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Treat diseases of the musculoskeletal system in animals with vital mushrooms

January 31, 2021
Petra Remsing – veterinary practitioner

Natural therapy of osteochondrosis, arthrosis, herniated disc, cauda equina compression syndrome, spondylosis, biceps tendonitis, patellar luxations, rheumatoid arthritis and polyarthritis: In the diseases of the musculoskeletal system, we distinguish, on the one hand, between diseases that develop in the growth phase, those that occur in adult animals – that is, in any age phase – and the degenerative joint diseases that occur with increasing age, that is, in our seniors.

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Diseases that develop during the growth phase include osteochrondrosis, or OC for short. Osteochondrosis dissecans, or OCD, occurs predominantly in the shoulder joint and less commonly in the elbow, ankle, or knee joints.

In osteochrondrosis, thickened areas of cartilage cells form around the joint cartilage. These are less well nourished due to increasing cartilage thickness and are therefore mechanically less resilient. They can degenerate or even die. Under stress, cracks can form or cartilage flakes can break out.

These then lie free in the joint and form so-called joint mice. Increased cartilage formation can also occur in the area of the growth plates; this leads to uneven growth in the epiphyseal joints in this area.

Osteochondroses of the elbow are grouped under the term elbow joint dysplasias. Another common joint development disorder is hip dysplasia. Diseases that occur in adult animals, or animals of all ages, include, for example, diseases of the tendons, here especially the biceps tendonitis, patellar luxations, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis also called polyarthritis and others.

The degenerative diseases develop with age – so are found in our animal seniors. The most common degenerative conditions are osteoarthritis, herniated discs, spondylosis, and cauda equina compression syndrome.

Osteoarthritis - persistent wear and tear of the joints

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease. Causes include trauma, unhealed arthritis, but also incorrect and excessive stress. Inflammation of the joint mucosa (synovium) occurs, which impairs the nutrition of the articular cartilage.

As a result, damage occurs to the cartilage and the joint surfaces are destroyed. As a result, there is progressive remodeling of the joints with bone bulge formation at the joint margin. Symptoms include lameness and movement restrictions of varying severity.

Diseases of the spine

Among the most common diseases of the spine in dogs are spondylosis and herniated disc. Spondylosis is a bridging formation of bone substance (exostoses) with degenerative processes in the intervertebral discs (discus). These occur primarily in the cervical and lumbar spine. Causes include trauma, inflammation, and mesenchymal damage (damage to embryonic connective tissue).

In the case of a herniated disc, there is either a prolapse of the hardened intervertebral disc (discus) into the spinal canal or an escape of the nucleus mass (core mass) into the spinal canal. This is associated with compression (bruising) of the spinal cord with paralysis and/or pain. Often, as a result of diseases of the large joints, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or osteochondrosis, there is increased muscle atrophy (muscle atrophy).

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Herniated disc - discopathy

The spine connects the forehand and hindquarters. As a result, it must of course be very strong load-bearing. The individual vertebrae are separated from each other by intervertebral discs. An exception is the space between the 1. and 2nd cervical vertebra, that is, between the atlas and axis, and the sacrum. The intervertebral discs are missing in these areas.

The intervertebral discs serve as a buffer and ensure the mobility of the spine. They have a soft gelatinous core surrounded by a ring of fibrocartilage. Pathological changes of the intervertebral discs are summarized under the term discopathy.

Due to degeneration, but in rare cases also due to an injury, tears in the fibrocartilage lead to prolapse of the gelatinous core. According to Hansen’s classification, two types of disc degeneration are distinguished in dogs:

  • Once the type 1 – here the dehydration and loss of elasticity of the gelatinous core begins in the first years of life. This mainly affects small breeds such as Dachshunds, Pekinese, Spaniels and Poodles aged 4-6 years. Here, the fibrous ring around the gelatinous core ruptures and the material empties against the spinal cord and spinal meninges. The spinal cord and spinal meninges are thus compressed. The whole thing is called a discus rupture or extrusion.
  • In type 2, aging results in conversion of the gelatinous core to fibrous tissue. This can occur in all breeds, especially between the ages of 6 and 10. Here, however, clinical complaints occur much less frequently. Gelatinous core fragments penetrate the weakened fibrous ring. This then bulges forward into the spinal canal. The whole thing is then called a disc hernia or protrusion.

Herniated discs between the 7th lumbar vertebra and the sacrum lead to cauda equina compression syndrome. The diagnosis of herniated discs is made once by a neurological finding and, of course, by an X-ray. Treatment is either conservative therapy or surgery, depending on the severity.

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Cauda equina compression syndrome

Cauda equina compression syndrome is also called stenosis or instability of the lumbosacral canal. The cauda equina is also called the horse’s tail. It begins approximately from the 2nd lumbar vertebra. The spinal cord also ends in this area. From the lower end of the spinal cord, the spinal nerves run downward backward like a horse’s tail and that is where the cauda equina gets its name.

