All You Need To Know About Cordyceps Mushroom
Cordyceps mushroom, like most of the medicines and supplements we use today come from natural sources. For years researchers have been investigating plants, animals, and fungi to find more effective drugs with limited side effects. Cordyceps is one such discovery that heightened the interest of researchers, primarily due to its immunity-enhancing effect along with other benefits.
What is Cordyceps Mushroom?
Unlike the mushrooms you might be familiar with, Cordyceps fungus (also known as caterpillar fungus) is quite interesting. It is a golden orange or brown-colored finger-like parasitic fungus that lives on certain caterpillars found in the mountainous region of China.
Folk practitioners of Sikkim (previously a part of China, now a state in northeastern India) referred to it as a cure for all illnesses. It is still seen as a highly valued ingredient in Chinese and Tibetan medicine. Traditionally, people working or living uphill used it as a tonic to boost stamina and decrease exertion caused by low levels of oxygen at higher altitudes.
The rise in demand for Cordyceps in the West spiked in 1993 when the coach of Chinese female athletes reckoned the use of Cordyceps supplement, as what contributed to the athletes’ ground-breaking performances.
Cordyceps Sinensis vs. Cordyceps Militaris
As of now, around 400 species of Cordyceps fungus have been discovered. Out of all, Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris are the most medicinally important. These two species are similar in many of their uses and benefits, but the main difference is in their chemical composition.
According to the research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, only Cordyceps Militaris contain cordycepin, while both of them contain adenosine. This enables Cordyceps Militaris to have a broader spectrum of action compared to Cordyceps Sinensis because cordycepin is the active ingredient responsible for major therapeutic action. Moreover, they have sugars such as beta-glucans and other constituents like amino acids, antioxidants, and lipids.
Cordyceps Sinensis is difficult to cultivate as it only grows in the Himalayas. Because it is so arduous to grow, it is very costly. On the contrary, Cordyceps Militaris can be cultivated in labs, and you can monitor the produce; thus, it is less expensive.
Benefits of Using Cordyceps mushroom.
Cordyceps increase energy levels by increasing the production of ATP (fuel of our body). It has also proven to improve performance by 7% during exercise. It also reduces exhaustion that is normally observed after a strenuous workout.
Cordyceps is best known for its immunity booster ability. It has been used for this purpose for years. It acts by regulating the normal flora, which is an important part of our immune system and maintains overall health. It triggers the release of specific chemicals that prevent the body from attacks by foreign disease-causing species.
The antioxidant content in Cordyceps is the reason for its anti-aging properties. These antioxidant molecules fight free radicals, which are major contributing factors in aging, and protect against cell damage.
Anti Tumour Activity
In vitro, studies have revealed the inhibitory effect of Cordyceps on tumour cells, including lung, colon, skin, and liver cancer cells. Cordyceps was also found to have eliminated leukopenia (decreased WBCs) which is a common consequence of radiation therapy in cancer treatment.
Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Cordyceps helps to manage type 2 diabetes by acting as insulin. The evidence of such effect was found in diabetic mice. Some studies also suggest that it might protect against kidney complications as well.
Prevents Heart Diseases
It seems to reduce the risk of heart diseases by decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. Adenosine found in Cordyceps protects the heart from injuries.
Improve Reproductive Health in Males
A scientific study conducted on mice reveals that using Cordyceps protects the testicles from oxidative stress. They are believed to support male fertility by boosting healthy sperm production.
One study showed that Cordyceps reduces inflammation by restricting some proteins. This makes it a potential anti-inflammatory agent to manage asthma and treat skin inflammation.
How To Use Cordyceps Mushroom Powder?
The Cordyceps supplement is usually marketed in capsules, tablets, or powder form. You can be blended into smoothies, milkshakes, or protein shakes. The powder can also be brewed as a decoction or tea. Besides its use as a supplement, its powder is also used in tinctures and elixirs.
When choosing a supplement, make sure the product has authorization from USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or NSF International. The verification from these regulatory authorities indicates that the product contains all the labeled ingredients and is safe to consume.
The recommended daily dose for adults is 3-6 grams orally for 1 year. However, this dose can differ from person to person according to their health status and the goals they’re trying to achieve by using this supplement.
Cordyceps Mushroom Precautions And Contraindications
Until now, there’s no evidence of adverse effects of using Cordyceps in pregnant or nursing women. But it should still be avoided because it is better to be safe.
Although Cordyceps does have a moderate interaction with immunosuppressant and anti-clotting medications as it counteracts their effect, thus it should not be used together with these medications.
Also, if you have any health problems or allergies, you must consult your physician before using the Cordyceps.
Summing Up Cordyceps Mushroom
After analyzing the pros and cons of Cordyceps fungus as a therapeutic agent, it is safe to say that its benefits range into so many areas that can help benefit a person. Although, a lot more about Cordyceps is yet to be discovered. But from the existing data, we can speculate how much potential this golden folk medicine holds.