What are Adaptogens?
As pet parents, we want to see our pets happy and stress-free, without resorting to harmful pharmaceuticals. Luckily there are some wonderful plants, mushrooms and herbs out there that can help your dog manage stress effectively and safely, known as Adaptogens! The unique properties of adaptogens make them super beneficial for our pets in helping them manage stress and immune system challenges they may face.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are defined as substances that “enhance the state of nonspecific resistance” in stress. Simply put, they are herbs that help our bodies respond and recover to both short and long-term mental and physical stress. Stress is a physiological condition linked with the neurological, endocrine, and immune system. Without proper management of stress, the body will begin to experience negative physical and mental side effects such as weight gain, generalized anxiety, immune dysfunction, and depression. Besides battling the effects of stress, some adaptogens can even help with immune system response and help promote feelings of overall well being.
How do Adaptogens Work?
Adaptogens work differently than other substances, because instead of simply boosting or suppressing function of the body’s various systems, it works on a molecular level to balance the responses produced by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. All of these glands help manage our responses to stress. When we experience stress, our bodies experience something called General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). There are 3 stages of GAS response that our bodies experience:
The first sign of stress triggers an alarm in the body that causes blood pressure and body temperature to drop, as though the body is injured. This only lasts for a short amount of time, then a counter-reaction occurs, which signals the body to release chemicals like adrenaline to help your body respond appropriately. The sympathetic nervous system is then activated to manage the fight or flight response by the body.
The Alarm Phase can only last so long, so in order to help the body deal with the stress, cortisol is released to help you continue to deal with the stressor and repair any possible damage to the body.
In a normal acute stress situation, eventually the body’s endocrine system becomes exhausted and by this period hopefully the threat has been neutralized. Your body’s resources for dealing with stress are depleted and rest must occur. However, in the case of chronic stress, this regular depletion of the endocrine system’s resources leads to weakness and damage throughout the body, causing things like ulcers, heart disease, and high blood pressure. This is what’s known as “maladaptive stress” and it’s where adaptogens come in handy.
Adaptogens for Stress in Pets
Instead of a bell curve effect of low→high→low seen during a typical stress response, when adaptogens are used, the body maintains a more stable state throughout the entire stress response period. Essentially, adaptogens help the body respond to stress by achieving homeostasis throughout the process rather than having the body go through a wave of chemical responses.
How exactly do they do this? Depending on the adaptogen being used, they “hack” the body’s response to stress. Each adaptogen uniquely protects the body from a heightened or prolonged stress response by triggering the body to release chemicals that counteract the stress response. For example, Ashwagandha, a very well-known adaptogen, works by reducing the body’s cortisol production, thus lowering the overall stress response.
By keeping the body in a state of homeostasis, adaptogens not only help individuals cope with short and long-term stress in a more manageable way, but they also help to avoid the health problems associated with chronic stress.
So let’s discuss some adaptogens, and how they each work on fighting stress and chronic disease.
Possibly one of the most well-known and powerful herbs on the planet, the benefits of turmeric for pets are wide-ranging. Due to its many bioactive compounds, this amazing root has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and pain-relieving properties. It also is used to help with wound healing, diabetes, cognition, depression, and arthritis, among many others.
Consuming turmeric on its own is hard for the body to absorb, so it’s best to take turmeric alongside a fat source or with black pepper to enhance its bioavailability. Our EASE: Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil for dogs, cats and horses, is formulated with frankincense and turmeric, to target inflammation, balance the immune system and soothe your pet’s aches and pains.
Frankincense is a resin that originates from the Boswellia tree and is only found in Africa. It supports healthy cellular function, strengthens the immune system, rejuvenates skin, balances mood, and is soothing. Frankincense is useful for many ailments, like cancer, allergies, joint pain, and asthma. Frankincense works as an adaptogen for stress by lowering levels of corticosterone, and increasing restful sleep. Frankincense and Turmeric are an important part of our Ease tincture for dogs, cats and horses, targeting inflammation and strengthening the immune system.
Lavender is a beautiful plant with purple flowers and is one of the most well-known essential oils. Lavender essential oil can be beneficial for pets, it comes from the flowers of the plant and is renowned for its calming properties. It calms anxious minds, promotes restful sleep, and reduces tension.
This is why we formulated our Calm: CBD oil for dogs with anxiety, as well as cats and horses experiencing stress and anxiety, with the added benefits of lavender essential oil. It is also great for minor skin irritations and promoting wound healing.
Also known as arctic root or golden root, this herb helps fight anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Rhodiola helps increase your body’s resistance to stress, and helps improve symptoms of burnout that occur from chronic stress. For depression, it helps balance neurotransmitters in your brain thus having antidepressant-like effects. Rhodiola can also improve brain function, in key areas like learning and memory.
Ginseng is an amazing adaptogenic root that has many unique properties. Ginseng has been used for centuries, especially in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginseng has antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties as well as benefiting cognition, stress, blood pressure, and fighting fatigue. There are several species of ginseng; depending on the origin of the ginseng, its properties and benefits can vary.