Neurological deficits occur when the cauda equina is crushed. If compression of the blood vessels also results in reduced blood flow, i.e., ischemia, then this can further worsen nerve damage. The cause may be narrowing of the sacral spinal canal due to, for example, exotoses, i.e. bony growths.

But injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, or type 2 disc herniations, are also possible triggers. Tumors can also lead to cauda equina compression syndrome, plus instability between L7 and S1, which is the area of the lumbrosacral joint. As with spondylosis, large breed dogs are predominantly affected, especially German shepherds.

The symptoms depend on the severity of the disease, can be very different and can occur in various combinations. These can be, for one:

  • Pain sensitivity in the lumbosacral region,
  • Pain when standing up, when climbing stairs,
  • Abnormal sensations in the area of the anus and the tail, which can lead to self-mutilation, for example, of the tail.

The nerve damage also causes paralysis and movement disorders. In advanced cases, urinary disorders and urinary and fecal incontinence may also occur. Symptoms often develop over months and may also occur in various combinations.

The diagnosis is difficult and is made on the one hand by X-rays, since by stress radiographs, by MRI or CT and by myelography. Depending on the severity of the disease, surgery is unavoidable, in some cases neural therapy is performed and, of course, the administration of painkillers as needed.

Spondylosis - also called spondylosis deformans

Spondylosis is also one of the degenerative spinal diseases. In this case, exotoses, i.e. bony growths on the vertebral body, form. These are usually found on the abdominal side or on the side of the vertebral body, rarely in the direction of the spinal cord. Spondylotic growths in the abdominal region rarely cause symptoms. Here, often only a stiffness of the animal is noticed.

However, if these growths find their way to the spinal cord or the area facing the side and spinal cord, neurological problems and pain will result. The exotoses can completely bridge the intervertebral gap laterally and abdominally and form so-called bone spans. If the vertebral bodies are about to grow together, trauma can lead to inflammatory processes with pain.

Once the two vertebral bodies have grown together completely, the growths no longer cause pain. At this stage, however, the mobility of the spine is then severely restricted. If such a cartilage brace breaks open again, for example due to an accident, this is very painful for the animal.

A disposition exists for large breeds and especially for boxers. Trauma or traction and pressure on the ligamentous apparatus of the spine, such as from a collar or even a halter, can trigger or maintain spondylosis. It is therefore not surprising that spondyloses are particularly common in the cervical spine or even the lumbar spine.

The suspicion of spondylosis is confirmed by an X-ray. Conventional medical treatment is surgical in the case of neurological deficits, otherwise also medicinal in this case.


Most animals do not moan or yowl; they give only indirect indications of pain. They avoid certain movements, are slow to stand up. Dogs turn in circles several times before lying down or trot behind while walking. Heavy panting can also be an expression of pain in dogs. These signs are often not even recognized by the pet owner as a symptom of pain or simply blamed on age.

Due to the continuous pain, the animal experiences a so-called distress, i.e. negative stress, and the quality of life is severely limited. Stress also weakens the immune system and leads to adaptation diseases.

If the animal suffers from chronic pain, i.e. pain that lasts longer than 14 days, it is recommended to perform pain therapy for about 10 to 14 days in order to regulate the nerve cells downwards again. The cells have a so-called pain memory. If nerve cells are exposed to pain impulses over and over again, they change their activity. Subsequently, a light stimulus (e.g., a touch) is sufficient to be mistakenly registered as a pain impulse.

Each animal is unique!

Our experienced team will be happy to advise you in detail and free of charge on all matters relating to the health of your pet:

What vital mushrooms for diseases of the musculoskeletal system

The Auricularia

Auricularia contains the most adenosine of all medicinal mushrooms. Adenosine improves the flowability of blood. It has a vasodilating effect, reduces platelet aggregation and reduces blood lipids. Thick blood promotes disease. From the point of view of TCM, many diseases have their origin in the insufficient fluidity of the blood.

This fungus also promotes blood flow to the synovial mucosa. If the synovial mucosa is better supplied with blood again, then the joint can naturally also be better supplied with nutrients. Since the joint is nourished via diffusion, this improves the supply. Auricularia can also dissolve thrombi in synovial tissue and subchondral blood vessels.

It also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the mucous membranes and skin. Its ingredient adenosine also has antioxidant and analgesic effects. Auricularia relieves pain especially in the lumbar spine and legs.

It can release blockages in the vessels and is used for muscle spasms, numbness and pain after injuries or accidents. Auricularia also activates lactic acid metabolism after physical exertion. It stimulates intestinal peristalsis and increases superoxide dismutase activity in the liver.

The Cordyceps

Remarkable about the vital mushroom Cordyceps is its great relation to the kidneys. It improves renal function and creatinine clearance. It increases the kidney and life energy and also has a relation to the bones via the functional circle of TCM. It relieves pain in the lumbar spine and knees.

Cordyceps also acts on the immune system. It stimulates Peyer’s plaques in the intestine and improves the function of Kupffer cells (Kupffer’s stellate cells) in the liver. It also supports liver metabolism.

