Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years for their potential medicinal qualities. The Chinese believe in the healing power of nature and that plants can help maintain good health. The United States has only recently caught on to the health benefits of the most popular functional mushrooms, using them in complementary medicine and alternative medicine.
In recent years, these powerful fungi have attracted attention for their potential to enhance the well-being of our canine companions as well. This article will explore the potential benefits of medicinal mushrooms for dogs, including their immune enhancing effects, antioxidant protection, ability to promote healthy inflammatory pathways, and how they can be incorporated into your dog’s diet for optimal health.
Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Before we dive into individual mushroom species, let’s take a look at the overall health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.
Immune System Support
One of the best-known potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms is their ability to support and promote the immune system. Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to the effects from the surrounding world. That’s part of the reason you will see them available as adaptogenic dietary supplements.
Medicinal mushrooms contain polysaccharides, specifically beta-glucans, which have been shown to promote the immune response by stimulating the production of white blood cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and T-cells.
Inflammatory Response and Antioxidant Effects
Medicinal mushrooms are rich in compounds that help maintain a normal inflammatory response. For example, reishi mushrooms contain triterpenes, which have been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory response molecules, while chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants that assist the body in combating environmental toxins.
Liver and Kidney Support
The liver and kidneys play essential roles in detoxification and waste elimination, and maintaining their health is crucial for your dog’s overall well-being. Medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps and reishi have demonstrated hepatoprotective and nephroprotective properties, helping to support liver and kidney function by maintaining a normal inflammatory response and supporting normal detoxification processes.
Cognitive and Neurological Support
As dogs age, they may experience cognitive decline and neurological issues. Medicinal mushrooms like lion’s mane have shown potential in promoting brain health and cognitive function.
The bioactive compounds in lion’s mane, such as hericenones and erinacines, stimulate the production of nerve growth factors (NGFs) that support the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. This may help promote cognitive function, memory, and maintain proper body functions and overall good quality of life.
Improvement in Behavior
Adaptogenic mushrooms can promote coping with external stress by releasing hormones like cortisol. This can help promote a sense of calm and well-being. They may also reduce hyperactivity and promote relaxation.
Highlighting Individual Medicinal Mushroom Species for Dogs
There are several medicinal mushrooms for dogs that have been of interest. These include:
- Agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis)
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum s.l.)
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
Let’s take a look at each of these individually.
Agarikon Mushrooms for Dogs
Agarikon mushrooms are known as the “elixir of long life,” and could potentially be one of the oldest and longest-living mushrooms on Earth. They’re native to conifer forests in North America and Europe. If you find photos of them, you’ll notice they’re shaped like beehives and generally hang from the branches of old, tall trees. Like the other medicinal mushrooms outlined in this article, Agarikon mushrooms contain essential amino acids vital for healthy cell growth.
Health benefits of agarikon mushrooms may include:
- Immune system support: Agarikon mushrooms are known to provide nutritional support for healthy immune function.
- Antioxidant properties: These mushrooms contain antioxidants that help remove damaging free radicals from the body.
- Respiratory health: Agarikon mushrooms help support normal respiratory function and health and support normal integrity and function of the lungs.
Cordyceps Mushrooms for Dogs
Cordyceps lives on caterpillars and was originally discovered in the Himalayas mountains. Local herders discovered the benefits of this fungus when their cattle began consuming this mushroom type and showed an increase in overall health and wellness. Like the other mushrooms indicated in this article, cordyceps is known to promote immunomodulation. Unlike many others, it has an additional benefit regarding blood sugar regulation.
Health benefits of Cordyceps may include:
- Energy and endurance: Cordyceps mushrooms help support stamina and endurance, which could be particularly beneficial for working dogs.
- Immune system support: Cordyceps mushrooms are known to promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens.
- Antioxidant properties: Cordyceps mushrooms contain antioxidants. Antioxidants have been shown to aid in the elimination of unstable oxygen molecules called
- free radicals which helps reduce oxidative stress and may help protect body cells and tissues.
- Respiratory health: Some evidence suggests that Cordyceps mushrooms can help improve respiratory health by supporting normal respiratory function and health.
- Kidney health: Cordyceps mushrooms support normal function and health of the kidneys.
- Blood sugar regulation: Cordyceps mushrooms help with blood sugar regulation by maintaining blood glucose levels within normal range and help support glucose metabolism. This mushroom is also known to support healthy blood pressure.
- Support for allergies: Cordyceps helps maintain normal histamine levels and provides support for pets with seasonal allergies.
Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are large, white mushrooms that are not only used as medicinal mushrooms, but also in the culinary world. This is an edible mushroom that can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. They’re adaptogenic mushrooms that contain antioxidants and beta-glucans, among other bioactive compounds. Lion’s Mane has been shown to have a higher amount of antioxidants than most other mushroom types and plays a role in stimulating NGF (nerve growth factor), a protein that plays a critical role in activating neurons in the brain.
The health benefits of Lion’s Mane medicinal mushrooms for dogs include:
- Cognitive support: Lion’s Mane mushrooms are known for their potential neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing properties. These mushrooms may help support brain health and cognitive function in dogs. They are known to support and promote long-term health and are recommended for dogs seven years or older to support and maintain proper body functions and overall good quality of life.
- Immune system support: Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain beta-glucans and other compounds that may help modulate the immune system and enhance your dog’s immune response.
- Antioxidant properties: These mushrooms contain antioxidants that helps eliminate free radicals associated with the aging process.
- Digestive health: Lion’s Mane mushrooms may help support digestive health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and promoting healthy inflammatory pathways in the digestive tract.
- Wound healing: Lion’s Mane mushrooms have been found to promote wound healing by helping to protect body cells and tissues.
Reishi Mushrooms for Dogs
Reishi mushrooms are known as the “mushrooms of immortality.” These mushrooms grow in hot and humid areas of Asia and are edible mushrooms. They can be consumed in fresh or powdered forms, but are also served as teas and Reishi mushroom extracts in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s one of the most heavily researched mushrooms and is commonly used by holistic practitioners. They can be found naturally on oak or maple trees.
Health benefits of Reishi mushrooms for dogs include:
- Immune system support: Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which provide nutritional support for healthy immune function.
- Antioxidant properties: Reishi mushrooms contain antioxidants that promote healthy inflammatory pathways and scavenges free radicals.
- Liver support: Reishi mushrooms support normal cleansing of the liver from impurities enhancing liver function and supporting normal function and health of the liver.
- Behavioral properties: Reishi mushrooms are known for their adaptogenic properties, which may promote a sense of relaxation and mental alertness without drowsiness.
- Cardiovascular/ Heart health: Reishi mushrooms may possess health benefits for cardiovascular health, including supporting normal circulatory function and supporting normal blood pressure. All the discussed mushrooms also contain vitamin D which also promotes heart health.
- Respiratory health: Reishi helps support normal respiratory function and health and promotes oxygen utilization.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Dogs
Turkey Tail mushrooms are multicolored fungi that grow on fallen trees and tree trunks in wooded areas. This mushroom is one of the most thoroughly documented mushrooms in scientific literature and can be used as a tincture or powder supplement. Research suggests that, like other medicinal mushrooms, both the fruiting body and mycelium should be utilized to maximize the potential health benefits.
Health benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms may include:
- Immune system support: Turkey Tail mushrooms contain beta-glucans and other compounds that support normal inflammatory pathways and promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens.
- Antioxidant properties: These mushrooms contain antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals associated with the aging process.
- Digestive health: Turkey Tail mushrooms supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines and assists in the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients.
- Liver support: Turkey Tail maintains healthy liver function, supports healthy waste elimination, and promotes metabolic functioning of the liver.
Combining 5 Powerful Medicinal Mushrooms in Earth Buddy’s Products
If you are interested in learning more about medicinal mushrooms, the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms has been developed for those who want to dive deeper. These are among the healthiest mushrooms in the world.
When combined, these mushrooms can work synergistically to improve your dog’s quality of life. Earth Buddy’s Immune tincture and Immunity powder utilize these ingredients. Both the powder and liquid extracts are made for faster and easier absorption in the digestive process and contain enzymes to promote a healthy gut microbiome.
Earth Buddy’s products are developed with dehydrated fruiting bodies and mycelium, with zero fillers, to provide a full-spectrum of bioavailable compounds in a high-quality product. They’re grown in Colorado, USA in a USDA Organic Facility.
Most mushroom supplements are sourced overseas, often from China, with little to no third-party testing, and are rarely extracted. To top it off, they’re also frequently high in carbs. Unlike many other organizations, the products at Earth Buddy Pet are third-party tested for purity and potency, with lab results available for transparency so you can see exactly what each product contains. Each product has also been triple-extracted to provide a full-spectrum of beta glucans, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids to activate a balanced immune response in dogs.
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