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What Is Cordyceps Mushroom Extract?

Teacup filled with cordyceps tea and whole cordyceps beside it

Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that can be found all over the world. It grows from the inside of an insect with a spore-like appearance, stemming like a root, using mycelium. Cordyceps mushroom extract is a concentrated form of the beneficial compounds found in Cordyceps.

There are over 400 different species of Cordyceps, with Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris being the most commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Cordyceps are considered a leading superfood in the mushroom community. Growing in popularity, many supplements contain Cordyceps. Using it as a supplement or powder makes it simple and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

So, what’s all the fuss surrounding this parasitic fungus?

Traditionally used as a medicine, Cordyceps is believed to have significant health benefits. People have used Cordyceps for centuries to treat ailments such as lung and kidney disease, fatigue, and reproductive concerns. We continue to use Cordyceps continues in this way today. However, advancements have been made to make dried Cordyceps into a powdered extract. This can be added to supplements for easy ingestion.

This post will give you all the information you need about what Cordyceps can be used for.

Key Takeaways

  • Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus with over 400 species, known for its potential health benefits.
  • It works at a cellular level, promoting restoration and regeneration, and enhancing the body's natural defences.
  • Cordyceps is known for its stress-relieving properties, rich antioxidant content, and immunity-boosting abilities.
  • It has potential anti-aging properties and may help reduce cancer cells.
  • Cordyceps may support testosterone levels in men and hormonal balance in women.
  • It's believed to increase energy levels and improve exercise performance.
  • Cordyceps may help with respiratory issues like cough and asthma.
  • Studies suggest it may aid in lowering blood pressure and managing type 2 diabetes.
  • The recommended dosage is typically between 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day, but always consult with a healthcare provider first.
  • While Cordyceps has potential health benefits, more research is needed to fully understand its effects on humans.

What Do Cordyceps Do?

Cordyceps plays a multifaceted role in the realm of health and wellness. Its influence extends beyond the mere provision of health benefits, acting as a catalyst for body regulation and balance. 

Cordyceps works at a cellular level, promoting restoration and regeneration, which is crucial for maintaining optimal health. It's known for its adaptogenic properties and can enhance the body's natural defences. It also supports metabolic functioning, which indirectly aids in energy production and stamina. 

In essence, Cordyceps serves as a comprehensive health booster, working in harmony with the body's natural processes to promote health and vitality. We will delve into the specific benefits of Cordyceps in detail below.

What Are The Possible Benefits Of Cordyceps?

Cordyceps is a natural supplement known for its numerous potential health benefits. Its rich properties make it highly sought after for promoting overall well-being. Specifically, it is known for the following benefits.

Stress Reliever

Cordyceps is adaptogenic, which means it is believed to possess the ability to regulate and balance the body during times of stress. Many people think Cordyceps are an ideal substance to use if you are looking for a way to create balance during a stressful time.

Rich In Antioxidants

Antioxidants are essential in maintaining a happy and healthy body. They affect every function in your body by helping to restore and minimize the damage done by free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. Cordyceps are naturally rich in antioxidants and are considered a superfood due to antioxidant activity.

Immunity Booster

The antioxidant level in Cordyceps is also believed to contribute to maintaining gut health. Its potential ability to protect and restore cells creates stability in the gut by preventing free radicals and reducing inflammation to ensure a balanced gut environment. Considered a superfood, Cordyceps contains Beta-D-Glucans which have been shown to naturally regulate the body's immune system to aid the process of protecting against invaders that may cause illness and disease.

Anti-Ageing Properties

Cordyceps has been celebrated in TCM for its anti-ageing properties for centuries now, possibly only second to He Shou Wu in this regard.

The anti-ageing properties of Cordyceps are thought to be due to its antioxidant potency which is believed to help reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress affects the whole body with a broad range of symptoms, one of them being an increase in ageing. It is believed that this property may be able to reduce the effects of oxidative stress by restoring and regenerating skin cells to reduce the anti-ageing effects of oxidative stress.

