What Are Functional Mushrooms?

November 28, 2023

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

Earth Buddy bottle of Functional Mushrooms for dogs surrounded by lion’s mane mushrooms and turkey tail mushrooms. Read this blog to learn about antioxidant properties of mushrooms.

Incorporating functional mushrooms may be recommended by your holistic or integrative veterinarian to support the immune system. You may have heard this field referred to as traditional chinese medicine or perhaps you’ve tried it yourself in a mushroom tea. Supporting your dog’s immune system helps maintain the general health of all ages and breeds naturally.

Rich in bioactive compounds like polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and antioxidants, functional mushrooms have been used for centuries in various cultures. In recent years, their popularity has grown in the pet care world, especially for their role in enhancing the immune response.

Black spotted Cattle dog running with frisbee in mouth. Read this blog to learn more about the medicinal properties of mushrooms for dogs and cats.

Your Pet’s Immune System:

The immune system in dogs, much like in humans, is composed of two main types: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. These two systems work together to protect the body.

Innate immunity is the first line of defense and is non-specific, meaning it doesn’t target specific types of pathogens. Innate immunity includes physical barriers like the skin and mucous membranes, as well as various cells and proteins that identify and attack invaders. It acts quickly, usually within minutes to hours.

Cells involved in this response include natural killer cells, macrophages, and neutrophils.

Adaptive immunity is more sophisticated and specific. It develops as the dog is exposed to pathogens over time. Adaptive immunity involves lymphocytes, which are B cells and T cells. These cells remember specific pathogens after the first encounter, so the immune response is faster and stronger when the dog is exposed to the same pathogen again.

This is the principle behind vaccinations. B cells produce antibodies that target specific antigens, while T cells can recognize and kill infected cells. The adaptive immune response takes longer to kick in than the innate response, usually averaging days.

What is Trained Immunity and How Does It Support Immune Function?

Mushroom capsules for dogs and cats on top of raw reishi, turkey tail, and lion’s mane mushrooms to antioxidant properties of mushrooms for pets.

Trained immunity, also known as innate immune memory, is a relatively recent concept in immunology. It refers to the ability of the innate immune system to remember past encounters with pathogens or foreign substances and respond more effectively upon subsequent exposures. This concept challenges the traditional view that only the adaptive immune system, which involves B and T cells, has memory.

Here’s how trained immunity works:

  • Initial exposure: When innate immune cells, like macrophages or natural killer cells, first encounter a pathogen or certain immune stimuli (like a vaccine), they undergo a sort of training. This training involves epigenetic, metabolic, and functional reprogramming.
  • Enhanced response: Upon subsequent exposures to the same or even different pathogens, these trained innate immune cells can mount a more robust and rapid response. This is because they have been “trained” to recognize and react more effectively to threats, thanks to the changes in their gene expression and metabolic processes from the initial exposure.
  • Duration: Unlike the long-term memory of the adaptive immune system, the memory in trained immunity is typically shorter-lived, lasting weeks to months.

Trained immunity represents a form of memory in the innate immune system, enabling it to promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens.

Functional Mushrooms and Trained Immunity

Functional mushrooms, like those offered at Earth Buddy, have gained attention for their potential role in supporting a healthy immune system in all animals, including aspects related to trained immunity.

These mushrooms contain a variety of bioactive compounds including polysaccharides (especially beta-glucans), terpenoids, and phenolic compounds.

Here’s how they might help with trained immunity:

  • Stimulation of innate immune cells: Many medicinal mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are known to interact with innate immune cells like macrophages, dendritic cells, and natural killer cells. This interaction can stimulate these cells, potentially promoting the body’s innate resistance to pathogens. This stimulation can be considered a form of “training” for these innate immune cells.
  • Epigenetic and metabolic changes: The compounds in functional medicinal mushrooms may induce epigenetic and metabolic changes in innate immune cells, similar to the changes observed in trained immunity. These changes support immune system function.
  • Immune enhancing effects: By supporting the immune system, functional mushrooms could support normal cardiovascular, immune, and neurological function. This might not only involve the trained aspects of the innate immune system but also the adaptive immune system.
  • Supporting normal inflammatory pathways: Some functional mushrooms promote healthy inflammatory pathways.
  • Antioxidant protection: Functional mushrooms often have antioxidant protection, which helps decrease oxidative damage. This is beneficial for supporting immune system function and assisting the body in combating environmental pollutants.

Types of Functional Mushrooms

When incorporated into your dog’s diet, edible mushroom species can enhance organ function, promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens, and provide nutrients for a healthy body further enhancing nutritional value. Here are some common types of functional mushroom species and how they may help dogs:

Reishi Mushrooms for Dogs

All 4 of Earth Buddy functional mushroom supplements for pets with raw reishi mushrooms behind them. Read this article to learn more about medicinal properties of mushrooms.

Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is known for immune enhancing effects and for helping maintain a normal inflammatory response. It is effective in helping reduce the effects of normal environmental stress, enhancing immunity, and supporting cardiovascular function.

