Kratom for Pets

Biologically species Appropriate Raw and Real Food for Cats and Dogs

Toxic or Healthful?

Mitragyna Speciosa (see: Wikipedia), which is commonly called as Kratom​1​ , from the coffee family, is a tropical herb that grows predominantly in the Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Sumatra. Kratom contains a chemical called Mitragynine (see: Wikipedia)​2​ . It serves like a medicine drug such as codeine and morphine, used to relieve pain. The traditional herb is said to possess psychoactive properties due to the alkaloid compounds such Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG).

There are over 20 active chemicals​3​ in the leaves including some compounds that have analgesic and opioid-like effects. The main active ingredients are:

  • Mitragynine
  • 7-hydroxy mitragynine
  • Speciociliatine
  • Pynantheine
  • Speciogynine

Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine are the main chemicals that can produce analgesic effects​4​ like codeine, and they may also demonstrate some anti-inflammatory properties. Speciociliatine, Pynantheine, and Speciogynine also have some analgesic effects and can also influence behavior and the function of smooth muscles in animals.

There are different strains of Kratom (see: Guidance PA Website) mostly based on their originating source. Each one has some variation in the effects that people claim to experience when they use it. Of these strains, those that come from leaves with a red vein have a reputation for higher potency. In the traditional way to categorize kratom, the color refers to the vein on the leaf and indicates how mature the leaves are at the time of harvest. Red is known for having the most time to mature, while white has the shortest time, and green is in the middle.

When you do your research on the herb, you will come to realise that there is an much controversy for and against its use, as the current food vs McKibble and McCarb debate. You will realise that very little research in support of the herb exist​5​ . Sounds familiar does it not. Currently, this substance is not approved for any use by the US FDA because of “limited research and potential risks of addiction and dependence​6​ . There are many more anecdotal testimonials from pet parents claiming that the herb helps them manage anxiety, depression, pain, and stress, for themselves as well as their pets.

Is Kratom An Opioid?

Kratom is a herbal remedy with several chemical compounds. The primary ingredients listed above are alkaloid substances that, like other opioids, can link to mu-type brain receptors and produce effects like pain relief, sedation, and a sense of pleasure. The most active substances are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine.

What Does Kratom Do?

Perhaps because there is a (yet to be fully discovered and understood) combination of chemicals in Kratom, it can act in different ways. Some of the actions depend on the dose level.

  • It can provide analgesia or pain relief.
  • It can also behave as a cough suppressant in animals.
  • In low doses, it functions as a stimulant by acting on adenosine, adrenergic, and serotonin receptors in the brain.
  • In higher doses, it performs as a sedative by acting against mu, kappa, and delta-opioid receptors in the brain.

When Kratom acts on the Opiate receptors, specifically when 7-hydroxymitragynine acts on mu receptors​7​ , there is the release of endorphins, dynorphins, and enkephalins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the suppression of pain signals along the pain pathway. They also increase the pain nerve endings stimulation threshold. When signals are not generated and even when they are generated, they are suppressed; pain is not felt by the central nervous system. The release of dopamine and serotonin play an additional role in making one feel better.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Kratom?

There are many unsubstantiated or anecdotal claims as to the effects of taking Kratom. Scientific support for reported benefits in people is still limited. In animals, studies suggest that this substance could help with a number of conditions.

Anti-Anxiety Medicine

If you’ve ever dealt with a dog that goes crazy when you leave them alone, you understand that our mutts, pups, nobles and masters can suffer from anxiety just like we can. As an opioid, Kratom might be able to stimulate energy and help to calm your pet’s nerves.

Arthritis Relief

People in Southeast Asia have been using Kratom for pain relief for many years, and animal studies suggest that this herb may provide similar effects in dogs. These results could be good news for dogs suffering from arthritis pain. Some pet parents that give Kratom to their arthritic furry friends report happier, more active pups.

Chronic Pain Relief

Because the alkaloid drugs in Kratom act on the mu-type opioid receptors to create analgesia, the herb could be useful to help relieve pain. In an informal research trial, 62 out of 66 dogs that received Kratom to treat their pain showed noticeable improvements. For dogs with ongoing aches and soreness, this herb might provide comfort.

Seizure Treatment

There is conflicting information about the effectiveness of Kratom to treat seizures. On the one hand, some individuals with pets that suffer from epilepsy or other conditions that cause seizures report improvement after taking Kratom. Some experience no more seizures while others have only minor episodes. However, according to the American Psychiatric Association and other sources, there are also cases of Kratom-induced seizures in people. Some of the trigger events occurred when the patient combined this herb with other substances.

Appetite Stimulant

One reason that people native to the growth area of Kratom chew on the leaves is to increase their energy and appetite. As a stimulant, this substance will likely boost your pet’s activity level and desire to eat. Just remember, what goes up must come down. If you stop giving your pet Kratom, it can lead to a decreased appetite or anorexia.

Energy Stimulant

At low to moderate doses, Kratom acts as a mild stimulant. The chemicals react with brain receptors​8​ to stimulate alertness and energy levels.

Kratom for pets?

Huumans use Kratom in tea, take it in capsules, or as a powder. What about dogs and cats? This herb has a bitter taste, and your mutts, pups, nobles, masters and muggles is likely to spit it out unless you make it more interesting to him.

