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Ultimate Guide to Cordyceps Extract: Health Benefits, Uses & Medicinal Research by Antioxi

Ultimate Guide to Cordyceps: Health Benefits & Uses

Ever seen a fungus take over an insect, turning it into a mindless puppet? That's the chilling reality of Cordyceps in the video game "The Last of Us." But in real life, this ancient fungus offers a much more promising story.

For centuries, Cordyceps has been revered in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits. Now, it's gaining traction in the modern wellness scene, popping up in adaptogen blends and pre-workout supplements. 

But what's the truth behind this fascinating fungus? Is it all hype, or does it hold the key to unlocking our well-being? Let us unveil the secrets of Cordyceps, its traditional uses in medicine, its potential health benefits backed by science, and the diverse strains available.

In This Article:

  • What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?
  • Cordyceps Powerhouses: Sinensis & Militaris
  • Types of Cordyceps Supplements
  • How to Buy a Good Quality Cordyceps Supplement?
  • Health Benefits of Cordyceps
  • Dose, Safety, Side Effects
  • How to Take Cordyceps Mushrooms for Health Support
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

    Cordyceps mushrooms, a type of parasitic fungi with more than 400 species, thrive globally, including regions like China, Japan, India, the United States, Australia, Peru, Bolivia, and beyond. They commonly infect insects and arthropods, each Cordyceps species having a specific host bug.

    The life cycle initiates when Cordyceps spores land on an insect. Upon germination, tiny thread-like structures called hyphae grow inside the insect, evolving into mycelium. The mycelium, akin to the root-like foundation of the fungus, continues to consume the insect internally.

    Once the fungal mycelium completes the consumption of the insect and under suitable environmental conditions, a blade-like mushroom, also known as the fruiting body, emerges from the insect's head. This mushroom then releases spores, restarting the life cycle.

    A wild cordyceps mushroom emerges from a host insect, showcasing its parasitic nature.

    Wild Cordyceps sinensis mushrooms emerge from the caterpillar's body that they have consumed. The caterpillar is situated underground, while the mushroom grows above ground. ©EBFoto

    Cordyceps Powerhouses: Sinensis & Militaris

    Wild Cordyceps Sinensis – The Caterpillar Fungus

    The most recognized type of Cordyceps mushrooms is Cordyceps sinensis, officially designated as Ophiocordyceps sinensis. This fungus infects the caterpillar of the Hepialus moth and is primarily found at high elevations in Tibet and the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, and Gansu. While it also exists in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, its prevalence is comparatively lower there.

    In Tibet, it goes by the name Yarsagumba or yartsa gunbu, while in China, it is referred to as Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo (冬虫夏草), translating to summer grass, winter worm.

    A wild Cordyceps sinensis mushroom erupts from the head of a deceased caterpillar, showcasing its unique life cycle.

    © Mg, Shashidhar & Giridhar, Parvatam & Kadimi, Udaya Sankar & Manohar, Balaraman. (2013). Bioactive principles from Cordyceps sinensis: A potent food supplement - A review. Journal of Functional Foods. 5. 10.1016/j.jff.2013.04.018. 

    Wild Cordyceps sinensis, as depicted above, is a rarity in 99.9% of Cordyceps supplements due to its exceedingly high cost. In reality, this particular Cordyceps variety commands a price exceeding $20,000 per kilogram, ranking it as the world's most expensive mushroom. Its distribution is primarily confined to the Asian market, with limited availability in North America.

    The steep cost of Cordyceps sinensis mushrooms, which include the caterpillar, stems from the historical inability of Chinese scientists to cultivate this species. Consequently, there has been heightened demand for the limited supply of wild Cordyceps sinensis. Although Chinese scientists have recently developed cultivation methods, the scale of production is not yet sufficient to influence the prices of wild Cordyceps sinensis.

