements are powder, extract, tinctures, and capsules.
It’s also important to note that while eating pure, raw mushrooms is great for nutrition, you will want to look for a mushroom extract supplement if you want to truly reap the health benefits of mushrooms. We've got more on mushroom extraction here.
Why use turkey tail extract supplements? Because mushroom cell walls are made of a tough exterior called chitin which our bodies cannot break down fully. The beneficial compounds of a mushroom are hidden within that chitin. But with proper extraction technique, you can break down the tough chitin bonds and access the bioactive compounds more easily. That’s why many people choose to consume turkey tail in extract supplement format. Extraction makes the good stuff easier for our bodies to access (A LOT easier than simply consuming dehydrated or raw mushroom.)
If you’re not foraging for wild mushrooms, you’re likely looking to incorporate turkey tail supplements into your daily health regimen. Across all supplements, it’s recommended to find turkey tail products that contain mostly or all fruiting bodies for the best health benefits. There are some evidence that showcase the unique immune-boosting benefits of turkey tail mycelium in vitro. But unfortunately, some companies are not growing turkey tail mycelium with functional benefits in mind. If you’re taking turkey tail extract for medicinal benefits, always review the COA and sourcing details of your product.
Keep in mind, turkey tail contains the most beta-glucan content in the fruiting body. If they’re organic, that’s always a plus, too.
For supplements, you can take:
Turkey tail powder
Turkey tail powder, a.k.a. powdered turkey tail mushroom, has been used as a supplement for decades. The powder is created by drying (or dehydrating) crushed whole turkey tail mushroom bodies. Turkey tail powder often has a woody, soft taste that can be easily added into smoothies, coffee, tea (or even boiled as its own tea), various foods, and more. Turkey tail powder is great to use for a boost of antioxidants, nutrition, and fiber.
How can you add turkey tail powder to your diet?
The world is truly your oyster when it comes to adding turkey tail powder into your daily life. For dosage, it’s recommended to start at 1-3 grams of turkey tail powder daily and increase after baseline tolerance is established.
Mushroom powder is not always an extract. And that means you may not be getting the most functional benefit from the mushroom. Be careful when purchasing products to determine whether your turkey tail product is mushroom powder or mushroom powdered extract.
For the following three product types, it’s important to outline two key parts of the conversation before we dive into use and dosage recommendations. Let’s quickly discuss what the difference between mushroom extracts and tinctures are, and how this concentrate derivative process works.
Turkey tail extract (powder)
Turkey tail extract takes turkey tail powder and boils it down using a non-alcoholic liquid boiling process to make a liquid extract. Turkey tail extract powder is similar to regular turkey tail powder, but with more bioavailability of active compounds. This product can easily be added to your favorite beverage or food item. Dosage will vary by what your doctor recommends, and by the individual product, so please consult the directions before taking.
The general rule is to take 1mL of turkey tail extract (approximately 45 droplets) two times daily.
Turkey tail extract (capsules)
If turkey tail extract or tincture isn’t for you, consider taking it in a capsule format with turkey tail capsules. Recommended dosage is two “00” (e.g., 500 mg) capsules daily.
Turkey tail tincture
Turkey tail tincture comes in a liquid format. There are several methods to make a turkey tail tincture so it’s important to review your product’s process before buying.
For turkey tail, specifically, you’ll want to look for a hot-water extraction versus an alcohol extraction. Some companies make dual-extraction tinctures which utilize both hot-water and alcohol extraction techniques. Dual-extraction is acceptable as long as the company is using reputable processes and publishes the beta-glucan content in their guaranteed analysis.
Remember that beta-glucans are not soluble in alcohol. Always choose a hot water or dual-extraction product when using turkey tail supplements. Never use a pure alcohol extraction product for turkey tail.
Dosage will vary by bottle and product, so please consult the directions before taking - dosage will resemble turkey tail extract dosage (e.g., 1mL of turkey tail extract - approximately 45 droplets) two times daily).
Why to avoid alcohol extraction for turkey tail
When a mushroom is harvested, it’s first ground down into a fine powder. After that step is completed, it’s boiled in one of two ways: using a non-alcoholic liquid (e.g., glycerin, vinegar, oil, or water) or pure alcohol. The cooking process breaks down and releases the beneficial compounds of the mushroom, allowing the person taking the mushroom to fully reap the health benefits of the products.