  • Sugarless peanut butter – add Kratom to some sugar-free peanut butter to mask the bitter taste. Most pups go crazy for this sandwich spread, so they’ll see it as a treat.
  • Add to treats – mix a small amount of Kratom powder with a special treat like hamburger or beef bits.
  • With fruit – puree some apples or get a little steamed pumpkin and mix the Kratom in it.
  • Mix it with beef bone broth – dogs love beef broth. The amount of kratom you need won’t affect the flavor.
  • Mix it with their dinner – If you use moist food, you can stir the powder right into their food.
  • Rub it on their gums – Some owners rub a Kratom solution on their canine pal’s gums. The surface vessels in the mucous membranes will absorb the liquid quickly. This can help when pets are in extreme pain.

Are there Dosage Guidelines?

There are no dosing guidelines for dogs or cats, so finding the right amount involves some trial and error. Start small as higher dosages can have negative side effects including:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Liver damage

Based on our research, some pro-veterinarians and owners use a Kratom calculator for human dosages to determine how much to give their pooches based on weight.

Include Probiotics in the Diet

Adding probiotics when you give Kratom to your pet can support the digestion of the alkaloid compounds.

Is Kratom Toxic To Dogs or Cats?

A review of studies​9​ on the effects of Kratom in humans and animals suggests that Kratom is minimally toxic​10​ . At very high doses, it can damage the liver and cause seizures, but current research does not show toxic effects at lower levels​11​ . Keep in mind that most pharmacologic and therapeutic evidence about kratom comes from anecdotal reports and patient experiences. More than half of the available scientific literature on kratom has been published since 2012, and there are few, if any, controlled clinical trial results that have been published.

Our Final Thoughts On Kratom For Dogs and Cats

For pet parents seeking herbal alternatives to traditional pain and anxiety medications, there’s some promising information about Kratom. A recently published review of 57 years of international scientific evidence, led by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the University of British Columbia, may help reduce misconceptions about kratom and restore its potential as a public health tool that deserves more research. People who use this substance to help their canine companions report benefits that include increased energy, less anxiety, and noticeable pain relief. However, there’s also some concerning information about this herbal supplement, and using it does not come risk-free. If you want to experiment with Kratom, talk to your veterinarian first and use extreme caution.

As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.

Articles and Videos

Research and References

  1. 1.
    Fluyau D, Revadigar N. Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:62. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00062
  2. 2.
    Jansen K, Prast C. Psychoactive properties of mitragynine (kratom). J Psychoactive Drugs. 1988;20(4):455-457. doi:10.1080/02791072.1988.10472519
  3. 3.
    Prozialeck WC, Jateen KJ, Shridhar VA. Pharmacology of Kratom: An Emerging Botanical Agent With Stimulant, Analgesic and Opioid-Like Effects . JAOA. 2012;112(2012):1. https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2094342.
  4. 4.
    Kruegel A, Uprety R, Grinnell S, et al. 7-Hydroxymitragynine Is an Active Metabolite of Mitragynine and a Key Mediator of Its Analgesic Effects. ACS Cent Sci. 2019;5(6):992-1001. doi:10.1021/acscentsci.9b00141
  5. 5.
    Veltri C, Grundmann O. Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2019;10:23-31. doi:10.2147/SAR.S164261
  6. 6.
    Prozialeck W. Update on the Pharmacology and Legal Status of Kratom. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016;116(12):802-809. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.156
  7. 7.
    Babu K, McCurdy C, Boyer E. Opioid receptors and legal highs: Salvia divinorum and Kratom. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2008;46(2):146-152. doi:10.1080/15563650701241795
  8. 8.
    Swogger MT, Walsh Z. Kratom use and mental health: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. February 2018:134-140. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.10.012
  9. 9.
    Hassan Z, Muzaimi M, Navaratnam V, et al. From Kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: physiological and behavioural effects related to use, abuse, and addiction. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37(2):138-151. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.11.012
  10. 10.
    Raffa RB, Beckett JR, Brahmbhatt VN, et al. Orally Active Opioid Compounds from a Non-Poppy Source. J Med Chem. April 2013:4840-4848. doi:10.1021/jm400143z
  11. 11.
    Sabetghadam A, Ramanathan S, Sasidharan S, Mansor S. Subchronic exposure to mitragynine, the principal alkaloid of Mitragyna speciosa, in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;146(3):815-823. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.02.008

Mushrooms for Cats and Dogs

Biologically species Appropriate Raw and Real Food for Cats and Dogs

Pixie Dust or Healthful?

There are countless studies of vitamins, minerals and “super” foods that are filled with antioxidants marketed as great immunity boosters for dogs and cats. Mushrooms are just one of these foods. If added into a dog or cats’ diet, current thinking dictate that we can increase their leukocyte count and therefore enhance their immune systems. However, not just any mushroom can do this. With over 140,000 different mushroom species, there is a large variety of mushrooms we do not ever see at our everyday grocery store. While they are still good for us and our furry friends, these are not the ones that help fight off those deadly cancer cells and other intruding microorganisms.