    Cordyceps Militaris - A Cultivated Substitute

    There is currently a Cordyceps species that can be cultivated on a large scale for the production of its mushroom (fruiting body), and it is gaining popularity for use in supplements. This species is Cordyceps militaris.

    This particular Cordyceps variant can be easily and commercially cultivated at scale. The use of Cordyceps militaris enables the creation of authentic Cordyceps mushroom extracts for the first time.

    Cultivating the Cordyceps militaris species allows for the accessibility and affordability of Cordyceps supplements to a broad market.

    Advantage of Cordyceps Militaris vs Cordyceps Sinensis

    Cordyceps Militaris offers two distinct advantages over Cordyceps Sinensis:

    1. It does not involve harm to insects during its cultivation - Cordyceps militaris is grown in a sterile medium, not within an arthropod.

    2. It represents a more potent version of Cordyceps - Cordyceps militaris produces higher quantities of the health-supporting compound cordycepin (3′-deoxyadenosine) compared to Cordyceps sinensis. [1] 

    A 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry confirmed that not only does Cordyceps militaris contain more cordycepin than wild Cordyceps sinensis, but it can have up to 90 times more! [1]

    This information is crucial, as products claiming the benefits of cordycepin and labelled as Cordyceps sinensis may likely have negligible amounts of this phytonutrient. When deciding between a supplement made from Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris, the data strongly favours Cordyceps militaris as the superior choice.


    Types of Cordyceps Supplements

    Three types of Cordyceps supplements are commonly available in the market, serving as more affordable alternatives to the costly Cordyceps sinensis:

    1. Cordyceps CS-4
    2. Cordyceps Myceliated Grain
    3. Extract of Cordyceps Mushrooms (Militaris)

    Cordyceps Cs-4

    In the 1980s, as the popularity of wild Cordyceps sinensis rose and its price soared, Chinese scientists embarked on a mission to cultivate this fungus. Despite numerous attempts, there is still no cost-effective cultivated version of this mushroom. Instead, what resulted from these efforts are Cordyceps anamorphs, which are mycelium cultures incapable of producing a mushroom (fruiting body).

    These anamorphs were cultivated in a liquid growth medium to generate large quantities of pure mycelium.

    This technique is known as liquid culture mycelium or liquid fermentation, involving the growth of mycelium in a liquid solution of nutrients that can later be separated, leaving behind pure mycelium. Much of the research on mycelium is based on the principles of liquid fermentation mycelium.

    These anamorphs were extensively researched and were found to yield outcomes comparable to those of wild Cordyceps sinensis. This discovery led to the development of what is now recognized as Cordyceps Cs-4. After undergoing clinical trials in China, the Chinese government granted approval for its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) hospitals, establishing it as a safe natural product in the country.

    If a Cordyceps supplement claims to be Cordyceps sinensis and is manufactured in China, it is highly likely to be Cordyceps Cs-4.

    Other products labeled as Cs-4 may also be marketed under the name Paecilomyces hepiali, representing an anamorph form of Cordyceps sinensis.

    It's essential not to mistake Cordyceps Cs-4 (pure mycelium) with Cordyceps myceliated grain (see below), as these are distinct products.

    Cordyceps Myceliated Grain

    Because it is not cost-effective to cultivate mushrooms in North America for supplement purposes [2], if a Cordyceps product is grown in this region, it is highly likely to be Cordyceps myceliated grain.

    Myceliated grain may also be known as mycelium on grain (MOG), mycelium biomass, or grain spawn.

    Products derived from myceliated grain are often labelled as Cordyceps sinensis or Cordyceps militaris.

    Unlike the method used for Cordyceps Cs-4, where mycelium is grown in a liquid, myceliated grain involves cultivating mycelium in a plastic bag containing sterilised grain. This process is also known as solid-state fermentation.

    A challenge arises because, unlike in a liquid medium where mycelium can be separated, the mycelium cannot be isolated from the grain in solid-state fermentation. Consequently, the grain becomes part of the final product, diminishing the concentration of desirable Cordyceps compounds in the supplement.