The Hericium

Hericium shows a special effect on the nervous system. Its ingredients hericenone and erinacin stimulate nerve growth factor. It is able to rebuild the myelin sheaths of the nerves. Thus, it can be used for all diseases in which nerves have been damaged or severed, for example, after accidents.

There are studies where rats have had their nerves cut in the leg area. The rats could then no longer run. Hericium was given to these rats. The nerves completely grew back and the rats were able to walk again afterwards.

The Hericium can also be used well for a herniated disc. It is also given for paralysis and numbness in the legs. Its second area of use is the digestive tract. Hericium regenerates the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive tract.

The intestinal mucosa has a great influence on the immune system. If it is permeable, toxic metabolic products enter the blood and burden the liver in particular. Hericium rebuilds the damaged intestinal wall and thus relieves the metabolism.

The pleurotus

Pleurotus relaxes the tendons and joints. It is used for tendon disorders and relaxes the muscles of the lumbar vertebrae. Pleurotus strengthens muscles and tendons, strengthens limbs and relieves cramps. It also has a good effect on the intestines. Peurotus supports the growth of probiotic bacteria in the intestinal mucosa and increases the production of lactobacilli, enterococci and bifiobacteria.

The intestinal flora is an important part of the immune system. If the colonization is balanced, these germs fulfill countless tasks and nutrients can be optimally absorbed. Pleurotus also has an antioxidant effect and improves the function of the liver.

The Reishi

Of all the vital mushrooms, reishi contains the most triterpenes. They are predominantly found in the fruiting body of the fungus and in the spores. The triterpenes have a particular effect on the adrenal glands and have a cortisone-like and anti-inflammatory effect.

For arthritic pain, reishi has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. It also improves blood circulation to the muscles, strengthens joints, tendons and also bones. Reishi protects and detoxifies the liver. This effect can also be attributed to the triterpenes.

The shiitake

The shiitake has an alkaline effect. This has a positive effect in the case of an inflammatory process, since the tissue is then usually strongly overacidified. It is also capable of regressing small bone bulges. It is used for connective tissue weakness and thus has a positive effect on pastern joint laxity and a sagging back.

The shiitake has an analgesic and also anti-inflammatory effect. It reduces the formation of tartar and caries and is effective against the caries pathogens Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. Shiitake has an exceptionally good effect on intestinal candidiasis.

This makes it an important fungus after antibiotic treatment, where colonization of intestinal fungi is very common. Its polysaccharides also bind toxins in the intestine. Shiitake eliminates intestinal worms and improves liver function. It helps with stomach problems, as well as Qi deficiency of the stomach and spleen.

Other helpful natural remedies

Green-lipped mussel

The green-lipped mussel contains glycosamine glycan as a very effective component. It helps the body to rebuild damaged cartilage. Glucosamine is an important component for joint metabolism, it is the basic building material for tendons, ligaments and joint cartilage. It is needed in the body to repair and rebuild damaged cartilage in the joints and spine.

In young and healthy animals, the body still produces enough glucosamine to keep the joints functional. Old animals can no longer produce sufficient glucosamine. In this case, glycosamine glycan must be supplied in sufficient quantity.

In addition, the green-lipped mussel contains other effective ingredients such as lyprinol. It has a strong anti-inflammatory effect and contains 12 different omega-3 fatty acids. Glycosamine glycan is particularly important in an osteoarthritis cure. This is recommended for an older animal once or twice a year, over a period of at least three months.


Frankincense has an anti-inflammatory and cortisone-like effect. This effect is mainly due to the boswellic acids. They intervene in the body’s inflammatory reactions in a variety of ways. However, the anti-inflammatory effect of frankincense is probably due to various ingredients.

Frankincense has a stronger effect than the isolated boswellic acids. It is now known that the strong anti-inflammatory effect of frankincense occurs through four mechanisms in the body.

Frankincense is successfully used in all diseases in which leukotrienes play a major role. In animals, these are: joint diseases such as arthrosis, polyarthritis, Lyme arthritis, gout, lupus erythematoides, intestinal diseases such as IBD, allergic diseases such as hay fever and conjunctivitis, allergic wheals and bronchial asthma.

Due to its cortisone-like effect, frankincense can also be used successfully for all diseases for which success has been achieved with cortisone.

There is an improvement of the complaints after taking it for about 2-3 weeks, after 3 months there is a significant decrease of lameness, pain and stiffness and also freedom from complaints. Frankincense is better metabolized by the body when administered together with medicinal mushrooms. Here, especially the Reishi acts synergistically and a significantly lower dosage is needed.

For mushroom powders there are many suppliers

You will find trustworthy suppliers with controlled organic cultivation in Germany, but unfortunately also less recommendable importers of cheap goods. Read what is important when buying.

Note: The described effects are based on the intake of medicinal mushroom powder prepared from the whole mushroom. Please consult your pet therapist before use.


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