Sometimes called Peruvian Ginseng, this cruciferous vegetable native to Peru has long been used for a variety of ailments. Maca may help improve mood, energy, cognitive function, and skin health. Since maca is a food, it is a wonderful source of fiber, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Bacopa Monnieri, also known as Waterhyssop, is a century’s old herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has many brain-boosting benefits and is also a powerful antioxidant. Due to its ability to fight oxidative stress in the brain, Bacopa Monnieri is a powerful tool in combating neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Bacopa Monnieri also reduces inflammation and pain, boosts cognitive function, and reduces stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is a well-known adaptogenic herb. It has been used for thousands of years to alleviate many neurological issues. Ashwagandha may help reduce anxiety and stress by controlling cortisol and other key stress response chemicals. Due to its unique stress-relieving properties, it also helps with sleep dysfunction and mental health disorders. Studies have also shown that ashwagandha may help reduce inflammatory markers in the body like C-reactive protein. Ashwagandha is one of the most popular adaptogens for a reason, since its benefits are wide-ranging, and it is well tolerated and quite safe.
Because of the numerous benefits of ashwagandha, our founder Angela Ardolino included it in all three of her MycoDog sustainable mushroom extract tinctures for pets.
Shiitake mushrooms are a type of fungus that is found naturally growing on decaying trees. They are used around the world as supplements to help fight many ailments. Shiitake is thought to promote longevity and immunity, improve circulation, fight inflammation and even have cancer-fighting properties. Potency can vary greatly depending on the source, so make sure the mushroom supplement you’re using is from the fruiting body of the mushroom and has guaranteed beta-glucan content for maximum effectiveness.
Your pet can receive the benefits of Shiitake mushrooms in MycoDog’s Vitality Mushroom extract tincture for dogs, formulated with a proprietary water extract of Turkey Tail, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga, Artist Conk and Red Belted Conk, with Astragalus Root and Ashwagandha. MycoDog’s Vitality tincture was designed to help support dogs dealing with cancer, autoimmune disease, liver issues and respiratory issues.
Lion’s Mane is another amazing ancient mushroom with dynamic properties and is thus known as a “functional mushroom” since it has so many potential health benefits. It supports a healthy inflammatory response, fights oxidative stress, boosts brain function, and as many mushrooms do, it supports a healthy immune system response. Lion’s Mane is most notable for its brain-boosting effects by supporting memory, focus, and fighting cognitive decline.
Angela Ardolino knew the benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms, and you can share them with your pet with MycoDog’s Clarity Mushroom extract tincture for dogs, formulated with a proprietary water extract of Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Cordyceps, with Bacopa Monnieri and Ashwagandha.
Turkey Tail mushroom is one of the most well-known mushrooms due to its clinically tested cancer-fighting properties. Other than its anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties, Turkey Tail is also an amazing stress-fighting adaptogen. By interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, Turkey Tail helps stabilize cortisol levels when you are experiencing stress, helping you achieve balance quicker. Turkey Tail is high in bioactive compounds like PSK, which have been heavily studied in their immuno-supportive abilities.
MycoDog’s Vitality Mushroom extract tincture for dogs is formulated with a proprietary water extract of Turkey Tail, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga, Artist Conk and Red Belted Conk, with Astragalus Root and Ashwagandha. MycoDog’s Vitality tincture was designed to help support dogs dealing with cancer, autoimmune disease, liver issues and respiratory issues.
Reishi is another functional mushroom that is largely known for its stress-relieving effects. In traditional Chinese medicine, Reishi is known as “the mushroom of immortality” because of its all-encompassing health benefits. Reishi is one of the most popular adaptogens because it has such a wide range of benefits. Reishi is an outstanding stress reliever, helping with anxiety and sleep disturbances by its ability to activate GABA receptors in the brain. Other than its stress-relieving properties, Reishi is also an amazing source of amino acids, and also helps support the GI tract, lower urinary tract, respiratory tract, and helps maintain proper blood sugar levels.
Because of Reishi’s wide range of health benefits, Angela Ardolino included Reishi in all three of MycoDog’s mushroom extract tinctures for pets.
We can’t finish talking about adaptogens without mentioning the most amazing one: Cannabis!
Hemp which is a cannabis plant contains thousands of beneficial compounds including 114 Cannabinoids including CBD and THC. All adaptogens work to achieve homeostasis by regulating the HPA axis. A full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) is no different in that respect, but it works to achieve homeostasis by regulating the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Other adaptogens don’t have the power that a Full Spectrum Hemp extract (CBD) does to regulate this system to such a degree that all the body’s systems come into balance, not just the HPA axis. By utilizing the ECS, a wider effect can be achieved, and the damaging effects of chronic stress can be better managed.
Using a Full Spectrum Hemp extract alongside other adaptogens creates a synergy, making them more powerful and effective. The Full Spectrum Hemp extract (CBD) will activate receptors in the brain to promote mental wellbeing, while also reducing pain and inflammation, achieving the ultimate synthesis of stress relief and overall wellbeing.