Do you want your dog to live forever? Then feed him reishi mushrooms!
This might be a bit of an exaggeration but reishi is pretty powerful as medicinal mushrooms go. The reishi mushroom is called the mushroom of immortality. And it’s had that reputation in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Reishi is also known by its botanical name Ganoderma lucidum or its Chinese name Ling zhi.
Let’s look at the top 6 reasons to give reishi mushrooms to your dog. And then you’ll learn how to make sure you’re getting a good reishi supplement.
But first, let’s review the research into health benefits of the reishi mushroom.
What Do Reishi Mushrooms Do?
Many other medicinal plants might lack scientific studies … but not the reishi mushroom. There’s a lot of clinical research supporting reishi’s medicinal properties.
- Immune system support
- Control blood sugar
- Regulate blood pressure
- Protect the liver
- Support kidney health
- Allergy relief
These benefits make reishi a potent supplement for your dog’s health.
6 Reasons To Give Reishi Mushrooms To Your Dog
Keep in mind these 6 reasons to give your dog these wonderful mushrooms.
Reishi mushrooms have a long history of treating cancer in China and Japan. The reishi mushroom contains triterpenes, compounds that have many medicinal benefits. Studies confirm their anti-cancer properties.
Reishi mushrooms also contain beta glucans that modulate the immune system. They boost the immune system without over-stimulating it.
Additional research shows reishi mushrooms can support the immune system to fight and prevent cancer. They may stop cancer growth and can even shrink tumors. Reishi can help prevent secondary cancers too. Studies have also found reishi mushrooms reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
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#2 Liver Support
A healthy liver is vital to your dog’s health.
Reishi mushrooms have antioxidant properties to nourish, detoxify and protect the liver. These antioxidant effects help control free radicals that can reduce liver function.
It can also renew liver cells, strengthen the liver and improve the detox process.
One study on rats showed reishi mushrooms reversed liver fibrosis. That’s the final stage of fatty liver disease when treatment isn’t usually possible.
Reishi can also help hepatitis B and liver cirrhosis in humans. These aren’t dog diseases, but this shows the healing power of reishi.
Caution: if your dog already has severe liver disease, ask your holistic vet before giving reishi.
#3 Blood Sugar And Diabetes Control
Studies show reishi mushrooms can manage diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.
Additional research shows they also prevent or slow kidney issues that can develop in diabetics. And the antioxidants in reishi can speed wound healing in diabetic patients. Ask your holistic vet if reishi mushrooms might help your diabetic dog.
#4 Support Cardiovascular Health
Reishi mushrooms are a traditional remedy for circulatory problems in Japan. In traditional Chinese medicine, reishi is a general tonic for the cardiovascular system.
Reishi is a vasodilator that improves blood supply and oxygen delivery to the heart. Vasodilators widen blood vessels so the heart doesn’t have to work as hard.
Reishi also has a blood thinning effect so don’t use it with blood thinning drugs.
Reishi can also help reduce blood pressure as well as relieve heart arrhythmia.
#5 Allergy Control
Another component of reishi is ganoderic acid. It’s a triterpene that blocks the release of histamines that cause allergic reactions.
Allergic reactions from an improper immune response. When this happens, reishi’s immune modulating powers can help. Reishi’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions can also reduce allergy symptoms like itching and difficulty breathing.
Reishi can relieve coughs and other respiratory issues as it has a healing effect on the lungs.
Reishi may slow the aging process and lower aging symptoms.
When mice ate a reishi supplement, a study reported longer lifespans and reduced death risks. Increased longevity like this is just one of the benefits reishi is famous for. And one more reason to call it the mushroom of immortality. Reishi can fight immunosenescence, which is the natural weakening of the immune system as the body ages.
Reishi’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have had good results preventing and even reversing cognitive decline. And it can help with joint issues like arthritis.
There are very few side effects associated with reishi mushrooms. There have been a few cases of nausea and insomnia in humans. When giving reishi to your dog, just start slow to avoid tummy upset.
Anti-clotting is another quality of reishi mushrooms. As mentioned earlier, don’t combine them with blood thinning drugs. Also avoid giving reishi to pregnant or lactating females. There haven’t been any studies on these patients.
How To Give Reishi Mushrooms To Your Dog
Reishi mushrooms have a bitter taste. It’s best to give them to your dog as a tincture or powder/capsule formula. When buying powdered reishi mushrooms, you need to be sure they were double extracted to get their medicinal value.
Note: If you choose to give your dog whole reishi mushrooms, cook them thoroughly to be safe and provide nutritional benefits. This is because raw mushrooms are very indigestible and may be toxic to dogs. As an alternative, make a tea or soup, which is a good way to feed fresh or dried mushrooms to your dog.
When looking for mushroom supplements, it’s important to do your research. If you can find organically grown, that’s best. You want to find out how the mushrooms are grown. The problem is that many mushroom supplements are grown on grain and are only mycelium. This isn’t the full mushroom but a partially grown fungus. Mycelium products are high in starch, and lower in medicinal beta glucans. That’s the really important medicinal ingredient that can help fight cancer and boost your dog’s immunity. Without lower beta glucans, you lose a lot of the mushroom’s healing actions.
You can also use reishi in conjunction with other mushrooms. You’ll see supplements that combine reishi mushrooms with maitake, shiitake, cordyceps or turkey tail for a powerful combination of medicinal mushrooms
To Sum It Up …
Holistic vets use mushrooms in their practice and advocate using reishi. 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.
When it comes right down to it, reishi mushrooms may not make your dog live forever. That’s a pretty big expectation for a mushroom! But they sure can do a lot of amazing things for his health!
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Patlolla, Jagan M R, et al. Triterpenoids for cancer prevention and treatment: current status and future prospects. Review Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2012 Jan;13(1):147-55.
Lin, Zhi-bin, et al. Anti-tumor and immunoregulatory activities of Ganoderma lucidum and its possible mechanisms. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2004 Nov;25(11):1387-95.
Wang, chong-Zhi, et al. Effects of ganoderma lucidum extract on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in a rat model. Am J Chin Med. 2005;33(5):807-15.
Wu, Xin, et al. Hepatoprotective effects of aqueous extract from Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher basidiomycetes) on α-amanitin-induced liver injury in mice. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(4):383-91.
Wu, Yueh-Wern, et al. Post-treatment of Ganoderma lucidum reduced liver fibrosis induced by thioacetamide in mice. Phytotherapy Research. Volume 24, Issue 4 p. 494-499.
Ma, Haou-Tzong, et al. Anti-diabetic effects of Ganoderma lucidum. Phytochemistry. 2015.02.017
He, C-Y, et al. Effect of polysaccharides from Ganoderma lucidum on streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy in mice. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2006 Dec;8(8):705-11.
Wu, Zimei, et al. ReishiMax extends the lifespan of mice: A preliminary report. The FASEB Journal. Volume 25, Issue S1 p. 601.2-601.2
Written By Joanne Keenan
Joanne is a writer on the Dogs Naturally Content Team. For 20 years, she’s been committed to maintaining a multi-dog household reared on raw meat, whole foods and good manners. She coined “chew factor” as her method to keep her first puppy pair occupied by chewing on frozen raw bones. With interests in human and canine nutrition and fitness, she is finally using her journalism background to explore interests close to her heart and her dogs.