Reduction Of Cancer Cells

Cordyceps is believed to have advanced healing effects in reducing cancer cells. Studies show that Cordyceps could potentially be effective in reversing the effects of leukopenia. Leukopenia is a side effect of leukaemia (a type of cancer). Leukopenia causes a reduction in the number of white blood cells in the body. The result is a decline in the body’s ability to defend itself against potential threats increasing its risk of disease and infection.

Cordyceps Benefits for Male

What is cordyceps mushroom extract?

Cordyceps For Testosterone

Traditionally Cordyceps was used as a medicine to cure numerous ailments, one of the most significant being an aphrodisiac to support sexual performance and reproduction.

It is believed that Cordyceps contains properties that support levels of androgens in men (hormones that contribute to reproduction in men and women).

Studies suggest that Cordyceps may help to support the health of steroidogenic acute regulatory enzymes found in tissues such as the testis. This enzyme serves to help the production of steroid hormones such as testosterone.

One way that Cordyceps is believed to be of help in increasing testosterone levels is its ability to combat oxidative stress.

There are many people who try to increase their levels of testosterone by overtraining with the misconception that this will increase hormone production. Doing so, consequently causes oxidative stress.

Cordyceps may provide anti-oxidative properties and reproductive hormone support to combat the effects and increase levels of testosterone without causing stress.

Additionally, animal studies suggest that Cordyceps may have the potential to boost Leydig cells in the testicles, contributing to increasing testosterone levels.

Cordyceps Benefits for Female

Supporting Hormonal Balance

Hormonal imbalances can lead to various health issues for women, including irregular menstrual cycles, mood swings, and hormonal acne. Cordyceps may help support hormonal balance by regulating the endocrine system. It can potentially assist in managing hormone-related symptoms and promoting overall reproductive health.

Enhancing Sexual Health

As mentioned, cordyceps has long been associated with improving sexual health and vitality. It is believed to have aphrodisiac properties that may also increase libido and improve sexual function in women. The fascinating aspect of cordyceps is its ability to enhance blood flow and elevate energy levels within the body, making it a natural and holistic solution for women seeking to improve their overall sexual wellness.

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Cordyceps For Energy

Glass teacup with cordyceps tea and whole cordyceps beside it.

Considered a powerful antioxidant, Cordyceps is believed to increase energy levels and exercise performance. Studies show that Cordyceps contain polysaccharides.

This compound is believed to have anti-fatigue and energy-boosting properties. As this property exists in Cordyceps, it’s believed that Cordyceps may also be able to increase energy levels by improving metabolic functioning.

Other studies have shown that Cordyceps may have free radical scavenging abilities. This is how a substance such as an antioxidant helps to protect cells in the body from being damaged by free radicals. Free radical scavenging results in an increase in an individual’s energy and aid recovery.

Many people believe Cordyceps may potentially increase the body’s production of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This molecule plays a critical role in delivering energy to the muscles. It acts as a method of transportation carrying precious cargo (energy). This molecule's ability to transfer energy influences our ability to recover and restore energy.

In relation to this belief, studies showed that after taking supplements of Cordyceps Militaris, participants experienced an increase in exercise performance by 11%.

Cordyceps are frequently used as a natural supplement to increase and improve athletic performance. It is believed that this fungus might be able to increase the body’s ability to absorb oxygen. In doing so, it can potentially use oxygen more efficiently which results in improved stamina and a quicker recovery.

It is also believed that the potential ability of Cordyceps to increase energy comes from the nutrients of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins contained within.

Cordyceps Benefits for the Lungs

Cordyceps For Coughs

Glass of cordyceps tea with cordyceps beside it

Have you ever had a recurring cough that you just can’t get rid of? A bad cough can be difficult to shift. Especially if it comes as a result of a disease such as chronic bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis is characterized as an illness that reduces the expiratory flow during forced expiration. This is usually presented as a phlegmy mucus cough.

A cough comes as a result of high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood that are struggling to be expelled from the lungs. The result can be painful and uncomfortable.

So what’s behind the belief in Cordyceps' ability to cure a cough?

Diseases such as bronchitis are caused by inflammation within the lungs. The occurrence of oxidative stress is the cause of an inflammatory process that has a consequential effect on the airways.

