The benefits of cordyceps mushrooms are numerous. That’s why cordyceps mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years.
Wild Cordyceps mushrooms are commonly called caterpillar fungus because of their appearance. They are not actually a mushroom, but rather a type of fungus that grows on insects and other small animals. The most common species of cordyceps used in TCM is Cordyceps sinensis, also known as Cordyceps militaris, but there are other species that are used in TCM as well.
Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs
Medicinal mushrooms are the edible and medicinal fruit bodies of a variety of mushroom species. They have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, primarily in Asian countries, but also in European countries such as Poland, Russia, and Germany.
The most common medicinal mushrooms used for dogs include:
- Cordyceps: Cordyceps mushrooms, also known as caterpillar fungus and Tochukasu, are a type of fungus that grows on the larva of particular species of insects. They are found in the highlands of Tibet and Nepal, where it grows at an altitude between 2,500 and 4,000 meters above sea level.
- Turkey Tail: Turkey tail mushrooms are a type of polypore that grow on dead wood. They have a fan-like shape and are often found in groups of overlapping caps. The caps are usually reddish-brown and range from 3 to 12 inches in diameter. The underside of the cap is covered with pores that release spores when mature.
- Lion’s Mane: Lion’s Mane mushrooms are a traditional medicinal mushroom in the Eastern world. They grow on wood and are found in North America, Europe and Asia. The name “Lion’s Mane” is derived from the appearance of the mushroom, which resembles a lion’s mane. It is also known as Bear’s Head, Monkey’s Head and Satyr’s Beard.
- Reishi: Reishi mushrooms are one of the most studied mushrooms, and they have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. In today’s market, reishi mushrooms are often marketed as “mushrooms of immortality,” which is perhaps why they have become so popular in the West over the last few years.
- Shiitake: Shiitake mushrooms are native to East Asia but have been cultivated worldwide since the 12th century. Today, they are cultivated on logs or stumps of hardwood trees such as oak and chestnut. They grow best in warm climates with plenty of moisture and shade, though they’re also grown indoors on sawdust logs.
Each of these mushrooms has its own set of benefits. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the benefits of cordyceps.
Benefits of Cordyceps Mushrooms for Dogs
Cordyceps are known to have potent health benefits. The benefits of cordyceps mushrooms for dogs include:
#1: Improved Energy
Cordyceps helps support energy production at a cellular level. They are known to support energy production by increasing oxygen flow to cells. This is especially important for dogs with low energy levels or other illnesses that cause lethargy or weakness.
Cordycepin, a compound in cordyceps mushrooms, promotes the development of ATP. In simpler terms, the benefits of Cordyceps in regard to energy include:
- Supports healthy cellular activity
- Supports normal physical and mental performance
- May help protect body cells and tissues
#2: Improves Stamina
Cordyceps also helps support stamina and endurance by helping your pet breathe more efficiently so that their muscles can work harder without tiring out too quickly. This can be beneficial for older pets with joint issues or disabilities that make it difficult for them to exercise normally.
Additional benefits include:
- Supports normal recovery time after strenuous activity
- Supports oxygen utilization
- Training and performance support for exercising muscle
- Helps support normal respiratory function and health
- Supports respiratory health
#3: Helping the Immune System
Cordyceps is best known for its effect on the immune system. It helps prevent infection by stimulating the immune system and blocking the action of viruses and bacteria. It also helps maintain a normal inflammatory response and may help protect body cells and tissues.
Cordyceps mushrooms enhance the immune response, which means they may promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens.
Additional benefits include:
- Nutritional support for healthy immune function
- Supports normal cardiovascular, immune and neurological function
- Promotes homeostasis
Cordyceps mushrooms also contain ergosterol and beta-sitosterol. These nutrients promote normal cholesterol levels in the blood and support normal inflammatory processes.
#4: Regulating Blood Pressure
Cordyceps mushrooms are a natural way to support normal blood pressure. They contain calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are all important in promoting normal circulatory function.
Other benefits include:
- Helps promote normal circulation
- Enhances blood flow
- Enhances red blood cell life span
Additionally, cordyceps mushrooms contain amino acids such as L-arginine that supports normal heart and vasculature functioning.
#5: Anti-Aging Benefits
Cordyceps mushrooms are known to have anti-aging properties, and they can help maintain optimal health. As a result, cordyceps mushrooms may slow down the aging process in dogs’ organs and tissues.
