The mushroom of immortality. That gets your attention! You want your dog to live forever, don’t you?
Well … you might be able to extend your dog’s life by giving her this mushroom.
The mushroom of immortality is one of the names for reishi … a powerful medicinal mushroom that’s been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in Japan and Korea. You’ll also see reishi called by their botanical name Ganoderma lucidum or the Chinese name Ling zhi.
I want to share with you the top 6 reasons to give reishi mushrooms to your dog … and below I will share some of the best brands to buy to make sure you’re getting a good reishi supplement.
But first, let’s summarize what research tells us about reishi’s health benefits.
What Reishi Mushrooms Do
Unlike many other medicinal plants, reishi mushrooms have been studied extensively and their many medicinal properties are supported by clinical research.
These are some of the actions of reishi mushrooms that have been confirmed by clinical studies …
- Immune system support
- Protect the liver
- Support kidney health
- Relieve allergies
- Control blood sugar
- Regulate blood pressure
These benefits of reishi mushrooms make them a potent supplement to support your dog’s health in many ways.
6 Reasons To Give Your Dog Reishi Mushrooms
So … here’s our list of the top 6 reasons to give reishi mushrooms to your dog.
#1 Fight Cancer
Reishi mushrooms have long been used to treat cancer in China and Japan. Their constituents include triterpenes, compounds that have many medicinal benefits. Studies have shown their anti-cancer properties.
Reishi also contain beta glucans, which are complex sugars that are known to modulate the immune system … this means they boost the immune system but don’t over-stimulate it. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, reishi can correct the immune system whether it’s deficient or excessive.
Research shows reishi mushrooms’ ability to support the immune system in fighting and preventing cancer. Reishi may stop cancer growth and evenshrink tumors in some cases. They can also help prevent secondary cancers. Studies also show that reishi can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatment.[Related: Natural Treatment Of Cancer In Dogs]
#2 Protect The Liver
Your dog can’t live without a healthy liver … so giving foods or supplements that help the liver do its job is a really good idea.
Reishi mushrooms have antioxidant properties that help nourish, detoxify and protect the liver. These antioxidant properties minimize the damaging effects of free radicals that can slow down liver function.
Reishi can help with renewal of liver cells, strengthen the liver overall and improve the detox process.
In a study on rats, reishi has even been shown to reverse liver fibrosis, which is the final stage of fatty liver disease and is usually not treatable.
Reishi has also been used successfully to treat hepatitis B and liver cirrhosis in humans. While these aren’t dog diseases, this fact demonstrates the healing power reishi can bring to the liver.
Caution: if your dog already has severe liver disease, consult your holistic veterinarian before giving reishi.[Related: Liver Disease In Dogs: A Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective]
#3 Manage Diabetes
Studies show reishi mushrooms can help manage diabetes. They can lower blood sugar and help regulate glucose levels.
Research also shows reishi mushrooms can prevent or slow kidney complications that can often develop in diabetics.
Another side effect of diabetes is that wounds can be slow to heal … and the antioxidants in reishi can also speed wound healing for diabetic patients.
If your dog’s on insulin or other medication for diabetes, talk to your holistic vet about how reishi might help reduce the need for these drugs.[Related: What Causes Diabetes In Dogs?]
#4 Support Heart Health
In Japan, reishi mushrooms are a traditional treatment for circulatory problems. In Traditional Chinese Medicine reishi is used as a general tonic for the whole cardiovascular system.
Reishi act as vasodilators, improving blood supply and oxygen delivery to the heart. Vasodilators open blood vessels so that blood flows more easily and the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard.
Reishi have a blood thinning effect (so they shouldn’t be given in conjunction with blood thinning drugs like warfarin).
Reishi can also reduce blood pressure and can help relieve heart arrhythmia.
#5 Control Allergies
Reishi contain ganoderic acid, a triterpene that inhibits the release of histamines that cause allergic reactions.
Allergic reactions are an improper immune response … so allergies are another disorder that reishi’s immune modulating powers can help with. Reishi also have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that can reduce allergy symptoms like itching and difficulty breathing.
Reishi can have a healing effect on the lungs, relieving coughs and other respiratory issues.[Related: Canine Allergies: A New Look]
#6 Slow Aging
Reishi can delay the aging process and reduce aging symptoms.
A study of a reishi supplement fed to mice resulted in longer lifespans and reduced death risks. Increased longevity is one of the benefits reishi are famous for … and the reason for the mushroom of immortality name!
Reishi can fight immunosenescence … the gradual decline of the immune system brought on by the aging process over time.
Reishi’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent and even reverse cognitive decline, as well as manage aging joint issues like arthritis.
Reishi mushrooms have very few reported side effects, but in humans nausea and insomnia have been reported in a few cases. For dogs it’s best to start slowly to avoid any digestive upset.
Reishi mushrooms have anti-clotting effects and shouldn’t be combined with blood thinning drugs. Avoid giving reishi to pregnant or lactating females as studies haven’t covered this group of patients.
How To Give Reishi To Your Dog
Reishi mushrooms taste quite bitter, so the best way to give them to your dog is usually in a tincture or powder/capsule formula.
Note: If you do want to give your dog whole reishi mushrooms be sure to cook them thoroughly; raw mushrooms are very indigestible and may be toxic to dogs. Making a tea or soup is a good way to feed fresh or dried mushrooms.
There’s a wide variety of quality in mushroom supplements so it’s important to do your research before buying and find an organic product if you can. Reishi can also be used in conjunction with other mushrooms and you’ll often see supplements that combine reishi mushrooms with maitake, shiitake, cordyceps or turkey tail.
Here are a few suggestions.
Veterinarian Dr Marty Goldstein uses mushrooms a lot and recommends the Mushroom Wisdom brand. This company’s mushrooms are grown in China without any pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers and final manufacturing is done at a pharmaceutical GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) manufacturer in the US, where stringent lab tests are performed to confirm purity of the final product.
Dosage: Both of these products are packaged for humans, so assume the dosage instructions are for a 150 lb person and adjust the amount according to your dog’s weight. Start with a lower dose and work up gradually to avoid any digestive upset.
Canine Matrix makes a line of mushroom supplements for dogs and several of their formulas contain reishi. Their mushrooms are certified 100% organic, grown, processed and packaged in California.
Dosage: If you want to buy one of these blends especially made for dogs, follow the dosing instruction on the label.
The same company’s Om brand formulas for people include a reishi powder.
Dosage: Again, this supplement is packaged for humans so adjust the dose for your dog’s weight, assuming the dosage is for a 150 lb person.
Summing Up …
Many holistic veterinarians who use mushrooms in their practice advocate using reishi for dogs. Ihor Basko DVM says:
Reishi mushrooms are my favorite mushroom to consume for my own health benefits, and my favorite mushroom to use in my holistic practice (in combination with herbs, other mushrooms, and antioxidants). […] In general, reishi mushrooms are good to use with pets experiencing chronic degenerative processes, weakened immune systems, dysfunctioning liver, heart or kidney systems, or general weakness.
Reishi mushrooms may not make your dog immortal (that’s a lot to ask of a mushroom), but they can do a lot of wonderful things for her health!