Mushroom (see: Wikipedia) are fungi, and an interesting member of gilled fungi family. Some species are not gilled, of course, but the collective term “mushroom” still applies. Mushrooms are more complex than simple fungi like yeast; the kingdom of fungi, also called fungus kingdom, is filled with edible, hallucinogenic, poisonous and medicinal mushrooms. Like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, mushrooms are packed full of certain and essential vitamins, minerals, and have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Minerals: potassium, selenium, sulfur, sodium, geranium, zinc, phosphorus
  • Sugars: mannitol, xylose, glucose, galactose, mannose
  • Vitamins: B complex, folic acid, pro-vitamin D
  • Protein: essential amino acids
  • Enzymes: antibacterial, proteolytic
  • Lipids: phospholipids, sterols, sterol esters, free fatty acids, mono-, di- and triglycerides
  • Polysaccharides: glycogen, beta-D-glucans, chitin
  • Essential oils: triterpenes

Many types of medicinal mushrooms are great for supporting your dog’s (or cat’s) immune system. Each mushroom has a slightly different type of Beta-glucan ​1​, an important compound that helps to give mushrooms their health supporting properties. With each different type of beta-glucan, the mushroom has a different effect on the immune system. Mushrooms have qualities for being anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-fibrotic, anti-microbial, anti-oxidative, anti-fungal (Candida albicans) anti-viral (Herpes for example).

Not all mushrooms are safe for our pets. As discussed by Dr Jean Dodds in her article titled “Medicinal Mushrooms for Pets”, the use of mushrooms to treat certain ailments is still a science that needs to be applied wisely. For a list of known toxic or poisonous mushroom, please refer to our knowledge-base. Unlike grapes and mangoes mushroom do not have seeds that are poisonous to our fur kids due to them being fungi instead of plants. However, some of the mushrooms themselves contain toxins that can harm both pets and humans.

In general, mushrooms are versatile natural plants. They serve four major functions:

  • Prevention (disease);
  • Regeneration (cells);
  • Protection (cancer, radiation);
  • Intervention (treatment)

Some mushrooms are also adaptogens, which means they help the body adapt to stress. They can be incredibly immune boosting and most of this magic occurs via the polysaccharides, which support energy and structure, and the terpene constituents, which are found in plants that affect your “high” such as marijuana.

Different mushrooms are said to help the immune system as supplementary treatment of tumors and many other conditions.

  • Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga and Turkey Tail for breast cancer ​2​.
  • Phellinus, Turkey Tail and Chaga for cervical and uterine cancer.
  • Phellinus, Maitake and Turkey Tail for stomach and Colorectal.
  • Turkey Tail , Maitake. Cordyceps for Leukemia.
  • Turkey Tail, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake and Phellinus for liver cancer ​3​.
  • Cordyceps, Reishi , Maitake and Turkey Tail for lung cancer Cordyceps for Lymphoma ​4​.
  • Shiitake and Phellinus for Melanoma;
  • Reishi Turkey Tail, Maitake and Shiitake for Prostate cancer;
  • Reishi for Sarcomas. Remember that vaccinations lead often to cancers and one of the hallmarks is the sarcoma.

Royal sun (Agaricus blazei)

Agaricus is often regarded as an immune-supporting mushroom​5​ with its high content of polysaccharides and cellular-growth supporting compounds. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications​6​ ​7​ . Polysaccharides are the essential sugars in the body that help activate the immune system and help protect the body from infection and disease. Agaricus blazei is said to help:

  • Support healthy cholesterol levels;
  • Provide blood sugar regulation;
  • Healthy digestion support;
  • Maintain cardiovascular support.

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps offer strong immune supporting properties which are essential in the diet of your pet. Research ​8​ ​9​ shows ​10​ that they are essential in boosting your dog’s health and staving off dangerous diseases. Cordyceps has been known to:

  • Provide intense immune support;
  • Support performance, endurance and vitality;
  • Support heart and respiratory function.

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

Shiitake mushrooms are flush with amino acids, enzymes and health-supporting minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. They are a great addition to maintaining your dog’s health by stimulating white blood cells and improving circulation. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications​11​ . They have also been known to:

  • Help soothe inflammation;
  • Normalizes allergy symptoms;
  • Provide cardiovascular health support.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake is a powerful mushroom used to support regular blood pressure and immunity. With rich roots in Japanese culture, Maitake has a wide range of health supporting benefits. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications​12​ ​13​. Maitake helps:

  • Support weight control;
  • Healthy digestion support;
  • Provide blood sugar regulation.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi mushrooms have been proven to be able to slow the growth of tumors and kill off malignant cells in the process. Reishi mushroom is so popular that is well know by several names! A popular for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Reishi contains beta glucans, or complex sugars known to modulate the immune system ​14​. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications ​15​ ​16​ .

  • Intense immune system support;
  • Regulate blood pressure and sugar levels;
  • Support main organs like the kidney and liver.

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey Tail mushrooms, otherwise known as Coriolus Versicolor​17​ , are commonly being used as a dog immunity supplement and is a fantastic and immunity boost for dogs. It has multiple shades of brown and fanned out much like that of an actual turkey’s tail, and can be found growing on trees and dead tree stumps. Turkey Tail is considered the best over-all mushroom for cancer prevention and treatment​18​ due to the research that has been done connecting it with cancer and chemotherapy support. Turkey Tail is known for being rich in polysaccharides, which have been shown to support immune function. As a powerful immune modulator, this mushroom is useful for health conditions in dogs where the immune system is compromised. Turkey Tail mushroom can:

  • Promote immune health;
  • Modulate normal cell growth;
  • Sooth irritation in the urinary and digestive tract.

Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus)

Chaga are another species of mushrooms that have been more commonly powdered for immunity supplements for dogs, and is also being studied for a variety of applications​19​ ​20​.

