The wellness industry is obsessed with functional mushrooms right now. And what's not to love about them? Numerous studies indicate that these mushrooms boast nutritional benefits and healing properties. Furthermore, medicinal mushrooms have long been used as an all-natural treatment for various diseases in traditional cultures in Asia, Europe, and North America.
From supplements to wellness drinks, two major functional mushrooms are everywhere: Chaga and Turkey tail. Each mushroom has a different taste, texture, and contribution to the body. So, Chaga vs. Turkey tail mushrooms, which one is better?
Chaga vs. Turkey Tail: How Does Their Appearance Differ?
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) and Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes Versicolor) are medicinal mushrooms that are worlds apart. The former is a parasitic fungus that looks like burnt charcoal, while the latter is a glorious-looking mushroom resembling a turkey's tail.
Appearance aside, Chaga is known for its ability to calm frazzled nerves. The polypore fungus also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties, making it a much sought-after ingredient in skin care products.
Read More: Learn more about the Chaga skin benefits.
On the other hand, Turkey tail mushrooms are revered for their anticancer benefits(1). According to research, the compounds in the fungi show promise as a complementary treatment for people with cancer. In addition, these fungi are also a powerhouse of antioxidants.
Undoubtedly, the mushroom that grows on birch trees (Chaga) and the attractive Turkey Tail mushroom can act as an alternative medicine for numerous human health conditions. However, the two mushrooms do have some distinct benefits. Let's explore Chaga vs. Turkey tail: their unique benefits, and which mushroom is the right one for you!
Turkey Tail Mushroom Vs. Chaga Benefits
Both Chaga and Turkey tail mushrooms share many bioactive metabolites and health benefits. However, the mushrooms also boast unique characteristics.
For example, the Chaga mushroom is packed with bioactive metabolites such as triterpenes and polysaccharides like beta-glucans. On the other hand, the turkey tail mushroom is rich in polysaccharopeptides, contributing to its incredible health benefits.
Read More: See all the health benefits of turkey tail mushrooms.
Owing to these compounds, each of these medicinal mushrooms has distinct health benefits. However, let's explore the unique properties of Turkey tail vs. Chaga that make them stand out.
Chaga Mushroom Benefits
Chaga mushrooms have a unique set of benefits that make them stand out. Below, we will analyze these benefits to see how Chaga differs from turkey tail mushrooms.
Chaga Mushrooms: Black Gold For The Skin
Chaga is highly revered in the skincare and beauty industry. The mushroom is incorporated into skincare products as a key ingredient and is believed to help maintain youthful skin.
Inonotus obliquus(2) is rich in melanin, the pigment that can absorb the skin-damaging UV rays from the sun. Therefore, consuming the mushroom or using Chaga-enriched skin care products can minimize the damage from prolonged sun exposure and act as a natural sunscreen.
Chaga's Betulinic acid(3) also supports and maintains healthy skin. The compound helps in skin restoration and rejuvenation, giving it a youthful look.
Chaga Mushrooms Improve Your Hair Health
Regarding helping you maintain a youthful look, Chaga is a multi-functional mushroom. In addition to improving your skin, Chaga also improves the health of your hair.
A research study conducted in 2019(4) analyzed the effect of Chaga mushrooms on hair health. The research study concluded that one of the benefits of Chaga mushroom extract for hair is that it promotes the growth of hair follicles. According to the study, the triterpenes in Chaga mushrooms are more potent than Minoxidil, a drug used to treat baldness and hair loss. Chaga is one of the most effective mushrooms for hair growth and healthy hair, and its stimulative health benefits on hair growth have been used in traditional Chaga hair shampoos in Mongolia.
As noted earlier, the Chaga mushroom carries a vital pigment known as melanin. This essential component of Chaga mushroom supplements also plays a crucial role in improving hair health—it fights hair pigmentation. Improving the levels of melanin in your body, Chaga mushrooms—whether in tincture, powder, or tea form—help your hair retain its natural color.
Read More: Learn how to use Chaga powder for maximum health benefits.
Stress is a leading cause of hair loss. An article published in 2020 on Forbes(5) noted that stress is associated with at least one type of hair loss: telogen effluvium. Chaga mushroom is an adaptogen—that is, it helps the body adapt to stress. The mushroom supplement prevents hair loss by enabling the body to deal with stress more effectively.
Chaga Protects Our DNA
One of the lesser-known benefits of Chaga is that it can protect human DNA. The antioxidant content of the Chaga mushroom is high.
According to the ORAC score(6), Chaga has the highest antioxidant concentration among naturally occurring foods. The antioxidant strength of food is determined by the Oxygen Radical Absorbancy Capacity (ORAC) score. With an ORAC score of 146,700, Chaga provides 1300x more antioxidant support than blueberries and 80x more than pomegranates.