Additional anti-aging benefits include:
- Enhances cardiovascular function
- Helps support joint flexibility and mobility
- Enhances the physical and mental well-being of an animal
- Supports and promotes long-term health
- Provides nutrients necessary for the health of senior cats
- Reduces the negative effects of oxidative stress
Cordyceps mushrooms contain high amounts of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and joints. They also contain amino acids that support normal muscle and nervous systems, as well as beta glucans that support the immune system by strengthening cell walls.
#6: Reproductive Benefits
In Chinese medicine, Cordyceps are also said to help maintain optimal function of reproductive processes. This could make them especially helpful for dogs that have had difficulty conceiving or carrying pups to term.
Additional benefits include:
- Helps support the needs of developing puppies
- Provides nutrients important during reproduction and lactation
- Provides nutrients required during the prenatal period
#7: Supports Liver and Kidney Function
Cordyceps is known to enhance liver and kidney function in dogs. The liver and kidneys work together to filter toxins and impurities from the body. The liver is an important part of a dog’s internal system, as it filters the blood and even stores essential vitamins and minerals. The kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste materials from the body and producing urine.
Additional cordyceps mushroom benefits include:
- Supports the body from exposure to heavy metal or environmental toxins
- Maintains healthy liver function
- Nutritional support for the liver
- Supports healthy waste elimination
#8: Support for Allergies
Allergies are caused by an overactive immune response from the body’s immune system in response to certain substances. Cordyceps can help with allergies by:
- Maintains health of skin and coat
- May help with occasional or seasonal allergies
- Supports skin health
- Helps maintain normal histamine levels
#9: Added Vitamins and Minerals
The main vitamins found in cordyceps are:
- Vitamin A: This vitamin is an antioxidant and provides nutritional support for healthy coats, mucous membranes, teeth, bones and reproductive organs.
- Vitamin B1: Also known as thiamin, this vitamin helps convert carbohydrates into energy. It also helps promote red blood cell production and nerve function.
- Vitamin B2: Riboflavin helps with energy metabolism and plays an important role in providing factors for bone development and building of connective tissue. It also supports immune function by helping produce antibodies against bacteria and viruses.
- Vitamin B3: Niacin is another amino acid that helps convert carbohydrates into energy. It also supports healthy skin and mucous membranes, reproductive organ health, bone health, nerve function, red blood cell production and circulation.
- Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine helps turn food into energy by acting as a co-factor for many enzymes involved in metabolism. It also supports brain development in puppies during pregnancy or lactation periods since it is required for the synthesis of essential neurotransmitters like serotonin.
- Copper: Required by the body to produce red blood cells and maintain bone health.
- Iron: Helps transport oxygen throughout the body and contributes to healthy red blood cell production.
- Magnesium: Supports normal brain and nerve function, promotes muscle strength, and supports normal blood pressure.
- Potassium: Helps support normal blood pressure.
Adding Cordyceps to Your Dog’s Diet
Cordyceps mushrooms come in several different forms, including powders and capsules. You can find them at most health food stores or online retailers that sell natural remedies for pets. However, not all products are created equal in the health space. Supplements are highly unregulated and, as such, it’s your responsibility to vet the product you’re purchasing.
While reviewing the lab results, you will notice other mushrooms including reishi mushrooms, turkey tail mushrooms, and lion’s mane mushrooms have been incorporated into the supplement for added benefit. Of course, Earth Buddy takes pride in an organic, pure product, but doing your own research on mushroom supplements is recommended.
You may also be curious about feeding whole, raw mushrooms. Although they can be fed raw, these mushrooms have a bitter flavor and may be difficult to digest when uncooked. Once the mushroom is cooked, they are more palatable and easier to digest allowing more nutrients to be absorbed.
Not Just Any Mushroom
There are many different edible mushrooms that can be eaten by humans, but not all mushrooms are safe for dogs. Some species of mushrooms can cause serious side effects or even death, so it’s important to know which ones are safe before feeding them to your furry friend.
Don’t go outside and randomly choose mushrooms. Even if you were to find wild mushrooms, you don’t know if they have been tainted with herbicides, herbicides, or other toxins. Unless you are an expert in fungi, medicinal mushrooms should be purchased from a reputable source.
The mushrooms outlined above are among those that may support your dog’s health; however, before providing any other mushrooms to your dog, contact your veterinarian or nutritionist.
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