The benefits of reishi mushrooms are attributed to its high levels of polysaccharides and triterpenes, which assist the immune system with helping keep animals in peak condition. It also contains

Shiitake Mushrooms for Dogs

Shiitake mushrooms, scientifically known as Lentinula edodes, contain key polysaccharides, especially lentinan, which significantly support the immune system. These components support normal blood values, making shiitake mushrooms particularly valuable for enhancing immune function to support and promote long-term health.

Shiitakes are nutrient-rich, packed with vitamins D and B, selenium, zinc, and dietary fiber, supporting digestive and cardiovascular health. They also contain antioxidants which help eliminate free radicals associated with the aging process.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Dogs

2 Siberian Huskies in grass next to Earth Buddy functional mushroom powder to support immune function in dogs and cats.

Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) are renowned for providing nutritional support for healthy immune function. They are rich in polysaccharopeptides, like polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and polysaccharide-peptide (PSP), which help in enhancing the immune response. Turkey Tail is recommended for dogs seven years or older to support and maintain proper body functions and overall good quality of life.

Turkey Tail mushrooms contain prebiotics, which helps maintain gut flora in the digestive tract. A healthy gut microbiome helps maintain the general health of all ages and breeds, as it aids in digestion and nutrient absorption, and supports the immune system.

They contain antioxidants which help eliminate free radicals associated with the aging process. Antioxidants also support cellular health and reduce the negative effects of oxidative stress.

The Health Benefits of Maiitake Mushrooms for Dogs

Maitake mushrooms, or Grifola frondosa, are known for their immune enhancing effects, thanks to their rich content of beta-glucans and other polysaccharides that promote innate resistance to pathogens. Maitake is also recognized for its potential in helping maintain blood glucose levels within normal range, which may assist the body with the normal clearance of glucose.

These mushrooms help support liver function and digestive health, support normal detoxification processes, and support normal GI health and function. Nutrient-dense, maitake mushrooms provide essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, offering additional nutrients to complement your dog’s regular diet.

The Health Benefits of Cordyceps Mushrooms for Dogs

Cordyceps mushrooms, scientifically known as Cordyceps sinensis, are renowned for supporting energy production and helping support stamina and endurance, making them particularly advantageous for aging dogs, active breeds, and working dogs. Traditionally valued for supporting respiratory health, Cordyceps support oxygen utilization and support normal integrity and function of lungs.

Cordyceps may also enhance liver and kidney functions, support normal detoxification processes and help maintain normal liver and kidney function. These mushrooms also play a crucial role in supporting the immune system.

Cordyceps may also help support joint flexibility and mobility, help maintain healthy bone and joint function, and nutritional support for connective tissue.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms for Dogs for Cognitive Function

Lion’s Mane mushrooms, or Hericium erinaceus, support normal brain health and nerve function. They contain compounds that not only promote normal healthy brain activity but also have the potential to help support cognitive function and promote nerve growth factor, making them especially valuable for supporting and promoting long-term health.

In addition to these brain-health benefits, Lion’s Mane contains immune enhancing polysaccharides like beta-glucans, supporting a healthy immune system in all animals. The mushroom’s prebiotics balance the animal’s intestinal microflora, crucial for enhancing the physical and mental well-being of an animal, helping support proper digestion and bowel health, and providing supporting nutrients for the health of aging animals.

Lion’s Mane also contains antioxidants like the other medicinal mushrooms. Antioxidants have been shown to aid in the elimination of unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals. They may also help animals maintain a normal and relaxed disposition.

The Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms for Dogs

Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) are well known for supporting normal bodily functions, which play a crucial role in helping reduce oxidative stress. This action may help protect body cells and tissues. Chaga also supports normal digestive function which helps support proper digestion and bowel health.

Functional Mushroom Supplements Product Background

Blue jar with white label of Earth Buddy functional mushroom supplement powder for cats and dogs with allergies.

Earth Buddy offers multiple products containing USDA organic functional mushroom products. Functional mushrooms in the product include agarikon, lion’s mane, cordyceps, reishi, and turkey tail for dogs and cats. All of these mushrooms contain bioactive compounds including polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and triterpenoids.

All mushrooms are sourced here in the United States so you can rest assured that they aren’t being transported from overseas where environmental regulations are often looser.

Earth Buddy’s Functional Mushroom Products

Earth Buddy has several products that include all the functional mushrooms listed above. Products that are currently available include:

Black Lab sitting with tongue out waiting for Earth Buddy functional mushroom capsules with Kief CBD for dogs suffering from allergies.

  • Focus & Immune Adaptogenic Mushrooms Blend: This adaptogenic mushrooms blend combines the benefit of functional mushrooms with solvent-free CBD for dogs and cats in capsule form for precise dosage of functional mushrooms and cannabinoids. Mushroom capsules can be opened and mixed into food.
  • Immune Tincture for Allergy & Immune Support: This liquid tincture contains elderberry extract & our 5 functional mushrooms to help maintain normal histamine levels while offering a sweet taste. Better for fussy eaters and easily mixed in food.
  • Immunity Organic Mushroom Powder: This is the most potent powdered mushroom product on the market. It’s made with freeze dried fruit body and mycelium extract to offer a full spectrum of bioavailable compounds from all 5 functional mushrooms. Check out our blog about why both of these are important here.

For further reading, we recommend:

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