Pixie Dust or Healthful?
There are countless studies of vitamins, minerals and “super” foods that are filled with antioxidants marketed as great immunity boosters for dogs and cats. Mushrooms are just one of these foods. If added into a dog or cats’ diet, current thinking dictate that we can increase their leukocyte count and therefore enhance their immune systems. However, not just any mushroom can do this. With over 140,000 different mushroom species, there is a large variety of mushrooms we do not ever see at our everyday grocery store. While they are still good for us and our furry friends, these are not the ones that help fight off those deadly cancer cells and other intruding microorganisms.
Mushroom (see: Wikipedia) are fungi, and an interesting member of gilled fungi family. Some species are not gilled, of course, but the collective term “mushroom” still applies. Mushrooms are more complex than simple fungi like yeast; the kingdom of fungi, also called fungus kingdom, is filled with edible, hallucinogenic, poisonous and medicinal mushrooms. Like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, mushrooms are packed full of certain and essential vitamins, minerals, and have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Minerals: potassium, selenium, sulfur, sodium, geranium, zinc, phosphorus
- Sugars: mannitol, xylose, glucose, galactose, mannose
- Vitamins: B complex, folic acid, pro-vitamin D
- Protein: essential amino acids
- Enzymes: antibacterial, proteolytic
- Lipids: phospholipids, sterols, sterol esters, free fatty acids, mono-, di- and triglycerides
- Polysaccharides: glycogen, beta-D-glucans, chitin
- Essential oils: triterpenes
Many types of medicinal mushrooms are great for supporting your dog’s (or cat’s) immune system. Each mushroom has a slightly different type of Beta-glucan 1, an important compound that helps to give mushrooms their health supporting properties. With each different type of beta-glucan, the mushroom has a different effect on the immune system. Mushrooms have qualities for being anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-fibrotic, anti-microbial, anti-oxidative, anti-fungal (Candida albicans) anti-viral (Herpes for example).
Not all mushrooms are safe for our pets. As discussed by Dr Jean Dodds in her article titled “Medicinal Mushrooms for Pets”, the use of mushrooms to treat certain ailments is still a science that needs to be applied wisely. For a list of known toxic or poisonous mushroom, please refer to our knowledge-base. Unlike grapes and mangoes mushroom do not have seeds that are poisonous to our fur kids due to them being fungi instead of plants. However, some of the mushrooms themselves contain toxins that can harm both pets and humans.
In general, mushrooms are versatile natural plants. They serve four major functions:
- Prevention (disease);
- Regeneration (cells);
- Protection (cancer, radiation);
- Intervention (treatment)
Some mushrooms are also adaptogens, which means they help the body adapt to stress. They can be incredibly immune boosting and most of this magic occurs via the polysaccharides, which support energy and structure, and the terpene constituents, which are found in plants that affect your “high” such as marijuana.
Different mushrooms are said to help the immune system as supplementary treatment of tumors and many other conditions.
- Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga and Turkey Tail for breast cancer 2.
- Phellinus, Turkey Tail and Chaga for cervical and uterine cancer.
- Phellinus, Maitake and Turkey Tail for stomach and Colorectal.
- Turkey Tail , Maitake. Cordyceps for Leukemia.
- Turkey Tail, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake and Phellinus for liver cancer 3.
- Cordyceps, Reishi , Maitake and Turkey Tail for lung cancer Cordyceps for Lymphoma 4.
- Shiitake and Phellinus for Melanoma;
- Reishi Turkey Tail, Maitake and Shiitake for Prostate cancer;
- Reishi for Sarcomas. Remember that vaccinations lead often to cancers and one of the hallmarks is the sarcoma.
