In Cancer, Cancer, Supplements

A Guide to the Important Medical Mushrooms for Pets

Although all medical mushrooms have in common their beta glucans, each mushroom has a slightly different expression of its medically active components. So we know that there are some mushrooms, like the Turkey Tail for instance, that based on hundreds of years of practical use we have come to learn of its benefits for cancer patients. Likewise, other mushrooms have also been found to have specific medicinal applications, and I’d like to discuss those different mushrooms and their applications here.

Turkey Tail: Also Known as Coriolus versicolor or Trametes versicolor (Chinese = Yun Zhi or Cloud Fungus, Kawaratake)

This mushroom is pretty easy to identify, it has bands of colors across its fan-shaped mushroom cap resembling the colors of a wild turkey’s tail feathers. It is an important part of forest ecology, as it is a recycler of dead and dying trees. Turkey tail is found world wide, with around 15 species found in North America alone. Both the mushroom cap and the mycelial mass manufacture a number of biologically active molecules, many of which have potent anti-cancer properties. There has been more research on this species of mushroom than on any other. In China the mushroom extracts are used extensively for human cancer patients, along with specialized Chinese herbal formulas to break up the cancers. The Chinese medical philosophy believes that cancers are often areas where the energy and the tissues are stagnant and create blockages. By breaking up the stasis in these stagnant areas these herbal formulas help to tear apart the cancer (the herbal formula is a stasis breaker). When used in combination with medical mushrooms like the Turkey Tail these therapies can be very effective.

The best known polysaccharide extracts of the Coriolus turkey tail mushroom are called polysaccharopeptide Krestin (PSK) and polysaccharopeptide (PSP). Krestin is an approved anti-cancer drug in Asia and is responsible for several hundred millions of dollars of sales. In Japan PSK is routinely prescribed to cancer patients both during and after radiation and chemotherapy. When used this way it has been found to help reduce the side-effects of these strong cancer therapies, by reducing the lowered white blood cell counts that are common following radiation or chemotherapy treatments. It was the PSP extract that was used in the study that was performed at the University of Pennsylvania on dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma.

Reishi Mushroom: Ganoderma lucidum (Chinese: Ling Zhi)

The Ganoderma  (or Reishi) mushroom has been called “The herb of Immortality” for centuries. The darkly pigmented, woody textured, flat and shiny, kidney-shaped fruiting body of the mushroom grows widely around the world, and prefers to grow on dead hardwood trees. In the US you can find it on the northern section of the East Coast, the Gulf Coast and the Southwest. It grows widely in Asia, Europe and South America. The ganoderma mushroom is considered to be a tonic and longevity herb because it tonifies and detoxifies. It has been found to improve quality of life in elderly patients. The polysaccharide that Ganoderma produces is called PS-G. It has been found to suppress leukemia cells from dividing, and promoted apoptosis, and death in these cell lines.

Like many mushrooms, the properties that provide Reishi with anti-cancer properties also help with its anti-viral and anti-microbial activity. It has been found that the Ganoderma mushroom has activity against the herpes virus. The triterpenes in ganoderma have been found to have both antioxidant benefits as well as helping to lower blood pressure, and reducing allergic reactions. Other properties that have been determined for the ganoderma mushroom include enhancing bone marrow production, helping to regenerate bronchial epithelium, increases the number of white blood cells, protects against ionizing radiation, reduces the toxic effects of caffeine, and works as a muscle relaxant and analgesic.

Shiitake Mushroom: Lentinula edodes

Its interesting to note that some of the most powerful medicinal mushrooms, are also some of the tastiest mushrooms you could ever eat. In particular, the shiitake mushroom is one of the tastiest of the tasty, when it comes to edible mushrooms. Yet at the same time, it has some of the most potent anti-cancer components and some of the best research showing its scientifically determined ability to decrease blood cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease, reduce blood pressure and fight cancer. Shiitake is a good vitality tonic, and has been found to be especially good for the older pet. Shiitake has been found to turn on the white blood cells to work harder to strengthen the immune response. Shiitake contains a number of substances that have different functions. For instance, in addition to the beta glucans found in its cell wall, it also contains Lentinin, which  has anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties by increasing T lymphocytes and inhibiting viruses. Eritadenine, another compound found in Shiitake, lowers cholesterol, and improves circulation. The LEM, which is a protein bound with Vitamin B compounds and sugars has liver protectant properties as well as being able to stimulate the immune system via the T lymphocytes and NK t cells to have anti-viral and anti-tumor properties.

