You may see Cordyceps and wonder how it could help your health. Surprisingly, this caterpillar fungus has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Here we will discuss the benefits of Cordyceps, and how they can help you.
Cordyceps: The ‘Soft Gold’ Fungus
Their Tibetan name means ‘summer grass, winter worm’ due to the Cordyceps life cycle. In winter, the fungus infects the caterpillars living underground. Later in summer, the fruiting body stalks emerge from the dead caterpillar’s head and break through the ground above.
In traditional Chinese medicine, Cordyceps was known for being a balance of yin and yang. This balance was due to it being considered both an animal and a ‘vegetable’.
Cordyceps mushroom benefits in TCM included treating cough, fatigue, and weakness after a severe illness.
Due to their popularity for both status and medicinal purposes, wild Cordyceps is now in danger of going extinct from overharvesting. In fact, they're so rare and popular that they're known as 'soft gold' in China. They earned this nickname for being worth more than gold as of 2018.
Luckily, these fungi can be grown in labs, so you can still get their benefits. These Cordyceps benefits include the following.
1. Improves Energy & Endurance
Energy is the fuel you use to do anything in your life. Without it, you will get nothing done.
On the other hand, endurance lets you power through difficult situations.
Both energy and endurance can be broken down into the two categories of physical and mental.
- Physical = Your physical body
- Mental = Your brain
Out of all Cordyceps benefits, its ability to improve energy and endurance is the most well-known.
A study in 2010 looked at the Cordyceps effects on exercise performance in healthy elderly subjects. The subjects were split into two groups: one took 333 mg of the fungus three times a day for 12 weeks and the other took a placebo pill for the same period.
The results showed that the fungi group’s metabolic and ventilatory thresholds showed significant changes that were not seen in the placebo group. In other words, Cordyceps improved exercise performance and might contribute to wellness in healthy older subjects.
Meanwhile, a 2011 study orally administered Cordyceps to rats for 15 days to test the effects on physical fitness. The results found that it activates the skeletal muscles and muscle regulators, as well as coordinates an antioxidant response. All of the above combined causes an improved exercise endurance capacity.
2. Has an Antiaging Effect
You’ve probably heard of the antiaging product industry. This category includes anything that can prevent or lessen the effects of aging.
Did you know that one of the benefits of Cordyceps involves a similar effect?
A 2009 study tested the antiaging effect of Cordyceps extract on mice aged with d-galactose as well as castrated rats. They found that the fungi improved the brain function and antioxidative enzyme activity of the mice. Meanwhile, the fungus extract also promoted sexual function in the rats. Overall, they concluded that the mushroom has an antiaging effect.
In another study published in 2015, scientists studied the effect of Cordyceps oral liquid on fruit flies. Specifically, they examined how it affected the fruit flies’ lifespan. They concluded that the mushroom has an anti-oxidative stress effect that extends the fruit flies’ lifespan.
3. Assists in Managing Diabetes Symptoms
The term diabetes encompasses a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (aka glucose). While the cause of diabetes depends on the type, each one can lead to a high blood sugar level.
That’s where Cordyceps might be able to help.
In a 2004 study, scientists studied how the fungi could combat diabetes symptoms in diabetic rats. The results found that Cordyceps fruiting bodies reduced diabetes-induced weight loss, extreme thirst, and high blood sugar levels.
4. May Help Support Cancer Treatment
Cancer is what causes cells in your body to grow out of control. Each part of your body has a chance of being infected.
Cordyceps, like other functional mushrooms, may help fight certain types of cancer.
Early studies into Cordyceps’ effect on cancer occurred in the 1990s.
One study in 1990 found that the extract could increase immune reactivities in tumor-bearing ice. Another study happened in 1999 where the water extract was tested on mice with liver metastasis from Lewis lung carcinoma and B16 melanoma.
A more recent study in 2007 studied CS water extract on mice with liver metastasis of Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) and B16 melanoma (B16). The results showed that a certain component in CS has anti-metastatic properties that kill both LLC and B16 cells.
Despite their offputting life cycle, Cordyceps is an extremely helpful energy booster among other things. If you’d like to try out some Cordyceps, check out our Active mushroom tincture (available for purchase in the US) and see if you feel the difference.