Chaga's high ORAC value is due to melanin and polyphenols. A healthy body requires a delicate balance of free radicals and oxidants.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cellular DNA and speed up aging. A disruption in the free radical-antioxidant balance can cause oxidative stress. Superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD) finds and eliminates the body's free radicals. Chaga mushrooms protect our DNA by fighting free radical damage with their high SOD content.
Chaga: The Adaptogen Marvel
One of the qualities we most love about the Chaga mushroom is that it is an adaptogen. These are substances that increase the body's capacity to withstand stress. They accomplish this by supporting the adrenal glands, the organs in charge of releasing stress hormones from the body.
This is crucial, especially in light of the numerous illnesses definitively linked to stress (like Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression, and anxiety). A Chaga supplement helps the body balance by reducing the overall amount of stress hormones released by the body at the molecular level, therefore boosting overall health.
Read More: See how Chaga fights high blood pressure.
Additionally, adaptogen mushrooms like Chaga support memory function, blood sugar regulation, inflammation reduction, and metabolism regulation. This indicates that Chaga extract can be used for chronic conditions like diabetes, whose main symptom is elevated blood glucose levels.
Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits
One of the most known traditional Chinese medicine, turkey tail mushroom, does have its unique health benefits—the benefits of this medicinal mushroom include the following.
Turkey Tail: The Cancer Warrior
Among all the benefits of Turkey tail mushrooms, the one that stands out is its ability to help with cancer treatment. Also, like Lion's mane mushroom, Turkey tail mushrooms aid with cancer prevention, reducing the risk of developing the disease.
Turkey Tail mushroom's claim to fame is a substance known as polysaccharide-K(7) (PSK), which has been approved as an adjunct to cancer treatment and has been shown to increase survival rates for those with specific cancers. The bioactive compound also boosts the immune systems of chemotherapy patients.
In cancer patients, Trametes Versicolor extracts can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, speed up their demise, and even directly kill them by regulating the immune response. As a result, the mushroom is regarded as one of the most potent all-natural treatments for various cancers, according to ancient Chinese pharmacopeia(8). Research indicates(9) that the turkey tail mushroom has been used in Japan to boost immunity during conventional cancer treatment.
Numerous clinical and preclinical studies(10) have revealed the anticancer properties of the mushroom's polysaccharopeptides. The mushroom's anticancer properties have been observed in cancers of the colon, breast, stomach, prostate, lungs, liver, and white blood cells.
Read More: Learn About the turkey tail mushroom cancer benefits.
Turkey Tail: A Chock Full Of Anti-Oxidants
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are damaging compounds. A buildup of these free radicals in the body results in oxidative stress, which accelerates aging, damages cells and tissues, and is frequently the cause of several chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, joint disease, and heart disease.
Phenols and flavonoids are an impressive array of antioxidants in turkey tail mushrooms. A study(11) even detected 35 different phenolic compounds and the flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein in Turkey Tail. These promote immune system health by stimulating the release of protective compounds and reducing inflammation.
Turkey Tail Improves Gut Health
There is no doubt that turkey tail mushrooms are known for their nutritional benefits. However, few people understand that the mushroom also carries gut health benefits that ensure all the nutrients are absorbed and utilized by the body.
Turkey tail mushrooms are a fantastic source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are a source of nourishment for good gut bacteria.
The mushroom's polysaccharides and beta-glucans improve the composition of the human microbiome. They boost the functionality of the intestines and improving overall digestion.
Research studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of turkey tail mushrooms on the gut flora—one such study was conducted in 2014. In the 2014 study(12), researchers analyzed 24 individuals consuming 3,600 mg of PSP (polysaccharopeptide) from turkey tail mushrooms daily.
This study looked into how the mushroom would affect overall digestive health. By the end of the study, there were positive changes in gut flora and inhibition of the growth of potentially harmful E. coli and Shigella bacteria.
Turkey Tail Helps With HPV Treatment
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that causes warts, depending on the strain. Labeled the most common sexually transmitted disease, Human Papillomavirus affects many people. Luckily, this disease can be treated with the proper dosage of medicinal mushrooms.
In a 2014 study(13), researchers analyzed the effectiveness of a combination of turkey tail and reishi mushrooms in treating HPV. In the study, among the 472 patients who underwent an oral gingivitis swab, 61 had HPV16 and HPV18.
Researchers included twenty people from the group of 61 patients in group one—researchers used group 1 as the control group, using Laetiporus Sulphureus as a treatment option. The second group of 41 patients received a combination of Reishi mushroom and turkey tail mushroom as a treatment option. Both groups were in treatment for two months.