  • Scores among highest food Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity – meaning its scientifically one of the 5 best antioxidants on earth;
  • Immunity boost for dogs – directly aids in helping your dog fight diseases;
  • Anti-Cancer – anti tumor ability, strong antioxidant qualities, tumor reduction;
  • Anti-Viral and Anti-Inflammatory;
  • Boosts Endurance in your dog –the health benefits extend past the immune system and helps keep your dog full of energy and strong.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus)

Lion’s Mane is a potent mushroom made with 20 percent protein and is known as a delicacy when prepared in meals​21​ . Just like its name this mushroom has an appearance similar to a lion’s mane. A lion itself is symbolized as strength, which is why this mushroom is so powerful with all of its anti-cancer effects, and is also being studied for a variety of applications​22​ ​23​.

  • Helps Brain, Eye, and Circulation in dogs;
  • Slow tumor growth – and reduces blood flow to tumors allowing them to continue to reduce over time;
  • Anti-Inflammatory – Especially in digestive inflammation and other digestive complaints in your dog;
  • Benefits blood sugar – it is also used to help treat diabetes.

Black Hoof (Phellinus linteus)

Phellinus linteus (Japanese “meshimakobu”, Chinese “song gen”, Korean “sanghwang”, English “Meshima”, American English “black hoof mushroom”) or the thousand year mushroom as it is known in Asia is very much directed as a medicinal and against cancer​24​ , cervical / uterine, colorectal, stomach liver and skin (melanoma) cancers but also implanted tumors or sarcomas in research with mice ​25​.

  • Boosts Immune System;
  • Anti-Inflammatory;
  • Anti-Cancer;
  • Anti-Bacterial;
  • Protects the GI Tract.

How to Use Medicinal Mushrooms With You Pets?

You should never give uncooked mushrooms to either dogs or cats. They lack the ability to digest them and, in some cases, they can be toxic. Cats don’t particularly like the taste of mushrooms so it’s important that your mushrooms are cooked for both you and your pet as cooking them increases the availability of the nutrients for use by the organs such as the colon and liver. Alternatively, make use of one of the tinctures we offer.

As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.

One of the best ways to get medicinal mushrooms into your pet’s diet is through a properly formulated natural powder or tincture. If you don’t have that available then try to include them as cooked, when feeding, or give them as a tea. You could also try using dried tinctures if you can get them.

Bear in mind that any form of natural treatment will take time for you to see the physical benefits in your pet. Medicinal mushrooms are working with the body to allow natural restoration and healing and will generally start working from day one within the organs themselves.

Books and Articles

  • Field Guide to Mushrooms & Other Fungi of South Africa by Gary Goldman and Marieka Gryzenhout (Amazon)

Videos

Paul Stamets, speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, is considered an intellectual and industry leader in fungi habitat, medicinal use, and production. He lectures extensively to deepen your understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep you take on this path of life.

Paul Stamets

Health Benefits of Cordyceps

Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms

Health Benefits Of Reishi Mushroom

Health Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Paul Stamets – Mushrooms, Mycology of Consciousness

Research and References

  1. 1.
    Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17895634.
  2. 2.
    Kidd P. The use of mushroom glucans and proteoglycans in cancer treatment. Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(1):4-27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10696116.
  3. 3.
    Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Can maitake MD-fraction aid cancer patients? Altern Med Rev. 2002;7(3):236-239. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12126464.
  4. 4.
    Liu W, Wang S, Tsai M, et al. Protection against radiation-induced bone marrow and intestinal injuries by Cordyceps sinensis, a Chinese herbal medicine. Radiat Res. 2006;166(6):900-907. doi:10.1667/RR0670.1
  5. 5.
    Firenzuoli F, Gori L, Lombardo G. The Medicinal Mushroom Agaricus blazei Murrill: Review of Literature and Pharmaco-Toxicological Problems. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(1):3-15. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem007
  6. 6.
    Ohno S, Sumiyoshi Y, Hashine K, Shirato A, Kyo S, Inoue M. Phase I Clinical Study of the Dietary Supplement, Agaricus blazei Murill, in Cancer Patients in Remission. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:192381. doi:10.1155/2011/192381
  7. 7.
    Tangen J, Tierens A, Caers J, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of the Agaricus blazei Murrill-based mushroom extract AndoSan in patients with multiple myeloma undergoing high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation: a randomized, double blinded clinical study. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:718539. doi:10.1155/2015/718539
  8. 8.
    Panda A, Swain K. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011;2(1):9-13. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.78183
  9. 9.
    Tuli H, Sandhu S, Sharma A. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. 3 Biotech. 2014;4(1):1-12. doi:10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
  10. 10.
    Lin B, Li S. Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug. In: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011:200. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/.
  11. 11.
    Dai X, Stanilka JM, Rowe CA, et al. ConsumingLentinula edodes(Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. April 2015:478-487. doi:10.1080/07315724.2014.950391
  12. 12.
    Deng G, Lin H, Seidman A, et al. A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: immunological effects. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2009;135(9):1215-1221. doi:10.1007/s00432-009-0562-z
  13. 13.
    Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014;2(2):14. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2014.01.05
  14. 14.
    Batra P, Sharma A, Khajuria R. Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(2):127-143. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.20
  15. 15.
    Wang J, Cao B, Zhao H, Feng J. Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging. Aging Dis. 2017;8(6):691-707. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0410
  16. 16.
    Zeng P, Guo Z, Zeng X, et al. Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China. J Cell Mol Med. 2018;22(7):3278-3297. doi:10.1111/jcmm.13613
  17. 17.
    Saleh M, Rashedi I, Keating A. Immunomodulatory Properties of Coriolus versicolor: The Role of Polysaccharopeptide. Front Immunol. 2017;8:1087. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.01087
  18. 18.
    Standish L, Wenner C, Sweet E, et al. Trametes versicolor mushroom immune therapy in breast cancer. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2008;6(3):122-128. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19087769.
  19. 19.
    Géry A, Dubreule C, André V, et al. Chaga ( Inonotus obliquus), a Future Potential Medicinal Fungus in Oncology? A Chemical Study and a Comparison of the Cytotoxicity Against Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells (A549) and Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (BEAS-2B). Integr Cancer Ther. 2018;17(3):832-843. doi:10.1177/1534735418757912
  20. 20.
    Zhong X, Ren K, Lu S, Yang S, Sun D. Progress of research on Inonotus obliquus. Chin J Integr Med. April 2009:156-160. doi:10.1007/s11655-009-0156-2
  21. 21.
    Brandalise F, Cesaroni V, Gregori A, et al. Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:3864340. doi:10.1155/2017/3864340
  22. 22.
    Li I, Lee L, Tzeng T, et al. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behav Neurol. 2018;2018:5802634. doi:10.1155/2018/5802634
  23. 23.
    Lai P-L, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushr. 2013:539-554. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
  24. 24.
    Sliva D. Medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus as an alternative cancer therapy. Exp Ther Med. 2010;1(3):407-411. doi:10.3892/etm_00000063
  25. 25.
    Chen W, Tan H, Liu Q, et al. A Review: The Bioactivities and Pharmacological Applications of Phellinus linteus. Molecules. 2019;24(10). doi:10.3390/molecules24101888

