Natural Treatments for Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s Disease occurs when an excessive amount of the hormone cortisol – often referred to as the “stress hormone” builds up in the body.

Normally cortisol controls blood sugar levels, regulates metabolism and blood pressure and controls inflammation. During times of stress, cortisol triggers your body’s fight or flight instinct by raising blood sugar levels to give your body the extra energy it needs to deal with the stressful situation.

Too much cortisol, however, can lead to problems such as anxiety, insomnia, memory and concentration issues and weight gain. Over time it can lead also lead to a condition called Cushing’s Disease.

Dogs’s can also develop Cushing’s Disease. Some symptoms of Cushing’s in dogs include:

  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • increased appetite
  • lethargy
  • excessive panting
  • hair loss and skin problems
  • a “potbellied” appearance

The two most common reasons that a dog might develop Cushing’s disease are:

A benign tumor in the pituitary or adrenal gland that can trigger the body to produce too much cortisol. 

The second reason is high doses of steroid medications. Steroids are very often used as anti-inflammatory drugs or as immunosuppressants – to treat autoimmune diseases. These synthetic forms of hormones are much more potent than what the body would naturally produce on its own. When given in high doses and for extended periods of time steroids can lead to excess cortisol in the system and the development of Cushing’s Disease, and they can also begin to suppress the immune system.

Natural Treatmens for Cushing’s Disease

Although there is no “cure” for Cushing’s, there have been a number of studies on the disease and several natural treatments have proven to be very effective in dogs. These natural remedies are gentle so they can been taken for long periods of time with no serious side effects.

Since excess cortisol is the cause of the problem, the cure logically would involve finding a way to control the amount of cortisol produced by the body. The following three supplements have been very successful in naturally treating Cushing’s Disease.


Lignans are found in a number of plants, fruits and vegetables, but the highest concentrations are found in the hull of the flaxseed. These antioxidant phytonutrients  are useful in balancing hormones as well as in helping to support the immune system. Lignans have proven very effective in treating Cushing’s because they inhibit the enzymes that produce cortisol in the body.

There are two types of lignans. Lignans from flaxseeds and HMR lignans from the Norway Spruce tree. The main difference between the two types is fiber content. HMR lignans have no fiber while lignans from flax are high in fiber. Some dogs respond better to one version over the other. 
Make sure you buy a quality flax seed lignan extract – giving your dog flax seed or oil will not provide enough lignans.


Most often used to treat insomnia, melatonin also inhibits the enzymes responsible for cortisol production. Melatonin can also help relax your dog, and by lowering their level of stress they will produce less cortisol naturally.
-Do not use timed release or rapid release formulas.              

Hemp CBD Oil:

CBD is a phytocannabinoid found in the hemp plant that has been shown to have a myriad of therapeutic effects. The CBD compound attaches to receptors located primarily in the immune and digestive systems and helps to strengthen and restore balance in the body.

CBD is an incredible supplement for pain management and inflammation. It can also help regulate appetite and sleep patterns, as well as help your dog stay calm and relaxed – which once again will decrease the amount of cortisol bring naturally produced.

How does CBD work?

CBD is an unregulated supplement so you need to be careful of your source. Many manufacturers are selling hemp seed oil rather than hemp CBD oil.                                                      Click here to find out the difference between hemp seed oil and hemp CBD oil.

Cushing’s  Disease stresses the liver and causes it to overwork so these additional supplements could be very beneficial to maintain healthy liver function.

SAMe (S-Adenosyl L-Methionine) is a molecule that is produced naturally in the body and is important for healthy liver function.

Milk Thistle has also been shown to help reduce liver inflammation and liver damage.

Why should you choose a holistic approach over more conventional treatments?

Conventional medicine aims to treat and alleviate the symptoms.  A conventional treatment for Cushing’s often involves chemotherapy type of drugs whose goal is to destroy the gland that is producing excess cortisol. If there is too much damage to the glands, however, and too little cortisol is produced then Addison’s Disease (adrenal insufficiency), can develop.

On the other hand, holistic medicine looks at the entire being. The goal of a holistic approach is to treat not just the symptom, but to find the source of the problem and bring the entire system back into homeostasis. Natural treatments are also much more gentle and have very few harsh side effects.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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