Mushrooms and other fungi have a long history of being used in both traditional medicine and in scientifically proven formulae. We’re going to explore what you need to know about cordyceps mushrooms in this guide, including the best cordyceps to buy, common cordyceps benefits, and cordyceps UK sources.
What is Cordyceps Fungus?
Cordyceps is a genus of fungi with about 600 different species in it. In most cases, these fungi are parasites, living on insects. Some of the 600 species may also be parasitic on other fungi. Cordyceps got its name from the Greek words for club and head, because of their club-headed appearance.
The vast majority of cordyceps fungi can be found in tropical forests and humid temperate regions, making them abundant in areas like Nepal, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, and China.
Cordyceps invades a host by getting into the host’s tissue and replacing it with its own. As the fungus branches out into the host body, the spores allow it to reproduce and take over more of the host’s tissue.
Due to the zombie-like effects that cordyceps causes in its hosts, it has been a plot device in many pieces of fiction, including the popular video games series The Last of Us and the novel The Girl with All the Gifts.
Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits
While studies of how cordyceps can help human beings sleep haven’t been conducted yet, animal studies have shown promising results. This study was conducted on rats and it determined that cordycepin is able to help increase the amount of non-REM sleep that rats can get.
This was determined to be due to the similar chemical structure of cordycepin and adenosine, which also plays a role in regulating the central nervous system and functions like the regulation of sleep. The study found that the substance was able to increase the theta waves’ density during non-REM sleep and made it a promising candidate for human trials.
Cordyceps for Liver
Several studies have been conducted to determine if cordyceps is able to help with liver disease, though most studies have been conducted on animals and not humans. This particular study went over the effects of cordyceps militaris on mice that were suffering from fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic).
The results of the study found that mice who were fed a diet that included cordyceps militaris water extract for a period of ten weeks had better results. This was largely due to a reduction of cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers. Cordyceps also helped improve the hepatic antioxidant levels in the mice.
Many studies have also gone over cordyceps’s ability to cut down on the level of inflammation that we experience. Because of these studies, researchers have reason to believe that cordyceps may be able to help with asthma treatment, with several studies testing the theory in mice.
For example, this study exposed mice to cordyceps after it was discovered that their airways were inflamed. While the study found that cordyceps wasn’t quite as effective as other medicines, it was still capable of helping the mice overcome their inflammation without many of the side effects that the other treatments were known for.
Cordyceps and Improved Exercise Performance
Other studies have shown that cordyceps may be able to help improve our ATP production. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a crucial part of ensuring that muscles get the energy that they need. One study gave participants either cordyceps or a placebo and then evaluated their results on an exercise bike.
The study determined that the test participants who were given the cordyceps were able to increase their VO2 max by 7%. On the other hand, the test participants that were given the placebo pill showed no change in their ability to work out compared to before the test was conducted.
Cordyceps Side Effects Weight Loss
This study was conducted to determine whether or not a cordyceps supplement was able to help increase the metabolism of certain species of mice. The mice were fed a high fat diet and then had their metabolism and food efficiency ratios tested. The mice who were given cordyceps had consistently better scores in these areas.
Aside from those two areas, the mice were tested for fat distribution in their livers and their livers. The group that used cordyceps showed lower overall liver weight and more even fat distribution. The biggest change in the studied group was in their metabolic parameters, though the other results were also considered promising.
Types of Cordyceps Mushroom
There are over 600 species of cordyceps mushrooms, ranging from cordyceps militaris to cordyceps sinensis. Most of the studies we’ve mentioned over the course of this article have used cordyceps militaris, and the effects of these fungi can vary either slightly or dramatically based on which of the 600 species are consumed.