Cannabis and Animals? Yes, but with care!

Biologically species Appropriate Raw and Real Food for Cats and Dogs

Cannabis for Pets

Republished with permission from Sensi Seeds. Original article by Olivier, published 15/02/2018.

Medicinal cannabis for pets? It may sound a bit strange initially, but when you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Dogs, for example, have more cannabinoid receptors than any other animals. This presents both opportunities and risks. Here is our report on our investigation into the world of “pot for pets”.

Let us start by saying that feeding your pet intoxicating substances like cannabis, which contains THC, filming it and then publishing it on YouTube is not a joke, it is cruelty to animals! Unlike people, animals can die from an overdose. Unfortunately there is a sad correlation between the number of cannabis poisoning incidents and its legal status.

Colorado and Oregon, for example, are recording more emergencies now than before legalisation. Heidi Houchen, a vet in a suburb of Portland, told the Denver Post that care needs to be taken, especially with dogs and cannabis edibles. “In the past, dogs might have nibbled a few buds in the cellar, now they find a big bag of gummy bears.”

It gets more dangerous if caffeine and chocolate are also involved. Even though it may seem obvious, let’s spell it out clearly once more: cannabis needs to be stored out of reach of domestic animals.

Why CBD could also help animals

In common with humans, other mammals also produce a series of chemical compounds described as endocannabinoids. Because these compounds influence the sensation of pain, appetite and reactions to stress, they are essential for good health.

Source: Sensi Seeds

More research is needed, but those involved have their hands tied

Dogs have many more CB1 cannabinoid receptors than any other animals. This makes treating them with cannabis a very interesting proposition. Unfortunately, there are still very few veterinary medical studies in this field.

What we know so far sounds positive. For example, back in 1988 Israeli scientists discovered that CBD displays anti-epileptic and anti-convulsive properties. In 2012, an Italian study at the University of Pisa demonstrated that cannabinoids protect dogs from allergies and skin problems.

Recently, the US drug agency, the DEA, warned vets and institutions against treating animals using cannabis. Even CBD extracts without any THC continue to be banned at national level. The University of Pennsylvania discontinued its clinical trials for fear of legal action.

Michael DiGregorio, the director of the clinical university hospital, explains the current complicated situation: “The ambiguity in this process has really brought us to a complete halt. The research is necessary, because there are many CBD products.” In addition, he criticised the fact that for the approval of a study, data are needed that will not be available until the study is complete.

Luckily not everyone is scared off by the DEA threats. Colorado State University is continuing its research activities regardless. As part of current research, they are exploring whether and how dogs with arthritis and epilepsy react to CBD oil.

Animal owners are not waiting for scientific proof

You don’t need to look far to find real-life stories of animal owners who dose their four-legged pets with medicinal cannabis. The scope of possible applications seems to be just as wide as for humans.

Digestive problems, skin problems, epilepsy, arthritis, separation anxiety, phobias, loss of appetite – CBD could be a powerful weapon in the fight against these ailments. It has no side effects, either. Christine from Nevada recounts the story of her Rottweiler, Sampson, on the dog website Dogster.

He died in November 2012 from a rare form of leukaemia. In 2010, between heavy bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea, he was losing two pounds a day. Unable to afford chemotherapy, she watched helplessly as her best friend lost one quarter of his bodyweight.

Inspired by reports of medicinal cannabis helping human cancer patients, Christine started experimenting. After giving Sampson finely ground cannabis flower-bud material mixed with coconut oil, he started eating again and was leaping around like a young dog. “Cannabis saved my dog’s life.”

Although Christine’s story is about a dog, according to US vet Doug Kramer cannabis also works well with cats. “We’re using it on cats as much, if not more, as an appetite stimulant. Cats are finicky, especially when they’re really sick,” explains Kramer in an interview with Vice. “Any animal that has cannabinoid receptors would respond the same way we do. There are studies out there that show that pigs, chickens, monkeys and rats all have those same receptors.”