At the end of the study, the group using Laetiporus Sulphureus has an HPV clearance of only 5%. On the other hand, the group using a combination of turkey tail and reishi mushroom enjoyed an HPV clearance of 88%. The study concluded that Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) and turkey tail could effectively treat HPV.
Read More: See how turkey tail mushroom fights HPV.
What Are the Shared Benefits Between Chaga and Turkey Tail?
There is no doubt that these two medicinal mushrooms have unique benefits. However, turkey tail and Chaga mushrooms share bioactive ingredients that often bring out similar benefits in them.
Below, we will look at some of the mushroom's shared benefits:
Both Mushrooms Improve the Immune System
In a study conducted in 2019(14), researchers analyzed the effectiveness of turkey tail mushroom supplements in boosting the immune system. The researchers determined that both aqueous and solid fractions of turkey tail mushroom increased the immune system functionality, with the aqueous extract generating more robust results.
Research studies have also confirmed that Chaga's fruiting body and supplements effectively boost immunity. Test tube and animal studies suggest that Chaga may impact the immune system positively by fighting harmful viruses and bacteria and reducing long-term inflammation.
Research shows that(15) Chaga promotes the formation of beneficial cytokines. Cytokines are unique proteins that regulate the immune system. By facilitating the production of cytokines, Chaga stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off viruses and bacteria. As a result, Chaga can fight diseases ranging from minor cases of flu and severe infections.
Read More: Thinking about using wild-harvested Chaga to boost your immunity? Learn how to identify Chaga mushrooms.
Both Mushrooms Fight Diabetes
In addition to boosting immune response in the human body, turkey tail and Chaga mushrooms also help fight diabetes.
A research study conducted in 2020(16) analyzed the effectiveness of turkey tail mushrooms in treating diabetes. The researchers fed male Winstar rats with a high-fat diet followed by a streptozotocin injection to induce type 2 diabetes.
For four weeks, the rats received 0.1 g/kg, 0.5 g/kg, and 1.0 g/kg of turkey tail mushrooms. At the end of 4 weeks of supplementation with turkey tail, the researchers noticed that the rats had lower blood sugar levels and reduced insulin resistance. The study concluded that turkey tail mushrooms might effectively prevent the development of diabetes complications in people with type 2 diabetes.
Several research studies have also linked Chaga mushrooms to the ability to lower high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
A research study conducted in 2017(17) analyzed the effectiveness of Chaga in fighting diabetes. The study showed that oral administration of Chaga at a dose of 900 mg/kg of body weight resulted in reduced blood glucose levels and insulin resistance in rats with type 2 diabetes.
Read More: See how Chaga fights diabetes.
Both Medicinal Mushrooms Fight Obesity
Consuming Chaga and turkey tail mushrooms can be an effective way to fight weight gain. For obese people, these mushrooms will facilitate weight loss, reducing cholesterol and helping restore healthy weight.
Turkey tail and Chaga are adaptogenic mushrooms—they help the body adapt to stress and reduce the risk of depression.
Read More: See how Lion's mane mushroom fights depression.
Stress is a leading cause of weight gain. A research study conducted in 2018(18) confirmed that stress and obesity are closely related.
By fighting stress and helping the body adapt to stressful situations, Chaga and turkey tail reduce the risk of obesity. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure. Therefore, By lowering body weight, Chaga and turkey tail also help lower blood pressure.
Both Chaga and turkey tail mushrooms boast the ability to suppress appetite. One of the nutritional benefits of turkey tail and Chaga is that they are high in fiber. The fiber makes you full faster and keeps you full for longer—this, in turn, lowers the number of calories consumed daily. As the number of calories you eat reduces, turkey tail and Chaga help you lose weight.
Read More: See how Chaga tea supports weight loss.
Both Chaga and Turkey Tail Mushrooms Boost Our Energy Levels
Both turkey tail and Chaga mushrooms can help you recharge your batteries. The mushrooms carry bioactive ingredients that guarantee higher energy levels.
For example, increased energy is one of the Chaga mushroom powder benefits for people who struggle to perform at their peak. Chaga mushrooms contain a long-chain polysaccharide that can be converted into usable energy. The mushroom energy is more natural, long-lasting, and consistent.
On the other hand, Turkey tail mushrooms boost your energy levels and fight fatigue. A 2017 study(19) analyzed the effect of turkey tail mushrooms on fatigue. The mice were given mushroom extracts and tested for limb strength, endurance, and parameters that indicate physical fatigue, such as blood glucose, lactate, and creatine kinase.
Leg strength improved noticeably. The fatigue parameters were also significantly reduced. The researchers concluded that Turkey tail mushrooms could enhance performance and fatigue in mice. This benefit is also applicable to human beings.