There are also scenarios where products go through a dual-extraction process with both water and alcohol. This will be noted on the product bottle if that’s the case (usually the product will note: double or dual extraction)
Some medicinal mushroom products, like reishi and chaga benefit from an alcohol-based or dual-extraction process. Alcohol extraction is generally meant to make terpenoids more bioavailable (like the triterpenoids in reishi or diterpenoids in chaga). In a mushroom species like turkey tail, an alcohol extraction isn't a necessity and it may actually be a detriment to the product, because it can lower the beta-glucan content.
What is the difference between turkey tail extracts and turkey tail tinctures?
A turkey tail extract is a product that is created using a non-alcoholic liquid, like the ones listed above. A turkey tail tincture is a product derived from boiling the mushroom with pure alcohol. In both scenarios, turkey tail powder has been boiled to create a liquid format of the mushroom.
Beta-glucans are water soluble, so be careful if you’re choosing to use a turkey tail tincture for cancer support or other health applications to make sure it has significant bioavailable beta-glucan content. We don’t generally recommend using an alcohol-based tincture for turkey tail products.
When is the best time to take turkey tail?
There is no evidence to support that there is a better time of day to take turkey tail. It’s more important to evaluate the quality of your product, the beta-glucan content, and the proper dosage.
Let’s dive in:
Turkey tail for overall health:
For those who are looking to take turkey tail for general health and wellbeing, it’s recommended to take it once per day as a starting point and adjust accordingly over time. Dosage varies, but 1-3 grams per day of extract is an ideal starting point. If taking a capsule supplement, start by taking two “00” supplements per day (e.g., two 400-500 mg). After baseline tolerance is established, you can adjust accordingly.
Turkey tail as a cancer treatment aid:
Evidence suggests taking turkey tail mushrooms daily for up to 10 years has shown positive results for cancer patients. For example, a breast cancer patient that took turkey tail supplements (4 grams) daily saw faster immune recovery over a period of recovery time.
For both scenarios, time of day is not noted as mattering for health benefits in any studies or sourced materials. Please consult your doctor (oncologist) if you are undergoing cancer treatment before you start daily supplementation of turkey tail.
Potential turkey tail side effects & interactions
Overall, turkey tail mushrooms - and thus, turkey tail supplements - have had very little documentation of negative side effects to-date. The six potential side effects of taking turkey tail include:
- Cold/flu symptoms
- Constipation and stomach pain
- Darkened nail pigmentation
- Diarrhea (darkened stool)
You should likely avoid taking turkey tail mushrooms in any format if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, but it’s important to note that there have been no severe interactions with turkey tail mushrooms to-date.
Take a deeper dive into the information scientists have collected on turkey tail side effects by checking out our blog on turkey tail side effects and interactions.
Tips for getting the most from your turkey tail supplement
Curious how to get the most out of the turkey tail supplement you choose? We have some general tips to get you started on the right path. Look for products that are all ore mostly fruiting body, have a published COA, and use proper hot-water extraction techniques.
Here’s what to look for:
- All or mostly fruiting body content: The FDA does not require commercial mushroom products to reveal how or where the product was sourced. So it’s important to do a bit of your own research. Look for turkey tail extract products that contain all or mostly fruiting body. Most of the beta-glucan content in turkey tail is in the cap and step – not in the mycelium. Do not buy anything that is 100% mycelium, as it’s unlikely to give you the medicinal benefits you’re looking for.
- Evaluate the certificate of analysis: Legitimate mushroom companies will publish a certificate of analysis (CoA) that details the testing process, ingredients used, and methodology for their products. Turkey tail has some of the highest beta-glucan content of any mushroom variety. So you’ll want to look for a guaranteed beta-glucan analysis. The CoA can give some peace of mind that you’re choosing a product that’s been highly tested and contains only the good ingredients you’re looking to put into your body.
- Look for proper extraction: When reviewing a product, the extraction process will be broken down for you in the CoA provided by the company (see above for details). If the extraction process is important to you - and especially if you’d prefer an extract over a tincture - ensure you’re reviewing the company’s extraction process. Remember that beta-glucans are not soluble in alcohol. And therefore, turkey tail extract products tend to out-perform alcohol extraction and tincture products.
Choosing a turkey tail mushroom supplement that’s right for you
At the end of the day, finding which turkey tail mushroom supplement is the best option for you is dependent on one thing and one thing only: YOU. Use this blog post as your starting point, and consult our other posts for more information on:
- The Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
- Turkey Tail Mushroom Potential Side Effects & Interactions