With over 400 species, cordyceps is another class of medicinal mushrooms making waves in health research and a commonly used supplement. A parasitic fungi, cordyceps are a genus of Ascomycota that feeds on caterpillars to grow elongated fruiting bodies that are cylindrical in shape. Found naturally in mountainous regions of china, however, cordyceps are mainly produced commercially in laboratories to maintain demand and affordability. Cordyceps have become so poplar, buying wild cordyceps could set you back $20,000 per kilogram.
Due to its high demand, and hefty price tag, cordyceps are now produced by cell culture. Like many other medicinal mushrooms, mycelium is used rather than wild sources in most supplements as its profile is very favorable in comparison, minus the price tag. Cordycpes have become a highly valued and widely used tonic in herbal medicine.
Cordyceps are also known as; cordyceps sinsensis, cordyceps militaris, caterpillar fungus, ceterpiller mushroom, summer-grass winter worm, totsu kasu, yarchakunbu and aweto.
As a disease fighting mushroom, cordyceps are crucial in destroying free radicals, infections and inflammation. Used for centuries in Chinese and Tibetan traditional medicine, cordyceps treat and protect against respiratory disease, sexual dysfunction, kidney and liver disease, high cholesterol and heart disease, fatigue and weakness, poor circulation, cancer, and, diabetes. Additionally, cordyceps have a long history in Ayurvedic medicine providing “vigor and vitality”.
As with all types of medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps contains numerous advantageous bioactive ingredients that have the potential to stimulate cells and chemical reaction in the body, especially the immune system, making it a viable addition to improving health through natural alternatives. A component of cordyceps that makes it unique is C.sinensis. C.sinensis has the potential to increase the production of ATP, thus increasing oxygenation to cells and increasing energy production. This pathway has led to research attempting to show how cordyceps improve athletic performance.
It is well known that chronic stress alters our brain and moods, leading to impaired cognitive function and depression. Ultimately, chronic stress untreated over time accelerates neurodegeneration that can then result in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s. Cordyceps use has been linked to improved nootropic function by increasing brain-derived neutropic growth factors (BDNF) that are often low during high levels of stress and inflammation of the brain. A study in 2014 showed incredible results where cordyceps supplementation resulted in a reduction in inflammatory markers in the brain, with positive benefits on mood and memory.
Known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and organ protective benefits, cordyceps leads the way in utilizing natural, non-toxic alternative to maintain optimal health. Dosage of cordyceps ultimately depend on what health benefits people want to achieve. The general recommendation is 3-5 grams per day to assist with immunity, stamina, anti-aging and libido. No current research outlines optimal intake, and the only caution for diabetics, as cordyceps may lower blood glucose levels.