The word ‘fungi’ normally triggers fear and disgust. Images of yellow fingernails, skin irritations, and creepy things growing in a gloomy forest abound. However disgusting they may be, some types of fungi are actually extremely beneficial for health and are even sold for top-dollar by boutique wellness companies.
Cordyceps is one of these medicinal mushrooms which has come into the spotlight. Of the more than 400 species of Cordyceps discovered, two have become the focus of health research: Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris. Known as “Himalayan Gold” because it is often farmed on high mountain plateaus, cordyceps has been used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine for curing diarrhea, headache, cough, rheumatism, liver disease, kidney disease, and more.
In recent years, research on the cordyceps mushroom has correlated with traditional uses, reporting that this superstar supplement can support better energy and performance with improved endurance, and more stamina. Cordyceps may support reproductive health by increasing sperm count and improving libido. In addition, these mushrooms are said to promote heart health, decrease inflammation, and support organs for a better natural detox.
We looked into the science to bring you 5 reasons why cordyceps is so good for you.
What Is Corcydeps?
As far as foods go, we are generally used to things that walk, swim, sprout, or grow. But what about a brain-controlling parasite?
Yes, the way cordyceps grows can be quite off-putting. The cordyceps fungus grows like a parasite out of the brains of caterpillars, insects, and spiders. While commercial cordyceps is farmed on a barley substrate, in natural conditions, the fungus takes over the bodies and brains of its victims, forcing their zombified bodies to permanently relocate to jungle areas where conditions are ideal for the fungus to thrive. The fungus consumes its host, forms a long fruit body, and swells up, after which it can be collected, dried, and powdered for supplements.
Hesitation is understandable, but don’t let cordyceps’ cringe-worthy origins deter you from using this incredible supplement because it has so many unique benefits for your health.
Reasons to eat cordyceps fungi
People originally became interested in cordyceps after observing animals eating the fungus and becoming stronger and healthier. Traditionally, it was so highly prized that it was reserved for exclusive use by the emperor of China. Modern research has revealed that the main components of cordyceps, such as polysaccharides, cordycepin, adenosine, cordycepic acid, nucleosides, and ergosterol, are known to be important bioactive substances with medical relevance. Science has backed up many of its historical uses for a variety of health conditions, which we have investigated below.
The fruiting bodies of cordyceps contain polysaccharides – specifically, a type called beta-glucans – which have been studied to support immune health and overall wellness, as well as normal, healthy cell growth and turnover. Research shows that consumption of cordyceps modulates the function of immune cells such as natural killer cells that detect and kill virus-infected cells, tumor cells, and abnormal cells. Furthermore, activated natural killer cells promote the release of immune cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which are vital in supporting immune health.
Anti-inflammatory & cancer-fighting protection
It’s believed that the many anti-inflammatory benefits of cordyceps stem from their ability to positively affect the immune system by fighting oxidative stress and stimulating protective cells that keep the body free from mutations and infections. In-vitro studies have found that cordyceps can act as a natural treatment for tumors, and prevent the growth of cancers such as breast cancer, melanoma, and leukemia.
Reduced stress & fatigue
Modern herbalists use cordyceps to support healthy stamina and physical energy levels. It is considered to be a promoter of overall endocrine and hormonal health, and is used to support organ health in the liver and kidneys.
Improved athletic performance
Research has found that cordyceps increases ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) at the cellular level, and increases oxygen utilization by the body, resulting in more efficient energy use and better performance.
Anti-Aging & Memory Protection
How To Buy And Use Cordyceps
Cordyceps is rare in the wild but can be easily grown in controlled conditions. Widely available in powder, capsule, and tablet form, it’s quick and convenient to reap the rewards of this medicinal mushroom.
Look for a supplement that contains 100 percent fruiting bodies, which is the most researched segment of the fungi. Cordyceps Militaris may possess greater amounts of the active compound cordycepin than Cordyceps Sinensis.
Most people use cordyceps in the form of an extract or tincture, in capsule form, or as a dried powder. The powder can be incorporated into many recipes, such as hot drinks, smoothies, or baked goods.
Although generally considered safe at dosages of 1000 to 3000 milligrams daily, which is the amount often used in studies on cordyceps, people with autoimmune disorders and blood clot disorders should discuss with a trusted practitioner before starting cordyceps supplementation.
Overall, this unique fungi holds promise for many health conditions and diseases.
-The UpWellness Team