When it comes to cancer in our dogs and cats, vets are not focused on curing the disease but rather putting it into remission. That may sound strange, but vets have decided that it's best to treat cancer without putting pets through any unnecessarily suffering. The best option is still to go through with traditional treatment, but many pet parents have found success by adding alternative treatments to complement their vet’s treatment plan. One option, medicinal mushrooms, are all-natural and have shown promising effects when it comes to increasing vitality in sick pets.
Medicinal mushrooms are particular species of natural fungi. They contain compounds that are proving to be effective in combatting cancer and its side effects, as well as a number of other life-threatening health problems in pets. More and more research is being published on these powerful mushrooms, and it’s becoming clear that medicinal mushrooms may be an effective and natural way to manage immune problems and other major illnesses when conventional medicine has nowhere else to turn.
There is not just one type of medicinal mushroom—there are many different species, each with its own set of unique benefits. If you’re considering medicinal mushrooms for your pet, it’s important to understand the different types of mushrooms and what benefits each can offer to your pet for the most effective treatment.
Common medicinal mushroom attributes
Most medicinal mushrooms contain powerful compounds that provide them with anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Some compounds include antioxidants, fatty acids, proteins, terpenes and beta-glucans—all of which are useful in strengthening the body’s immune system and aiding the body in its fight against cancer or illness.
However, the specific levels of each compound can vary between mushroom species. In many cases, medicinal mushrooms will be combined into a single blend to provide a synergistic effect. Different mushrooms with varying compounds may be more effective than a single type of mushroom.
Top mushroom choices
There are a few particular types of medicinal mushrooms that have been the source of studies and evidence of benefits for both cats and dogs. Many offer benefits that are similar to one another, such as immune support, but there are a few key differences between them that may help with more specific health problems.
The following seven medicinal mushrooms may offer your pet health benefits:
- Reishi: The Reishi mushroom, also known at Ling Zhi, is one of the most prevalent medicinal mushrooms for pet cancer treatment because of its ability to stimulate the immune system so “killer” cells are able to control the spread of cancer. It contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, meaning it’s a good remedy for a variety of illnesses, including colds and infections. Reishi is known for improving the quality of life in pets who take it and is best used to treat cancer, heart disease, immune problems and liver detoxification.
- Chaga: The Chaga mushroom is another great mushroom for bolstering your pet’s immunity because of its antioxidant compounds. It is also believed to improve strength, endurance and energy, which can be instrumental in helping your pet with cancer maintain a good quality of life as they endure traditional cancer treatment. Chaga may also have anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties to aid in tumor size reduction.
- Cordyceps: Cordyceps is a life-enhancing, vitality-improving mushroom that provides powerful immune support. Like Reishi, Cordyceps can be used to treat a wide range of illnesses, including cancer, kidney disorders, respiratory illness and heart disease. In terms of cancer, Cordyceps may help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy and slow tumor growth through the regeneration of white blood cells.
- Maitake: Maitake’s high levels of beta-glucans enhance the immune system and provide powerful anti-tumor effects. It is one of the main mushrooms used to treat cancer in pets. In addition to cancer, Maitake is beneficial to brain and nerve function, helps lower cholesterol and is useful in treating diabetes because it can help stabilize blood sugar.
- Lion’s Mane: Lion’s Mane contains anti-cancer properties, which can aid in tumor size reduction, white blood cell regeneration and immune support. Through these properties, the mushroom may limit the spread of malignant tumors in cancer patients. Additionally, Lion’s Mane has positive effects on brain, eye and circulatory health and is a useful anti-inflammatory in pets with digestive conditions.
- Turkey Tail: Turkey Tail is presumed to be a powerful immunity booster and all-over cancer support supplement, potentially helping to reduce tumor sizes and prevent new tumors from forming. Research has shown improved survival time in canine hemangiosarcoma patients who ingest Turkey Tail. The Turkey Tail mushroom is also believed to be useful in aiding digestion, and it is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it promotes homeostasis in the body and helps your pet more effectively manage stress.
- Shiitake: Shiitake mushrooms contain over 30 enzymes and 10 amino acids, as well as variety of minerals—all of which contribute to its effective immune support properties. The mushroom can stimulate white blood cells to provide antibiotic effects, as well as soothe inflammation and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. It is commonly used to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in pets.
When considering medicinal mushrooms for your pet, no matter what ailment they are experiencing, it’s important to discuss your options with your pet’s veterinarian to ensure you choose the right ones. In many cases, your vet may recommend a mushroom blend to leverage the immune-supporting and anti-cancer properties of multiple mushrooms at once.