The wellness industry is obsessed with functional mushrooms right now. And what's not to love about them? Numerous studies indicate that these mushrooms have nutritional benefits apart from their 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 (Inonotus obliques) 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.
On the other hand, Turkey tail mushroom is revered for their anti-cancer 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.
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.
Chaga mushroom is packed with bioactive metabolites such as triterpenes and polysaccharides like beta-glucans. Likewise, Turkey tail is rich in polysaccharopeptide,s that contribute to its incredible health benefits.
Owing to these compounds, each of these mushrooms has distinct health benefits.
However, let's explore the unique properties of Turkey tail vs. Chaga that make them stand out.
Chaga: 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 pigments 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.
Turkey Tail: The Cancer Warrior
Turkey Tail mushroom's claim to fame is a substance known as polysaccharide-K(4) (PSK), which has been approved as an adjunct to cancer treatment and has been shown to increase survival rates for those with specific cancers and boost the immune systems of chemotherapy patients.
Trametes Versicolor extracts can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, speed up their demise, and even directly kill them by regulating immune responses. As a result, the mushroom is regarded as one of the most potent all-natural treatments for various cancers, according to ancient Chinese pharmacopeia(5).
Numerous clinical and preclinical studies(6) have revealed the anti-cancer properties of the mushroom's polysaccharopeptides. The mushroom's anti-cancer properties have been observed in cancers of the colon, breast, stomach, prostate, lungs, liver, and white blood cells.
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). Chaga helps the body balance itself by reducing the overall amount of stress hormones released by the body at the molecular level.
Additionally, adaptogen mushrooms like Chaga support memory function, blood sugar regulation, inflammation reduction, and metabolism regulation.
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 among the impressive array of antioxidants found in turkey tail. A study(7) 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 vs. Chaga: Which One To Pick?
Chaga and Turkey tail mushrooms offer the body so much in terms of health and the ability to derail diseases. And the benefits of the mushrooms are expansive, so one mushroom is not necessarily better than the other.
Turkey tail mushrooms can also help support immune function, combat inflammation(8), aging, and heart diseases, and support gut health(9) and energy level(10). Likewise, Chaga mushrooms can also help prevent and slow the growth of cancer cells(11), increase heart-healthy(12) cholesterols, and boost the immune system(13).
Chaga and Turkey Tail share many health benefits. So, if you want to improve your health, we recommend incorporating both 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 is highly regarded for its anti-cancer 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.
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 depending 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 anti-cancer 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!
- 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/
- TLR2 agonist PSK activates human NK cells and enhances the anti-tumor effect of HER2-targeted monoclonal antibody therapy, (4)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206987/
- Origin and evolution of China Pharmacopoeia and its implication for traditional medicines, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25877600/
- Anticancer effects and mechanisms of polysaccharide-K (PSK): implications of cancer immunotherapy, (6)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, (7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010034/
- Enhancement of the anti-inflammatory properties of grape pomace treated by Trametes versicolor, (8)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, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25006989/
- Effect of Coriolus versicolor Mycelia Extract on Exercise Performance and Physical Fatigue in Mice, (10)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, (11)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, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18434051/
- Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (13)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774877/