The adrenal glands help to regulate critical body systems. They’re part of the endocrine system, so they play a role in managing the stress response in dogs and cats. For companion animals, stress can come from environmental factors, emotional triggers, physical activity, and trauma. Helping our dogs and cats to manage stress can help them live longer and healthier lives, so how can pet parents support the adrenal glands? With adaptogenic mushrooms, of course!
The Role of the Adrenal Glands and Pituitary Gland
The adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Together, these hormones regulate many body functions and systems, including the immune system, blood pressure, metabolism, electrolytes, and stress.
What’s more, the adrenal glands work with the pituitary gland in a partnership called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Hormones made by the pituitary gland tell the adrenal glands to produce their hormones. The relationship between these two organs regulates mineral concentrations in the blood and the production of stress and fight-flight-freeze hormones.
Diseases that Affect the Adrenal Glands
Some diseases can impact the adrenal glands in dogs, cats, and other companion animals. One of them is Cushing’s disease. This happens when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol over a long period, either because of signals from the pituitary gland or a tumor. Symptoms include:
Hair thinning or loss
Thinning or discoloration of the skin
Increased thirst, urination, and appetite
Another issue is Addison’s disease. This is when the adrenal glands don’t make enough of some hormones because of tissue damage from an autoimmune disease, infection, drugs, cancer, or inflammation. What’s more, head trauma, brain cancer, and excessive use of steroid drugs can damage the pituitary gland, triggering Addison’s.
Because the adrenal glands play a role in electrolyte regulation, Addison’s can also cause life-threatening symptoms, such as weakness, lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, slow heart rate, and bloody stools.
Adaptogens, Cordyceps, and Adrenal Health
Adaptogens are plants or mushrooms that help the adrenal glands better deal with stress. They work by regulating the HPA axis and the sympathoadrenal system, which is also involved in the fight-flight-freeze response. Adaptogens:
Are non-toxic to the recipient in normal doses
Produce a non-specific state of resistance to stress
Have a normalizing and balancing influence on the body
Cordyceps1 is a mushroom that’s considered an adaptogen. It contains components that act on the endocrine system, including sex glands and adrenal glands. As an adaptogenic mushroom, Cordyceps may help to:
Support healthy kidney function
Support healthy energy management
Increase anabolic metabolism through its modulation of healthy testosterone levels
Currently, Cordyceps is under investigation for its ability to improve horses diagnosed with equine Cushing’s disease. And while we still need studies examining the benefits of Cordyceps in dogs with Cushing’s disease and in cats with chronic kidney disease, there is evidence that they can support the adrenal glands and your dog’s or cat’s stress response.
Real Mushrooms has the highest-quality functional mushroom extracts for dogs and cats, including organic Cordyceps extract. Visit Real Mushrooms to learn more!
1Winston, D. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. (2007) Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT. 05767. ISBN: 978-1-62055-958-1
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