VetGuru Doug Kramer (source: Enlightened Veterinary Therapeutics)

Doug Kramer had a practice in Los Angeles. He was a well-known advocate of alternative treatments generally, and medicinal cannabis in particular. This led to him becoming known as the Vet Guru. On the website of the same name, Kramer reported on his alternative treatment methods for domestic animals.

One of his clients first brought the healing effect on animals to his attention. “She was a bit eccentric, but she was a very intelligent woman. She had a pet that was not responding well to any of the pain medications or the steroids that we were giving it, and she wanted to talk about getting medical marijuana. The other vets at the practice were pretty dismissive, but she saw that I was willing to listen.”

With his actions, Kramer was breaking the law and risking a jail sentence. We admire his courage, his openness and his readiness to fight for a cause. We learned with sadness of his death.

Medicinal cannabis for animals

Even if CBD and other constituents of cannabis are not magic cure-alls, the many positive first-hand reports are encouraging. Anyone who wants to treat their animal with cannabis should first of all find out all they can about it and talk to a vet who is willing to listen. Start any treatment gradually, so always begin with a low dose and observe how the animal reacts.

Basically, you can mix CBD oil into your pet’s food, or put drops straight into its mouth. In the meantime, there are CBD products on the market in the USA which are adapted specifically for use with animals. The VETCBD tincture, for example, is easy to dose, and it also contains tiny amounts of THC and terpene from cannabis plants, as well as CBD.

Dr Tim Shu, founder and CEO of VETCBD, explains when asked that cannabinoids work better in combination than in isolation. In fact there are many indications that the entourage effect that he is referring to improves the efficacy of medicinal cannabis.

Sensi Seeds is delighted that medicinal cannabis also appears to help animals, and will be closely following developments in this area. As well as more research, further educational work is also needed. Only then will evidence-based and experienced-based discussions become possible. “In five to ten years we will be discussing the endocannabinoid system with our GP,” says Dr Shu. It remains to be hoped that by then our beloved four-legged friends will have access to as many therapeutic options as we do.

The Endocannabinoid System …

Biologically species Appropriate Raw and Real Food for Cats and Dogs

What is the endocannabinoid system and how does it work? A beginner’s guide

Republished with permission from Sensi Seeds. Original article by Scarlet Palmer, published 27/08/2018.

Simply put, the endocannabinoid system is an essential biological network similar to the central nervous system, in that it is vital to the healthy functioning of bodies and it is not restricted to one organ or body part. Amazingly, it was discovered thanks to cannabis use and users, so don’t believe anyone saying we never contribute anything to society!

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid system is, scientifically speaking, made up of neurons, endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. This article is going to break this statement down into simpler terms, as this is fascinating stuff, but requires some explanation for pretty much everyone who hasn’t studied neuroscience (this includes the writer!).

There are nerve cells called neurons throughout the brain and body which are linked together by neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are molecules called agonists that move from one neuron to another through the minute space between them, which is called the synapse.

The agonists plug into neural receptors, causing a chain reaction. In the case of the endocannabinoid system, these receptors are called CB1 (Cannabinoid receptor 1) and CB2 (Cannabinoid receptor 2).

CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain, with some in the liver, lungs, and kidneys. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body. There are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than any other type of neural receptor.

A common analogy is that the agonists are keys and the receptors are locks. However, you can also think of the neurons as being like Lego blocks, with the studs* as agonists and the tubes* as receptors.  The endocannabinoid system is a structure. It can only work if the blocks fit together. And as you’ll see, it’s essential that it does work!

Endocannabinoid system sends signals within the brain and around the body

Cannabinoids transmit signals from one neuron to another

CB1 = cannabinoid receptor 1. Location: Mostly brain

CB2 = cannabinoid receptor 2. Location: Body

How does the endocannabinoid system work?

The endocannabinoid system is activated by (surprise, surprise) cannabinoids. The cannabinoids naturally produced by the body, which are known as endocannabinoids; and the cannabinoids found in cannabis, which are known as phytocannabinoids.

The key and lock analogy mentioned above is based upon the CB1 and CB2 receptors only being activated by cannabinoids, not any other type of agonist molecule. The cannabinoid ‘keys’ are the only ones that will fit the receptor ‘locks’.

Phyto = prefix meaning a plant or plants

Endo = prefix meaning within or inside

Phytocannabinoids, also called classic cannabinoids, come from plants

Endocannabinoids come from inside the body

The CB1 receptors are activated by THC (tetrahydrocannabinoid) – so when we talk about the ‘headrush’ effect caused by sativa-dominant, THC-heavy strains, there’s a literal quality to that statement!

The CB2 receptors are activated by CBD (cannabidiol), which is not psychoactive and more associated with cannabis strains (and pure CBD products) that give a relaxing, body-centric effect. This makes the location of, and difference between, the two receptors easy to remember!

CB1 = THC = head

CB2 = CBD = body

What is the endocannabinoid system for?

The endocannabinoid system regulates the body’s systems to maintain homeostasis: the state of balance necessary for healthy function. Homeostasis can be thought of as the narrow range of states within which bodies work as they should.

For example, the blood sugar levels, internal temperature, pH levels of blood, regulation of the amount of water and minerals in the body, and the removal of metabolic waste, are all governed by homeostatic processes.

A simple analogy is to think of the body as a house, and the endocannabinoid system as the caretaker inside.

If the house is too hot, the caretaker opens the windows or turns on the air conditioning. If the house is too cold, the caretaker closes the windows and turns on the heating. If the house becomes dirty, the caretaker cleans it, but also knows when to stop cleaning it – you wouldn’t throw away all the rubbish and then start on the furniture.