Royal sun (Agaricus blazei)
Agaricus is often regarded as an immune-supporting mushroom5 with its high content of polysaccharides and cellular-growth supporting compounds. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications6 7 . Polysaccharides are the essential sugars in the body that help activate the immune system and help protect the body from infection and disease. Agaricus blazei is said to help:
- Support healthy cholesterol levels;
- Provide blood sugar regulation;
- Healthy digestion support;
- Maintain cardiovascular support.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
Cordyceps offer strong immune supporting properties which are essential in the diet of your pet. Research 8 9 shows 10 that they are essential in boosting your dog’s health and staving off dangerous diseases. Cordyceps has been known to:
- Provide intense immune support;
- Support performance, endurance and vitality;
- Support heart and respiratory function.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms are flush with amino acids, enzymes and health-supporting minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. They are a great addition to maintaining your dog’s health by stimulating white blood cells and improving circulation. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications11 . They have also been known to:
- Help soothe inflammation;
- Normalizes allergy symptoms;
- Provide cardiovascular health support.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake is a powerful mushroom used to support regular blood pressure and immunity. With rich roots in Japanese culture, Maitake has a wide range of health supporting benefits. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications12 13. Maitake helps:
- Support weight control;
- Healthy digestion support;
- Provide blood sugar regulation.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi mushrooms have been proven to be able to slow the growth of tumors and kill off malignant cells in the process. Reishi mushroom is so popular that is well know by several names! A popular for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Reishi contains beta glucans, or complex sugars known to modulate the immune system 14. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications 15 16 .
- Intense immune system support;
- Regulate blood pressure and sugar levels;
- Support main organs like the kidney and liver.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
Turkey Tail mushrooms, otherwise known as Coriolus Versicolor17 , are commonly being used as a dog immunity supplement and is a fantastic and immunity boost for dogs. It has multiple shades of brown and fanned out much like that of an actual turkey’s tail, and can be found growing on trees and dead tree stumps. Turkey Tail is considered the best over-all mushroom for cancer prevention and treatment18 due to the research that has been done connecting it with cancer and chemotherapy support. Turkey Tail is known for being rich in polysaccharides, which have been shown to support immune function. As a powerful immune modulator, this mushroom is useful for health conditions in dogs where the immune system is compromised. Turkey Tail mushroom can:
- Promote immune health;
- Modulate normal cell growth;
- Sooth irritation in the urinary and digestive tract.
Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus)
Chaga are another species of mushrooms that have been more commonly powdered for immunity supplements for dogs, and is also being studied for a variety of applications19 20.
- Scores among highest food Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity – meaning its scientifically one of the 5 best antioxidants on earth;
- Immunity boost for dogs – directly aids in helping your dog fight diseases;
- Anti-Cancer – anti tumor ability, strong antioxidant qualities, tumor reduction;
- Anti-Viral and Anti-Inflammatory;
- Boosts Endurance in your dog –the health benefits extend past the immune system and helps keep your dog full of energy and strong.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane is a potent mushroom made with 20 percent protein and is known as a delicacy when prepared in meals21 . Just like its name this mushroom has an appearance similar to a lion’s mane. A lion itself is symbolized as strength, which is why this mushroom is so powerful with all of its anti-cancer effects, and is also being studied for a variety of applications22 23.
- Helps Brain, Eye, and Circulation in dogs;
- Slow tumor growth – and reduces blood flow to tumors allowing them to continue to reduce over time;
- Anti-Inflammatory – Especially in digestive inflammation and other digestive complaints in your dog;
- Benefits blood sugar – it is also used to help treat diabetes.
Black Hoof (Phellinus linteus)
Phellinus linteus (Japanese “meshimakobu”, Chinese “song gen”, Korean “sanghwang”, English “Meshima”, American English “black hoof mushroom”) or the thousand year mushroom as it is known in Asia is very much directed as a medicinal and against cancer24 , cervical / uterine, colorectal, stomach liver and skin (melanoma) cancers but also implanted tumors or sarcomas in research with mice 25.
- Boosts Immune System;
- Protects the GI Tract.
How to Use Medicinal Mushrooms With You Pets?
You should never give uncooked mushrooms to either dogs or cats. They lack the ability to digest them and, in some cases, they can be toxic. Cats don’t particularly like the taste of mushrooms so it’s important that your mushrooms are cooked for both you and your pet as cooking them increases the availability of the nutrients for use by the organs such as the colon and liver. Alternatively, make use of one of the tinctures we offer.
As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
One of the best ways to get medicinal mushrooms into your pet’s diet is through a properly formulated natural powder or tincture. If you don’t have that available then try to include them as cooked, when feeding, or give them as a tea. You could also try using dried tinctures if you can get them.
