The scientifically proven health benefits of cordyceps mushrooms on the entire body are vast, from increasing immune function to helping balance blood sugar. As adaptogens, cordyceps also help our body manage overall stress response and increase energy. Read more to find out learn about the powerful benefits of cordyceps mushrooms on your entire body.
Recently the ever so lovely mushroom community has been all over cordyceps mushrooms – and for very good reason. Also referred to as caterpillar fungus, cordyceps have been a part of traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine for centuries. Cordyceps are a combination of a larva or caterpillar (of a moth and butterfly species typically) and a fungus and can be found at high altitudes in the Himalayas. Cordyceps spores, which are indeed parasitic, land on insects and proceed to consume the organism from the inside. Once summer hits, the fungus itself begins to grow from the caterpillar’s head. The final product is cordyceps which is quite distinct in their natural form, resembling slim orange fingers. Cordyceps have been used as a type of medicinal adaptogenic mushroom in ancient medicine and recent years because of their numerous health benefits.
What Are the Two Types of Cordyceps?
Cordyceps sinensis mushrooms, now technically called Ophiocordyceps sinensis, is one part caterpillar and one part stroma. The stroma, which eventually allows for the sporing of the fungus, is the upper part of the mushroom and tends to be black or dark brown (though when fresh you may see it yellow). The other type of cordyceps mushroom is the Cordyceps militaris. This one is distinguished by its club-shaped head and solid orange hue.
While both types of mushrooms are different, they each have been found to provide the same benefits. They have the same bio-active compounds, and one study revealed that both cordyceps varieties have the highest amino acids compared to other mushrooms such as Shiitake and Oyster.
What Are the Benefits of Cordyceps?
- Cordyceps can both increase your energy and decrease fatigue.
What a double-whammy! Yes, this special mushroom has been found to improve exercise performance, help boost energy and promote less exhaustion. One 2009 study featured in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that the healthy elderly adults that took Cordyceps sinensis supplements over a 12-week period had better breath-by-breath analysis results than those who had taken placebos. Those subjects were also able to maintain their overall wellness. Another 2015 study had similar findings with rodents, in which the rodents that consumed Cordyceps militaris supplements had less fatigue or reached fatigue later than those rodents that didn’t consume cordyceps. The rats were able to perform challenging tasks for a longer period of time.
Taking cordyceps mushrooms can be particularly helpful for those with active lifestyles who want to push their exercise routine to a new level. Having more energy and delayed fatigue will allow you to reach those activity goals!
- Cordyceps can help you manage stress
Most of us could use some stress relief, and cordyceps mushrooms can help! Cordyceps are known as adaptogens, which is a special class of herbs that can help support our adrenal glands. You might not know that the adrenal glands are key regulators of our bodies energy levels, including physical and mental performance. And by helping to support our adrenal glands, cordyceps can, in turn, balance our stress hormones such as cortisol. Balanced hormones are key to managing stress-so next time you are feeling stressed, try some cordyceps mushrooms!
- Cordyceps can help balance blood sugar levels
One of the leading causes of death in the West is heart disease, and many heart diseases stem from unhealthy blood sugar levels. By helping manage your blood sugar levels, cordyceps can thus help prevent the development of certain heart diseases and conditions, too. This is all thanks to the cordycepic acid (D-mannitol cordycepin) and 3’-deoxyadenosine. They are active constituents found in cordyceps that contribute to insulin regulation. One study conducted in mice found that cordyceps supplements actually helped the mice fight hypoglycemic effects that were present in both normal and diabetic mice. Therefore cordyceps can be quite helpful for individuals with diabetes.
- Cordyceps support your immune system
Your immune system is what helps you fight disease – its function is to defend the body from infection and external invasion. A strong immune system is extremely crucial to your health, and that’s where cordyceps mushrooms come in handy. Cordyceps mushrooms benefit immune function because they consist of cyclosporine, modified nucleosides, and polysaccharides. These important components, combined with the high antioxidant levels in mushrooms, help to lower inflammation and enhance defense mechanisms within the body.
On top of all of that, Cordyceps militaris can possibly help in neurite outgrowth stimulation, meaning it may benefit cognitive function and health!
- Cordyceps may support healthy liver and kidneys
Cordyceps benefit our digestive organ function, including helping those suffering from damaged livers, for example. By helping digestive function, Cordyceps have been linked to improved energy metabolism and reduced oxidative stress. One eight-week study, in particular, supported these very observations. At the end of the trial in which mice took oral cordyceps supplements, indicators of liver disease, heart damage, and disorders related to metabolism were all improved. The results were significant – what a breakthrough! Ridding the body of toxins is so crucial to a healthy functioning body.
- Cordyceps can support sexual function
Animal studies have shown that cordyceps taken by rodent subjects have aided the animal’s inefficient oxygen use and better blood flow (8). These benefits can be linked to the improvement of both sexual function and overall physical health. We also mentioned that cordyceps can help lower inflammation levels, reduce fatigue, and improve energy – and these factors can ultimately help improve fertility, maintain libido, and even help to prevent impotence.
- Cordyceps may protect against cancer
Cordyceps are high in antioxidants, which can be a strong defense against cancer. Additionally, a study found that a compound found in cordyceps could be helpful in promoting resistance to cancer and potentially even helping to prevent the spread of tumor cells(9). And there is even some evidence that cordyceps could help combat symptoms caused by chemotherapy. In a 2008 study, researchers found that Cordyceps sinensis was able to reverse some detrimental effects in mice from Taxol-induced leukopenia. Thus, paired with other cancer treatments, cordyceps may work wonders.
How to Add Cordyceps to Your Diet
Adding cordyceps mushroom to your diet can be quite easy. Cordyceps can be eaten in extracted powder form, so you can throw it into your favorite recipes. Cordyceps are also available in capsules, extracted liquid form, and tinctures! Another way to get cordyceps into your diet is through Mindful Matcha, a green tea blend packed with superfoods and adaptogens. Try these delicious matcha/cordyceps recipes:
SUMMARY of Health Benefits of Cordyceps:
- Cordyceps mushrooms are a distinct fungi that have been naturally crossed with a larva or caterpillar.
- Cordyceps mushrooms have been used as an adaptogenic, medicinal mushroom for centuries.
- While there are two types of Cordyceps – that’s Cordyceps Sinensis and Ophiocordyceps sinensis – both have been shown to have the same benefits!
- Cordyceps heighten your energy and reduced fatigue, making them quite helpful for those who lead an active lifestyle!
- Cordyceps can help manage your blood sugar levels that can ultimately help prevent heart-related diseases and conditions.
- Cordyceps are great for your immune system and can give your body the ultimate detox.
- Cordyceps have been linked to improvement in sexual function and fertility.
- Cordyceps can be eaten in their powder form, such as in Mindful Matcha, allowing you to add them into anything from smoothies to sweet treats.
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