Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake mushrooms are terrific for supporting the immune system in a dog or cat that has cancer.
The polysaccharides (a large carbohydrate molecule) in these mushrooms have immunostimulating and antitumor activity. Mushrooms can also increase the body’s resistance to disease, enhance vitality, and improve response to everyday stress.
Shiitake mushrooms contain a polysaccharide known as lentinan. This mushroom is very popular in Japan and China and is considered an elixir of life. In Japan it is commonly used as an addition to conventional cancer treatments and studies have shown that patients receiving lentinan have longer survival times, better immune system function, and better quality of life. Some mice studies have also shown this mushroom to be useful in cancer prevention.
Maitake mushrooms contain B-glucans which have antibacterial and antitumor activity. There have have be studies that have shown improved bone marrow health which is vital in natural cancer treatment. This enhanced immune function comes about from activating macrophages which function to attack foreign material in the body including cancer cells. T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells are also enhanced and these cell types can directly destroy cancer cells. Another interesting property of this mushroom is that it can decrease the toxicity of a common chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin.
Note: Caution should taken if using this mushroom in a diabetic pet as it can increase insulin levels and decrease blood sugar levels. Use Maitake mushrooms in these patients is still beneficial but should only be used under veterinary supervision.
MediHerb (part of Standard Process) is one of my favorite companies because of there excellent quality control and research. Their product is called Ganoderma & Shiitake and is an excellent choice for mushroom therapy. This product is only available through medical professionals
Other products that I use in my practice are Vetri Science’s Maitake-DMG Liquid™ and Solgar’s Reishi Shiitake Maitake Mushroom Extract Vegetable Capsules. The Vetri Science mushroom product is great for my patients like cats that don’t tolerate taking pills because of its liquid formulation. The Solgar product utilizes both whole mushrooms and mushroom extracts.
The dosage I use depends on the type of cancer and the overall health of my patient. A typical safe starting does in any case is around 10mg per pound. Other than the potential for Maitake mushrooms to decrease blood sugar, I don’t typically see any side-effects from using mushrooms. The biggest thing to watch for are GI problems like vomiting or diarrhea.
I hope that this information may prove useful to you and your pet. Please call Marmalade & Mobile Vet at (856) 375-1314 if you’d like to schedule an appointment for your pet for alternative cancer treatment or cancer support either with or without chemotherapy.
Peace, love, and plenty of tail wags~
Jennifer Forsyth, VMD