What are Cordyceps Fungus Benefits?
What is Cordyceps Fungus?
Cordyceps is a genus of fungi that includes more than 400 different species found throughout the world in both tropical and temperate climates. The most well researched Cordyceps fungus, Cordyceps sinensis, is harvested in high mountain regions such as parts of the Himalayas. Cordyceps fungus is a parasitic fungi, meaning it thrives by attacking living organisms such as trees, insects or even other fungi. Most Cordyceps fungi, however, flourish by planting their spores on insects and arthropods, ultimately allowing the spore to germinate and grow inside the insect, in turn, killing their host.
Wild Cordyceps fungus is extremely difficult to harvest and cultivate and, as a result, have an exceptionally high price tag of about $20,000 per kilogram, making it the most expensive mushroom in the world. That said, almost all Cordyceps fungus supplements do not contain this wild fungi. While scientists and researchers have yet to successfully cultivate the Cordyceps fungus in a lab setting, they have harvested Cordyceps anamorphs, mycelium cultures that are unable to produce a fruiting body. Through extensive studies and clinical trials, these anamorphs were found to produce similar benefits as true Cordyceps fungus, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and energizing benefits.
Cordyceps Fungus Benefits
- Boosts athletic performance
In the 1993 Beijing Olympic games, several Chinese runners broke various world records attributing their success to eating Cordyceps fungus. Throughout the next several decades, researchers found that the consumption of cordyceps fungus can improve the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and, thus, increase the oxygenation and flow of the blood. Additionally, researchers found that Cordyceps fungus also increases the production of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is responsible for delivering energy to the muscles. Together these effects not only help power the body for ultimate exercise performance, but also help the body recover during restoration and post-workout.
- Contains anti-aging properties
Cordyceps fungus is a high source of antioxidants, molecules that fight free radicals—unstable, damaging, atoms that can contribute to aging and a host of various diseases— in the body. As a result of these antioxidants, many studies in animals and fruit flies have shown that the consumption of Cordyceps fungus improves brain function, such as memory, as well as extends longevity by reducing oxidative stress. Ultimately, antioxidants play an important role in the human metabolic system by protecting against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Cordyceps fungus also has anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Researchers have been able to identify a multitude of anti-inflammatory compounds in Cordyceps fungus including polysaccharides, modified nucleosides and cyclosporines. One study in patients with moderate to severe asthma found that of those who were given Cordyceps fungus showed an improvement in lung function, asthma symptoms and the overall quality of life . On the other hand, Cordyceps fungus has a diverse array of active compounds that inhibit the growth of many types of cancer cells including lung, colon, skin, and liver cancers.
- Regulates blood sugar levels
Researchers have found that Cordyceps fungus contains several active polysaccharides and peptides, such as cordymin and CPS-1, which have the potential for influencing various physiological actions that help control insulin and blood sugar levels. More specifically, these constituents keep blood sugars at a healthy level by mimicking the action of insulin. In various studies in diabetic mice, a majority of the mice that were given Cordyceps supplements showed significant improvement in their blood sugar profiles. One study even found that 95% of a group of patients with diabetes who were treated with Cordyceps fungus showed a significant improvement in their blood sugar profiles, while only 54% of the patients showed improvement by taking conventional treatments. This research and evidence shows that Cordyceps fungus can be a promising alternative treatment for those with diabetes, especially those with type 2 diabetes.
Cordyceps fungus is an extremely powerful mushroom with a multitude of medicinal properties. Through various clinical studies in both animals and humans, it is clear that Cordyceps fungus has potent compounds that are effective in increasing energy, fighting against disease, creating a healthy balance in the body, and much more.