Cordyceps – An Adaptogenic Mushroom for Your Dog or Cat’s Adrenal Glands

Cordyceps – An Adaptogenic Mushroom for Your Dog or Cat’s Adrenal Glands

Find out how an adaptogenic mushroom known as cordyceps might assist your canine or cat’s adrenal glands deal extra successfully with stress.

Handling stress is a vital perform of your canine or cat’s adrenal glands. These small, paired glands on either side of her physique, simply above the kidneys, are accountable for producing the “fight-or-flight” hormones, primarily adrenaline, when the physique perceives an existential risk. They additionally produce stress hormones, primarily corticosteroids, when the physique experiences stressors. In this text, we’ll have a look at the function of the adrenal glands, their relationship to different necessary glands within the physique, and the way an adaptogenic mushroom known as cordyceps might assist your canine or cat’s adrenals deal higher with stress.


The adrenal glands work carefully with the pituitary gland. The relationship between these “endocrine” organs is accountable for a wide range of essential hormonal capabilities, such because the regulation of mineral concentrations within the blood, and the manufacturing of stress hormones and fight-or-flight hormones. These glands additionally work carefully with the hypothalamus gland, which just like the pituitary gland, is situated on the base of the mind.

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We name the interactive relationship between all these glands the HPA Axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis). That’s a mouthful, nevertheless it describes a system that retains our canine and cats (and ourselves) going.


Another system that entails the adrenal gland is the SAS or Sympathoadrenal System. This is the fight-or-flight system that kicked in when our ancestors had been being chased by a saber-toothed tiger. In immediately’s context, this similar system would come into play if, for instance, there was an lively shooter in your neighbourhood. In your canine or cat, in the meantime, the SAS can be activated if she was being threatened by a bigger predator.


Adaptogens are vegetation or mushrooms that assist the adrenal glands deal higher with stress. They had been first described in 1946 by medical physician and pharmacologist, Dr. Nicolai V. Lazarev, who was researching natural compounds for reversing the results of acute or persistent stress. In 1968, pharmacologist Dr. Israel Brekhman supplied us with the primary definition for adaptogens:

  • They are non-toxic to the recipient in regular doses.
  • They produce a non-specific state of resistance to emphasize.
  • They have a normalizing and balancing affect.

In 1999, A.G. Panossian, PhD, and colleagues expanded the that means of adaptogens due to analysis that confirmed adaptogens work by regulating the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA) and the Sympathoadrenal System (SAS).


Various herbs are thought-about true adaptogens, resembling Asian ginseng, rhodiola, eleuthero, ashwagandha, licorice root, American ginseng, and maca root. Among medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) stands out as an adaptogen.1

Cordyceps has historically been used for vitality, endurance, anti-aging, counteracting stress, and sexual efficiency. Clinical research have demonstrated its skill to enhance athletic efficiency. Other research have measured its skill to guard the kidneys from poisonous harm brought on by medication and to assist sufferers with persistent kidney illness.2

As an adaptogen, cordyceps incorporates parts that act on the endocrine system, adrenal glands, and intercourse glands. It will increase endogenous corticosteroids however makes use of a distinct pathway than the HPA axis. This is the place cordyceps will get its designation as an adaptogen for modulating adrenal stress. It can also modulate estrogens by changing doubtlessly poisonous estrogens to the more healthy 17-b-estradiol, and might stimulate the manufacturing of testosterone. For this cause, cordyceps was historically thought-about each an aphrodisiac and a fertility support.3

Cordyceps is thought to supply many extra advantages, resembling:

  • Supporting wholesome kidney perform
  • Managing stress
  • Supporting wholesome vitality administration
  • Promoting fertility
  • Increasing anabolic metabolism by its modulation of wholesome testosterone ranges.


  • Environmental stressors embrace issues like extreme warmth or chilly.
  • Emotional stressors embrace crowding or predation, extreme ranges of bodily labor or work, or bodily trauma resembling being hit by a automobile or getting right into a battle with one other canine or cat.


The relationship between the pituitary and the adrenal glands is essential to very important capabilities that govern the life and dying of your canine or cat. The pituitary gland produces particular stimulating hormones that sign the adrenal glands to start out producing their important hormones in a wholesome manner. As small as they’re, these little endocrine organs pack a robust punch, so when one thing goes flawed with them, main issues may result.

When the adrenal glands are overstimulated by the pituitary, or once they develop a benign tumor that causes an over-production of corticosteroids, we name this Cushing’s illness. This over-production of the physique’s personal steroids by the adrenal glands, stimulated by the pituitary gland, creates the identical issues we generally see when commercially obtainable pharmaceutical steroids like prednisone are overused, with signs as follows:

  • Hair thinning or full loss
  • Dark discoloration
  • Thinning of the pores and skin
  • Corrugated look of pores and skin
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Substantially elevated urge for food

Currently, cordyceps is beneath investigation for its skill to enhance horses identified with equine Cushing’s illness. Studies detailing the advantages of this adaptogenic mushroom for Cushing’s in canine (and for persistent kidney illness in cats as properly) are badly wanted.

When the adrenal glands are under-functioning (generally known as Addison’s Disease), the physique doesn’t produce sufficient of its personal steroid hormones to keep up well being. This can happen with harm to the gland’s tissues from autoimmune illness (most typical trigger), in addition to infections secondary to sure medication which are poisonous to the adrenal glands. Other causes embrace most cancers, or extreme irritation. Due to the pituitary gland’s results on the stimulating perform of the adrenal gland, issues that impression the pituitary gland, resembling head trauma, mind most cancers, or extreme use of steroid medication, may also trigger Addison’s illness.

The adrenal glands’ function in regulating the steadiness of important electrolytes, sodium and potassium, additionally turns into disturbed, leading to severe life-threatening signs. Weakness, lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac arrythmias, excessively gradual coronary heart price, and bloody stools, are among the many signs that may happen from the physique’s lack of management over electrolytes on account of Addison’s illness

Cordyceps is only one instance of the various medicinal mushrooms that may enhance your canine or cat’s well being and well-being. Its skill to assist the adrenal glands means it might assist your animal companion’s physique cope extra effectively with any stressors she encounters.


1Winston D. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. (2007) Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT. 05767. ISBN: 978-1-62055-958-1

2Hobbs C. Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide. Cordyceps: pp 89-95 (2020) Storey Publishing; North Adams, MA 01247.

3Jedrejko KJ, Lazur J, Muszynska B. Cordyceps militaris: An Overview of Its Chemical Constituents in Relation to Biological Activity. (2021) Foods; 10,2634.

Dr. Robert J. Silver is a 1982 graduate of Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He has pioneered using weight loss program, herbs and nutraceuticals in his small animal integrative observe in Boulder, Colorado for the previous 25 years. He writes and speaks each domestically and internationally to veterinary audiences on the worth of mixing holistic modalities with typical drugs, and is a advisor to the pet meals business. He can be the Chief Medical Officer of Real Mushrooms for Pets.

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