Body = house

Endocannabinoid system = caretaker

Cannabinoids = messages the caretaker receives about what needs to be done

Most agonists only travel in one direction. Cannabinoids are unusual in that they can travel both ways between neurons. This is known as a negative feedback loop. It is what makes the ECS such an essential system for lifeforms. It tells the body when to begin a process (for example, sweating to cool down) but also when to stop it (otherwise we’d all be sweating constantly).

Bodies constantly make their own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) to interact with their endocannabinoid system, ensuring that homeostasis continues.

If not enough endocannabinoids are created, it is thought that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency may occur. It is also thought that this can be treated by introducing phytocannabinoids, something that humanity has been doing with varying degrees of therapeutic success since before recorded history.

The reason cannabis can treat so many different conditions is that the endocannabinoid system is spread throughout the body and responsible for the correct functioning of so many different parts and aspects of it.

Are humans the only ones with endocannabinoid systems?

Absolutely not! The reason this article refers to ‘the body’ rather than ‘the human body’ is that more creatures on this planet have an ECS than not.

All vertebrates (creatures with a backbone) and invertebrates (creatures without a backbone) have one. This explains why CBD products are having such success when used on pets, and have the potential to treat a virtually unlimited number of species.

There are a few species that don’t have one, such as sea sponges, nematode worms and anemones, since their evolution diverged from ours so long ago. The earliest lifeform known to have cannabinoid receptors is the sea-squirt.

This primitive tube-shaped creature evolved more than 600 million years ago, and vomits up its internal organs as a self-defence move (rather like very drunk people avoiding pub brawls). There is even a type of slime mould that “possesses a rudimentary endocannabinoid system”.

When was the endocannabinoid system discovered?

You might think that, since the ECS is so ancient, so vital, and so common in lifeforms, it would have been discovered long ago. You would be wrong. The endocannabinoid system was only confirmed in the form that we know it today (CB1 and CB2 receptors, triggered by two known endocannabinoids) in 1995 (raise your hand if you’re older than this crucial discovery!).

1940 – CBD first isolated

1963 – CBD first synthesised

1964 – THC first synthesised

1988 – CB1 identified (in rats)

1991 – CB1 in humans successfully cloned

1992 – Anandamide, the first endocannabinoid, discovered in human brain

1993 – CB2 identified in humans and successfully cloned

1995 – 2-AG, the second endocannabinoid, discovered

The phytocannabinoid CBD was first isolated in 1940, but not until 1963 did Professor Mechoulam and his team discover its chemical structure and successfully synthesize it. Their feat was replicated with THC a year later.

In 1988, the first cannabis receptor was identified; in 1993, the second. The first endocannabinoid, named anandamide, was only discovered in 1992 and the second, known as 2-AG (because only a handful of highly skilled individuals can easily pronounce 2-arachidonoylglycerol) followed in 1995.

How was the endocannabinoid system discovered?

The only reason that we now know about this incredible system is that prior to the late 1980s, research funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse was taking place which was supposed to discredit cannabis users.

The potential to treat hundreds of afflictions has been unlocked because for thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the altered states produced by cannabis and refused to give them up just because its legal status was changed.

However, this does not mean humans are ‘meant’ to use cannabis (despite what Bill Hicks said). It would be wrong to say “this proves we were designed to use cannabis” unless your belief system incorporates beings who 1. designed humans, 2. have some kind of master plan which involves us using cannabis, and 3. have either given up on making sure we’re all able to do this without fear of imprisonment, or are somehow capable of being thwarted by us not sticking to their plan.

What it does prove is that nature is amazing, humans are not as different to other lifeforms as previously believed, cannabis has more medicinal potential than any other plant on Earth, and now we know why

In fact, the last word should go to Professor Mechoulam, who sums up this point with simple eloquence:

“By using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered a new physiological system of immense importance… We wouldn’t have been able to get there if we had not looked at the plant.”

Did you learn something new from this article? Is there an angle on the endocannabinoid system that was not covered, and that you still have questions about? Are you a researcher with a contribution or correction on any of the points? Let us know in the comments!

*these are the official names for the parts of Lego pieces. I checked.

Synbiotics and Your Pet’s Happiness ..

Pre- Pro- and SynBiotics for your Mutts Pups Nobles and Masters

Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics

Picture Credit: (C) Nutricia Research

You may already know that kefir, yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha are all packed with gut-healthy probiotics, while foods like green bananas, asparagus, and artichokes contain prebiotics for huumans! And for our fur kids, magical green tripe! In case your forgot what the differences are between prebiotics and probiotics, here’s a quick refresher: Probiotics are microorganisms that add good-for-you microbes to your gut and can help aid digestion. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed that good bacteria in your gut.

But what about synbiotics? Synbiotics and other functional foods are now being considered important tools to help maintaining huumans and pets in good health, for prevention of disease, and / or as alternatives for reducing the risk associated with diseases. Studies conducted on the relationship of the microbiota of huuman gut and fur kids gut and immunology have highlighted the role of synbiotics in the health of mammals. There is evidence to suggest that synbiotics influence the microbial ecology of the intestines of huumans and pets and play a role in alleviating various ailments. The majority of studies dealing with synbiotics are conducted in huumans ​1​, but increasing research has been focused on animals​2​ . Improvement in the number of beneficial bacteria and the reduction of the potential pathogen load has been demonstrated following administration of synbiotics in farm animals. Despite the fact that the understanding of the effects of synbiotics has increased, important information relating to their impact on the host is so far incomplete. Potential combinations of most appropriate probiotics and prebiotics may reduce the risk associated with intestinal diseases and eliminate specific microbial disorders.