    In mycelium-on-grain products, the mycelium does not entirely consume the grain, resulting in a substantial portion of the final product being the grain on which the mycelium grows. This is particularly noticeable with Cordyceps mushrooms due to their slow growth.

    Examining the table below reveals a significant presence of alpha-glucans, which signify starch derived from the grain. Since starch is a type of alpha-glucan, it becomes evident that the grain medium supporting the growth of Cordyceps mycelium is far from being fully utilised by the fungus.

    The abundance of grain corresponds to a lower amount of mycelium, as reflected in the diminished beta-glucan figures. This underscores the importance of assessing beta-glucans rather than polysaccharides in medicinal mushroom products. While these samples may boast high polysaccharide numbers (combining beta and alpha), the majority of them originate from non-beneficial starches, namely alpha-glucans.

    Beta-glucan and Alpha-glucan results of Cordyceps mycelium grown on grain: [3, 4]

    Beta-glucan and Alpha-glucan results of Cordyceps mycelium grown on grain

    The analysis of the three Cordyceps myceliated-grain samples revealed a notable presence of alpha-glucans, primarily derived from the grain. However, these products exhibited low concentrations of the beneficial fungal beta-glucans.

    Cs-4 vs Myceliated Grain

    The justification for myceliated grain is frequently based on research involving pure mycelium produced through liquid fermentation. However, as highlighted earlier with Cs-4, Cordyceps myceliated grain differs significantly from Cordyceps Cs-4. Therefore, utilising Cordyceps Cs-4 research to support the use of Cordyceps myceliated grain is not valid and can mislead consumers.

    Extract of Cordyceps Mushrooms (Militaris)

    Currently, Cordyceps militaris stands as the sole Cordyceps species that can be cultivated on a large scale to yield a mushroom (fruiting body), and its popularity is on the rise. Utilising Cordyceps militaris allows for the creation of authentic Cordyceps mushroom extracts for the first time. These extracts, originating from the mushroom as opposed to the mycelium, boast significantly elevated levels of crucial beta-glucans.

    Dried Cordyceps Militaris Fruiting Bodies by Antioxi

    Cordyceps militaris mushrooms (fruiting bodies) ©Antioxi

    Our Cordyceps Extract is derived solely from organic Cordyceps militaris mushrooms, containing over 25% beta-glucans. In comparison, Cs-4 usually has less than 10% beta-glucans, and Cordyceps mycelium on grain typically features 1-3% beta-glucans.

    A distinctive feature of Cordyceps militaris is its significant production of the compound cordycepin (3′-deoxyadenosine), surpassing the levels found in Cordyceps sinensis.

    Distribution of nucleosides and nucleobases in edible fungi

    Yuan, J. P., Zhao, S. Y., Wang, J. H., Kuang, H. C., Liu, X., Uan, J. I. A. N. I. N. G. Y., … Iu, X. I. N. L. (2008). Distribution of nucleosides and nucleobases in edible fungi. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(3), 809–815.

    As indicated in the table above, Cordyceps militaris demonstrates a significantly higher content of cordycepin (column "Co"), reaching up to 90 times more than wild Cordyceps sinensis. Cs-4 is likely to have even less cordycepin than wild Cordyceps sinensis, while Cordyceps mycelium on grain would contain almost negligible amounts due to the low mycelium concentration.

    This distinction holds paramount importance since products claiming the benefits of cordycepin and labelled as Cordyceps sinensis would probably contain minimal or undetectable levels of this phytonutrient. 

    It's essential to note that Cordyceps militaris products cultivated in North America still involve myceliated grain and not a genuine mushroom extract. Authentic mushroom extract powders are predominantly sourced from Asia, with China contributing to over 90% of the world's mushroom production.