Bear in mind that any form of natural treatment will take time for you to see the physical benefits in your pet. Medicinal mushrooms are working with the body to allow natural restoration and healing and will generally start working from day one within the organs themselves.
Books and Articles
- Field Guide to Mushrooms & Other Fungi of South Africa by Gary Goldman and Marieka Gryzenhout (Amazon)
Paul Stamets, speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, is considered an intellectual and industry leader in fungi habitat, medicinal use, and production. He lectures extensively to deepen your understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep you take on this path of life.
Health Benefits of Cordyceps
Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms
Health Benefits Of Reishi Mushroom
Health Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushroom
Paul Stamets – Mushrooms, Mycology of Consciousness
Research and References
- 1.Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17895634.
- 2.Kidd P. The use of mushroom glucans and proteoglycans in cancer treatment. Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(1):4-27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10696116.
- 3.Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Can maitake MD-fraction aid cancer patients? Altern Med Rev. 2002;7(3):236-239. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12126464.
- 4.Liu W, Wang S, Tsai M, et al. Protection against radiation-induced bone marrow and intestinal injuries by Cordyceps sinensis, a Chinese herbal medicine. Radiat Res. 2006;166(6):900-907. doi:10.1667/RR0670.1
- 5.Firenzuoli F, Gori L, Lombardo G. The Medicinal Mushroom Agaricus blazei Murrill: Review of Literature and Pharmaco-Toxicological Problems. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(1):3-15. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem007
- 6.Ohno S, Sumiyoshi Y, Hashine K, Shirato A, Kyo S, Inoue M. Phase I Clinical Study of the Dietary Supplement, Agaricus blazei Murill, in Cancer Patients in Remission. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:192381. doi:10.1155/2011/192381
- 7.Tangen J, Tierens A, Caers J, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of the Agaricus blazei Murrill-based mushroom extract AndoSan in patients with multiple myeloma undergoing high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation: a randomized, double blinded clinical study. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:718539. doi:10.1155/2015/718539
- 8.Panda A, Swain K. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011;2(1):9-13. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.78183
- 9.Tuli H, Sandhu S, Sharma A. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. 3 Biotech. 2014;4(1):1-12. doi:10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
- 10.Lin B, Li S. Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug. In: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011:200. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/.
- 12.Deng G, Lin H, Seidman A, et al. A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: immunological effects. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2009;135(9):1215-1221. doi:10.1007/s00432-009-0562-z
- 13.Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014;2(2):14. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2014.01.05
- 14.Batra P, Sharma A, Khajuria R. Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(2):127-143. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.20
- 15.Wang J, Cao B, Zhao H, Feng J. Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging. Aging Dis. 2017;8(6):691-707. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0410
- 16.Zeng P, Guo Z, Zeng X, et al. Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China. J Cell Mol Med. 2018;22(7):3278-3297. doi:10.1111/jcmm.13613
- 17.Saleh M, Rashedi I, Keating A. Immunomodulatory Properties of Coriolus versicolor: The Role of Polysaccharopeptide. Front Immunol. 2017;8:1087. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.01087
- 18.Standish L, Wenner C, Sweet E, et al. Trametes versicolor mushroom immune therapy in breast cancer. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2008;6(3):122-128. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19087769.
- 19.Géry A, Dubreule C, André V, et al. 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). Integr Cancer Ther. 2018;17(3):832-843. doi:10.1177/1534735418757912
- 20.Zhong X, Ren K, Lu S, Yang S, Sun D. Progress of research on Inonotus obliquus. Chin J Integr Med. April 2009:156-160. doi:10.1007/s11655-009-0156-2
- 21.Brandalise F, Cesaroni V, Gregori A, et al. Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:3864340. doi:10.1155/2017/3864340
- 22.Li I, Lee L, Tzeng T, et al. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behav Neurol. 2018;2018:5802634. doi:10.1155/2018/5802634
- 23.Lai P-L, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushr. 2013:539-554. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
- 24.Sliva D. Medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus as an alternative cancer therapy. Exp Ther Med. 2010;1(3):407-411. doi:10.3892/etm_00000063
- 25.Chen W, Tan H, Liu Q, et al. A Review: The Bioactivities and Pharmacological Applications of Phellinus linteus. Molecules. 2019;24(10). doi:10.3390/molecules24101888