(Source: Todays Veterinary Nurse, Photo shutterstock.com/Alexander_P.)

In simple terms, the idea behind synbiotics is that adding prebiotics to a probiotic supplement can help ensure that the digestion-friendly microorganisms arrive in the gut alive and well. These supplements are said to be particularly useful for huumans and pets with conditions like IBS, other bowel disorders, and diabetes. Synbiotics may deliver a greater impact than if you were to take prebiotics and probiotics separately. The health benefits imparted by probiotics and prebiotics as well as synbiotics have been the subject of extensive research in the past few decades, and topic of hot debate. What is the real role of probiotics strains, prebiotics and synbiotics in influencing a health? To battle the increase in health care costs, in recent years has been developed a preventive approach to medicine with the development of new probiotics and prebiotics or symbiotic products. Many studies suggest that probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics supplementation may be beneficial in prevention and management of nutritional and health. While these studies show promising beneficial effects, the long-term risks or health benefits of prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics supplementation are not clear.

Nicoleta-Maricica Maftei published an in-depth paper on this topic reviewing the literature regarding available information and summarises the current knowledge on the effects of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics on human health and explore recent trends and developments in this field that is worth reading ​3​.

Not unlike probiotics, the key to synbiotics lies in the types of strains used and the dosages. It’s essential that both the probiotic and prebiotic microbial strains get along with each other and can function synergistically. Some of the most common synbiotic combinations include the probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Saccharomyces boulardii with prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), inulins and resistant starch for huumans.

Scientific studies have shown that specific synbiotic formulations can improve the symptoms of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other problems affecting the gastrointestinal tract​4​ . We can safely assume that this will also be the case for our fur kids.

In summary:

  • Probiotics and prebiotics benefit your body by keeping your immune system in working order, keeping your moods level, and keep the lining of your gut sealed tight.
  • When your gut bacteria misbehave, it makes you tired, inflamed, and weak.
  • Probiotics are the organisms in your digestive tract that benefit you.
  • Prebiotics feed those organisms so they can flourish and take the place of harmful strains.
  • Synbiotics combine probiotics and prebiotics to magnify the beneficial effects of friendly microorganisms and help them thrive, so they can in turn make nutrients and protective compounds that help you thrive.

Why is this important for longevity?

You have close to 100 trillion cells living in your digestive system, which form your gut microbiome. Our (huumans, mutts, pups, nobles and masters) digestive tract houses a diverse variety of bacteria, yeasts and viruses that benefit you when in balance, or cause inflammation and disease when a few strains are allowed to take over (like a typical yeast infection).

To keep you running on all cylinders, your gut microbiome has to have the right bacteria and fungi in the right amounts. The right microorganisms keep your immune system in working order and keep the lining of your gut sealed tight.

The wrong ones weaken your immune system and damage your membranes, which can lead to autoimmune reactions to undigested foods. Since a large portion of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut, these imbalances can also affect your mood and personality.

When your gut bacteria misbehave, it makes you tired, inflamed, and weak. In fact, an imbalanced gut is linked to conditions as diverse as diabetes, obesity, depression, eczema, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Ok, so what now?

Simple. For your mutts, pups, nobles and masters, ensure that your mix up your meal plan to include both pre- and probiotic food and supplements. If you do not want to food tripe, make sure you add some kefir or liquid probiotics to the meal, and vice versa. It is all about ensuring that the pre- and probiotic items works together to help manage or fix the gut, instead of relying on them to do this individually. Snap! It’s like having fermented veggies with your freshly prepared asparagus!

Articles and Videos

  • Synbiotics: Safety and Toxicity Considerations, Chapter 57, Nutraceuticals Efficacy, Safety and Toxicity (ScienceDirect);
  • Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Ulcerative Colitis, Chapter 37, The Microbiota in Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology (ScienceDirect);
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Chapter 50, Integrative Medicine (Fourth Edition) (ScienceDirect);
  • The Role of Prebiotics in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Chapter 12, Dietary Interventions in Gastrointestinal Diseases (ScienceDirect);
  • Allergic and Immunologic Disorders, Chapter 32, The Microbiota in Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology (ScienceDirect);
  • Immunoassay Applications in Veterinary Diagnostics, Chapter 8.1, The Immunoassay Handbook (Fourth Edition) (ScienceDirect);
  • Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics. What Are They and When Should They Be Implemented? (WSAVA Congress Proceeding);

Pet’s Probiotics and Intestinal Health

The Overuse of Antibiotics in Veterinary Applications

Dr. Becker Interviews Roxanne Stone About Fermented Foods for Dogs

References and Research

  1. 1.
    Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(9). doi:10.3390/nu9091021
  2. 2.
    Pinna C, Biagi G. The Utilisation of Prebiotics and Synbiotics in Dogs. Italian Journal of Animal Science. January 2014:3107. doi:10.4081/ijas.2014.3107
  3. 3.
    Maftei N-M. Probiotic, Prebiotic and Synbiotic Products in Human Health. In: Frontiers and New Trends in the Science of Fermented Food and Beverages. IntechOpen; 2019. doi:10.5772/intechopen.81553
  4. 4.
    Vyas U, Ranganathan N. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: gut and beyond. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2012;2012:872716. doi:10.1155/2012/872716