Oxidative stress refers to damage caused when there is an imbalance between free radicals (oxidants) and antioxidants within the body. Antioxidants keep free radicals stabilized to stop them from doing damage to the cells and tissue in your body. But, when there are more free radicals than antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs.

The process of oxidative stress in the lungs increases mucus production and secretion, worsening the inflammation.

Cordyceps contains a component called superoxide dismutase (SOD) - an antioxidant known for its ability to restore and regenerate cells. It is believed that Cordyceps may be able to combat the effects of oxidative stress by relaxing and opening the airways as well as reducing inflammation by restoring damaged bronchial cells.

Cordyceps is believed to provide a host of health benefits. One, in particular, is its ability to reduce oxidative stress in the lungs and subside symptoms of coughing.

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Cordyceps and Asthma

Glass of cordyceps tea with cordyceps beside it

Like bronchitis, asthma is also affected by inflammation of the lungs. Asthma is caused by an overreaction from the immune system to a trigger.

This could be anything from a response to an allergy to the inhalation of smoke etc. This response is similar to that of a response caused by an autoimmune condition where the body's immune system turns on itself.

The SOD contained in Cordyceps is believed to support a healthy inflammation response by working to reduce inflammation and restore cells.

There is also research that shows that when human cells are exposed to Cordyceps, the protein that is typically associated with increased inflammation becomes suppressed by Cordyceps. This links to the belief that Cordyceps potentially provides anti-inflammatory properties.

Considering that asthma is the result of inflammation in the airways caused by a trigger, animal research shows that Cordyceps reduces inflammation in the airways of mice.

This research suggests that Cordyceps could potentially be used as a source of therapy for asthma by reducing hyperactivity created by a stimulus and boosting respiratory function.

While the effects of Cordyceps on asthma in humans is inconclusive, there are studies that show that patients experienced a reduction of inflammation in the respiratory tract after using Cordyceps. This suggests that there are potential benefits to Cordyceps in helping asthma.

Cordyceps and Blood Pressure

Studies suggest that Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris possess properties that may aid in lowering blood pressure. Additionally, fermented Cordyceps sinensis has shown promise in reducing cardiotoxicity, which can indirectly support heart health and blood pressure regulation.

Cordycepin, a compound derived from Cordyceps, also exhibits beneficial effects when nanoencapsulated. However, it's crucial to remember that more research is needed to fully understand these benefits.

Does Cordyceps Thin Blood?

Cordyceps are believed to have blood-thinning effects to reduce blood clots and create regular blood flow. It is advised that anyone on blood-thinning medication avoids using Cordyceps.

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Cordyceps and Diabetes

Cordyceps militaris and its active compounds are increasingly being researched for their potential benefits in managing type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have found that extracts from Cordyceps militaris and cordycepin may help regulate gut microbiota and metabolites. 

Now, why is that important? Well, a balanced gut microbiota can improve the body's insulin sensitivity, which is often impaired in type 2 diabetes. This can help the body use glucose more effectively, reducing blood sugar levels.

Additionally, a protein from Cordyceps militaris has been shown to directly improve blood glucose levels, offering another potential avenue for managing diabetes.

Precautions

While Cordyceps are generally believed to be safe, it's important to know that there is always the possibility of side effects. It is advised that using Cordyceps supplements should be avoided if you are currently on blood-thinning medication, you are pregnant, breastfeeding. If you are unsure about whether you can take Cordyceps, be sure to check with your doctor first.

How Much Cordyceps Extract per Day

Generally speaking, doses of 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day are effective for providing certain health benefits with no associated side effects, but it's important to note that the ideal dosage can vary from person to person. If you're considering adding this supplement to your daily regimen, remember to consult with your healthcare provider first for personalized guidance on the amount that's right for you.

Conclusion

The effects of Cordyceps on humans are still to be determined.

However, the years of traditional use and studies carried out on the effects of Cordyceps on the body show that there is potential for Cordyceps to provide substantial health benefits considering the properties it contains.

Cordyceps can potentially improve the health of multiple areas of your body both internally and externally. The benefits covered show just how many ailments Cordyceps are believed to improve.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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