    Increasingly, research is unveiling that Cordyceps militaris offers similar benefits to traditional wild Cordyceps sinensis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cordyceps militaris has been traditionally employed as an alternative to Cordyceps sinensis.

    Cordycepic Acid & Other Nucleosides

    Cordycepic acid should not be confused with cordycepin, a distinct compound found in Cordyceps. Despite numerous Cordyceps products highlighting Cordycepic acid (sometimes spelled Cordyceptic) as a beneficial component, it was discredited in the 1960s. Cordycepic acid is not unique to Cordyceps but is, in fact, D-Mannitol or Mannitol, a compound present in all medicinal mushrooms [5].

    Additionally, other nucleosides like adenine, adenosine, and uridine, often emphasised in Cordyceps, are also prevalent in various fungi, as illustrated in the table above.


    How to Buy a Good Quality Cordyceps Supplement?

    Choosing a good quality mushroom supplement can be a daunting task, as there are many options available in the market. However, there are a few key things to consider when selecting a high-quality mushroom supplement:

    Cordyceps Sinensis vs. Militaris

    Ensure you seek out supplements where the supplement is crafted from Cordyceps militaris. As previously mentioned, Cordyceps militaris yields significantly higher amounts of the health-promoting compound cordycepin (3′-deoxyadenosine) compared to Cordyceps sinensis. Furthermore, considering the cost difference between Cordyceps sinensis and militaris, opting for the militaris-based supplement becomes an obvious choice.

    Fruiting Body vs. Mycelium

    Verify that the Cordyceps militaris supplement label explicitly states its origin from the genuine mushroom (fruiting body), not the mycelium. Supplements derived from mycelium often incorporate the accompanying grain on which these fungal filaments are cultivated, resulting in a lower concentration of medicinal compounds. Cordyceps mycelium on grain is likely to contain minimal cordycepin due to the limited amount of mycelium present.

    Explore the notable distinctions between supplements crafted from mycelium and those derived from the fruiting body by clicking here.

    Organically Certified

    Opt for certified organic options as mushrooms tend to absorb pollutants from their surroundings.

    Third Party Testing & Active Compounds 

    Third party lab reports show the active ingredient testing of the mushrooms, ensuring they meet clinical benchmarks. Ensure the supplement label identifies the beta-glucan content, the key mushroom compound to getting health-supporting effects from fungi.

    Safety Tests

    Heavy metals and pesticides tests are safety tests which will indicate whether mushrooms are safe to consume.

    Click the link below to learn more about what to look for when choosing a high-quality mushroom supplement.

    Learn More

    Health Benefits of Cordyceps

    Having clarified many misconceptions about Cordyceps, let's now explore some of the advantages of incorporating Cordyceps into your daily routine.

     Health Benefits At a Glance:

  • Traditional Chinese Medicinal Uses
  • Cordyceps Can Boost Energy Levels & Athletic Performance
  • Cordyceps May Help Manage Respiratory Disease & Asthma
  • Cordyceps May Help Manage Menopause
  • Cordyceps May Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
  • Cordyceps May Help Improve Kidney Function
  • Cordyceps Can Help Improve Liver Function
  • Cordyceps Can Help Improve Skin Health
  • Cordyceps Benefits for Heart Health & Cholesterol
  • Cordyceps May Help Treat Arthritis
  • Cordyceps May Enhance Libido
  • Cordyceps May Support Testosterone Levels
  • Cordyceps May Help Manage Hepatitis
  • Cordyceps May Enhance Reproductive Health
  • Cordyceps Has Potential Anti-Tumour Effects
  •  

    Traditional Chinese Medicinal Uses

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cordyceps mushrooms hold a special status as a potent tonic known as Dōnɡ Chónɡ Xià Cǎo (冬虫夏草). These mushrooms were a prized offering in the Emperor’s court and among Chinese nobility, with the first recorded mention dating back to AD 620. Traditionally employed as a lung and kidney tonic, Cordyceps proved beneficial for respiratory issues, physical fatigue, and individuals with a delicate constitution. Additionally, it played a role in addressing sexual function, libido, and performance, marking key aspects of its traditional use.