Turkey Tail Vs. Chaga: Which One To Pick?
Chaga and Turkey tail mushrooms offer the body so many health benefits and the ability to derail diseases. And the help of the mushrooms is expansive, so one mushroom is not necessarily better than the other.
Turkey tail mushrooms can also help support immune function, combat inflammation(20), aging, and heart diseases, and support gut health(21) and energy level(22). Likewise, Chaga mushrooms can also help prevent and slow the growth of cancer cells(23), increase heart-healthy(24) cholesterols, and boost the immune system(25).
Chaga and Turkey Tail share many health benefits. So, if you want to improve your health, we recommend incorporating the two medicinal fungi into your lifestyle.
Is Chaga The Same As Turkey Tail?
Chaga and Turkey Tail mushrooms are two different medicinal fungi with distinct health benefits. Turkey tail mushrooms are highly regarded for their anticancer properties, while Chaga is highly popular for its skin and beauty-boosting effects.
Who Should Not Take Chaga Mushroom?
Although Chaga is considered safe, the mushroom should be avoided by people with kidney issues, osteoporosis, and those on blood thinners and anti-diabetic medication.
Read More: Can pregnant women take Chaga?
Turkey tail and Chaga are fascinating and impactful fungi because they offer unique benefits. And it's not about Chaga vs. Turkey tail, or which one is better? Instead, the mushrooms you choose to try depend on your desired effects.
Choose Chaga if you want to reap its calming and skin-soothing properties, while Turkey tail can be your go-to mushroom if you're looking for anticancer and immune support. But, more importantly, the beneficial compounds in each fungus support each other inside the body. So, rather than picking one, the more mushrooms, the merrier!
Have you tried Chaga or turkey tail mushrooms before? What benefits did you enjoy? Let us know in the comment section.
- Antimetastatic effects of PSK (Krestin), a protein-bound polysaccharide obtained from basidiomycetes: an overview, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7606203/
- Inhibitory and Acceleratory Effects of Inonotus obliquus on Tyrosinase Activity and Melanin Formation in B16 Melanoma Cells, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25197307/
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), a Future Potential Medicinal Fungus in Oncology? A Chemical Study and a Comparison of the Cytotoxicity Against Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells (A549) and Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (BEAS-2B), (3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142110/
- Lanostane-type triterpenes from the sclerotium of Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushrooms) as proproliferative agents on human follicle dermal papilla cells, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30706371/
- How Extreme Stress Causes Hair Loss, (5)https://www.forbes.com/sites/neeranathan/2020/06/30/why-extreme-stress-causes-hair-loss
- Comparison of antioxidant activity and extraction techniques for commercially and laboratory prepared extracts from six mushroom species, (6)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666154321000326
- TLR2 agonist PSK activates human NK cells and enhances the anti-tumor effect of HER2-targeted monoclonal antibody therapy, (7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206987/
- Origin and evolution of China Pharmacopoeia and its implication for traditional medicines, (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25877600/
- Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®), (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424937/
- Anticancer effects and mechanisms of polysaccharide-K (PSK): implications of cancer immunotherapy, (10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12168863/
- The lignicolous fungus Trametes versicolor (L.) Lloyd (1920): a promising natural source of antiradical and AChE inhibitory agents, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010034/
- Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25006989/
- Control of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) by medicinal mushrooms, Trametes versicolor and Ganoderma lucidum: a preliminary clinical trial, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25271984/
- The mycelium of the Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom and its fermented substrate each show potent and complementary immune activating properties in vitro, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6889544/
- Inonotus obliquus extracts suppress antigen-specific IgE production through the modulation of Th1/Th2 cytokines in ovalbumin-sensitized mice, (15)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21820502/
- Extracellular Polysaccharopeptides from Fermented Turkey Tail Medicinal Mushroom, Trametes versicolor (Agaricomycetes), Mitigate Oxidative Stress, Hyperglycemia, and Hyperlipidemia in Rats with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, (16)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32749097/
- Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway, (17)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28954386/
- Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?, (18)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958156/
- Effect of Coriolus versicolor Mycelia Extract on Exercise Performance and Physical Fatigue in Mice, (19)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5666542/
- Enhancement of the anti-inflammatory properties of grape pomace treated by Trametes versicolor, (20)https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/FO/C9FO02296A
- Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial, (21)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25006989/
- Effect of Coriolus versicolor Mycelia Extract on Exercise Performance and Physical Fatigue in Mice, (22)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5666542/
- Antitumor activity of water extract of a mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, against HT-29 human colon cancer cells, (23)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19367670/
- Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan diabetes mice, (24)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18434051/
- Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (25)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/
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