How to Give Mushrooms to Dogs and Cats

Fortunately for most pet parents, most mushrooms taste pretty good. The ganoderma (Reishi mushroom) as powerful as it is, unfortunately is quite bitter, and many pets don’t like the taste. If the ganoderma is blended with more bland tasting mushrooms then it might be accepted. There are no accepted dosages for mushrooms based on scientific studies in dogs and cats, but they are harmless, and in many cases more is better. Of course you can only give as much as your pet will accept if it comes in a loose powder. If its encapsulated you can get a lot more into your pet. Cats are not dogs, and often are pickier about what they will or won’t accept, so what has worked for me to help cat parents get the good stuff into their picky kitty, is to start by giving a very tiny amount, and mix it with some tasty food that they would kill for. This way they get a little taste, but think that it tastes mostly like the good stuff. Then, slowly over a period of several days to a week, gradually increase the amount of mushroom mixed with the bribe food, until they are getting an optimal dosage. For powder, with cats, I usually start with a pinch and work up to a 1/4 teaspoon, ideally twice daily. For dogs, who aren’t as discriminating, they can take as much as a tablespoon twice daily with no problems. For special mushroom extracts, like the PSP Coriolus mushroom extract, the dosage is based on weight. Give 1 capsule for every 10 pounds of body weight daily. Cat are always a challenge, but often that is what attracts cat people to cat “fur people”. Here is an interesting article about the difference between cat and dog people: http://topreveal.com/cat-owners-vs-dog-owners

Dr. Rob Silver
Revised April 5 2017

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Doc Rob
Dr. Robert Silver DVM, MS, CVA achieved his lifetime goal of becoming a veterinarian when he graduated from Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. In the 90s, after creating Boulder’s Natural Animal, a Holistic Wellness Center, Dr. Silver established effective protocols for a number of serious, potentially life-threatening chronic diseases in dogs and cats, such as cancer, allergies, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease, Canine epilepsy, and behavior problems. Dr. Silver's has also designed nutritional and herbal formulas for RxVitamins for Pets and worked directly with pets who have been given cannabis and hemp by their owners to address a number of difficult conditions such as epilepsy, pain, cancer and behavior problems. Although retired from day-to-day practice, Dr. Silver still consults on difficult cases referred from veterinarians, and continues to work as Chief Medical Officer for RxVitamins for Pets.
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  • Katy
    Reply

    Can my cat have a blend of: reishi, Chaga, shiitake, maitake, and turkey tail? If so, what dose? The blend that I am looking at has 300mg of each. My cat is 17 and has blood in his urine and the vet say it might be bladder cancer or feline idiopathic cystitis after testing. Any other suggestions?

    • Doc Rob
      Reply

      Katy:
      That sounds like a good blend. its impossible for me to know how potent it is, but most cats won’t accept more than 1/4 teaspoon of powder mixed in their food twice daily, so I would start with a smaller amount, like 1/8 teaspoon twice daily and see how she does, and then increase it if she is doing well to the 1/4 teaspoon twice daily dosage. If she has FIC, there is a human product available by prescription, that maybe your vet would write you one to get at the human pharmacy. Its called Elmiron, and cats get 100 mg twice daily. If it is FIC, it will help a lot, and then you’ll know its not bladder cancer.

  • Debra Ekerholm
    Reply

    Kiai is 13 years old and has had IBD and small cell lymphoma in the intestinal tract for 2 – 2 1/2 years. She is on Prednisolone (4mg daily), chlorambucil (2 mg 3 times a week), Plavix (daily), Proviable DC (daily), folic acid (daily) and Cystaid Plus (for bladder stone, daily). She will be seeing an eye specialist early April for recurring torn corneas. Should she be taking Turkey Tail Mushroom and how much? Thank you.

    • Doc Rob
      Reply

      Debra, the Turkey Tail is one of the best medical mushrooms to give. Depending on which product you have, there is differing potencies. If you have a powder, in general i recommend starting at a low dosage, especially since Kiai is older with a lot of problems, and after a few weeks and she seems ok on that lower dosage, i would then increase it to 1/4 teaspoon twice daily. If she is getting the PSP COriolus that comes in capsules, then we dose that at 1 capsule for each 10 pounds of body weight. You can divide that dose up into two or three administrations to make sure the will take it.

  • Cheryl
    Reply

    My dog had her spleen out and she has hemangiosarcoma we are gonna try the turkey tail we figure out proper dosage for her but now we don’t know if we give her the daily dose (5-6 pills) all at once or throughout the day? Can you help thank you very much

    • Doc Rob
      Reply

      Sorry for my late reply. I hope I’m not too late, but for other people reading this, you can give the PSP Coriolus mushroom extract capsules all at once or divide them into two administrations. Its best if you give them without food to improve absorption.
      Dr. Silver

  • Soontrie
    Reply

    Please, my dog aged 13 yrs old is diagnosed with tumor in her mouth.
    Can I use the Turkey Tail mushrooms from Host Defense for her?
    Her weight is 18.6 kg. What will be the ideal dose, pls?
    I just started giving her Budwig diet 2 days ago and still make progress in quantity giving.
    Is it possible to have her on Bigwig along with Turkey Tail?
    I am desperately looking for your reply.
    Thank you.

    • Doc Rob
      Reply

      Turkey tail is a very powerful mushroom. I’m sorry to hear of your dog’s oral tumor.
      I’d give a lot at a time, as much as she can handle, maybe 3 capsules three times daily.
      The latest diet for cancer to try that is a variation of the Budwig diet is the Ketogenic diet. There is a lot of information about it lately.
      Dr. Silver

  • mocha
    Reply

    my dog 12 years old weight 14 pound, also diagnosis with tumor in her heart expected to live only a week, but she seem very strong in life. I also want to try the mushroom on her but what dosage should I give her?

    • Doc Rob
      Reply

      I’m sorry to hear about your pups illness. I would use a 1/2 teaspoon of mushroom powder three times daily to help support her.
      Dr. Silver

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