    Cordyceps is classified as a jing tonic in TCM, nurturing yin, enhancing yang, and supporting kidney essence, which is regarded as the elixir of life. Essence is derived from lifestyle factors (post-natal qi: breathing, diet, meditation, mushrooms, and herbs) or inherent energetic reserves (pre-natal qi). Cordyceps is esteemed on par with other valued tonics like ginseng, reishi, and deer antler velvet.

    With a sweet flavour and slightly warm energetics, Cordyceps possesses subtle qualities essential for ensuring its appropriate use. Given its stimulating and strengthening nature, caution is exercised in cases of lung heat conditions, considering Cordyceps' potential to fortify both the individual and the existing bodily state.

    Since 2002, China has approved 50 medicines and two Cordyceps supplements, attesting to its recognized medicinal value.

    When delving into the traditional applications of Cordyceps, think of vigour and vitality—a clandestine tonic traditionally relied upon to fortify, rejuvenate, and invigorate both body and mind.


    Cordyceps Can Boost Energy Levels & Athletic Performance

    Taking cordyceps can improve ATP production. ATP (or adenosine triphosphate) is the body’s energy currency. The more ATP you have, the more energy you can use, which is important for tough workouts. [6]

    Having more ATP can also boost your VO2 max, or your body’s ability to efficiently use oxygen for performance. Higher VO2 max is common in endurance athletes and marathon runners, capable of continuously performing work without fatigue.

    Research with animals indicates that the polysaccharides found in Cordyceps mushrooms can mitigate fatigue and enhance markers of exercise performance. [7] In a specific study, rodents supplemented with Cordyceps militaris (CM) for two weeks exhibited delayed fatigue compared to those not receiving Cordyceps militaris. The CM-treated rodents demonstrated increased levels of ATP, antioxidant enzymes, and notably, reduced lactic acid levels – a significant factor influencing fatigue and the time to exercise-induced exhaustion. Essentially, these rodents were able to sustain longer and more intense physical activity without experiencing fatigue as quickly. [8]

    Cordyceps mushrooms have also been recognized for their antioxidative effects [9], suggesting potential support for athletes both during and after their performances. The recovery phase, often overlooked by athletes at all levels, becomes a crucial consideration for those using Cordyceps for performance enhancement.


    Cordyceps May Help Manage Respiratory Disease & Asthma

    One of the most widely recognized utilizations of cordyceps is for respiratory health. 

    The mushroom helps support respiratory infection treatment, improving the lungs' function and overall health. Researchers report how the fungus boosts oxygen absorption in the alveoli, the part of the lungs responsible for oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. Compounds in cordyceps extract also stimulate immunity, thereby protecting the lungs from a respiratory infection. [10]

    A recent report refers to how cordyceps may assist outpatients with chronic obtrusive pulmonary disorder, or COPD. The scientists likewise referenced the mushroom also helped improve patients' lung function, endurance levels, and overall quality of life. [11]

    Another study suggests taking cordyceps extract could help with asthma. [12] The study investigated the effects of Cordyceps polysaccharide on airway inflammation in a mouse model of asthma.

    The results suggested that Cordyceps polysaccharide may help alleviate airway inflammation by influencing a signaling pathway called TGF-β1/Smad. This pathway is known to play a role in inflammation. The findings indicate a potential positive impact of Cordyceps polysaccharide in the context of asthma-related inflammation.

    Click here to learn more about how mushrooms can help manage asthma.

    Cordyceps May Help Manage Menopause

    Cordyceps has shown to help balance hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone, while also supporting your adrenal glands. This can improve your sleep, regulate your weight, and help maintain a healthy immune system. [13]

    Click here to learn more about how mushrooms can help manage menopause.


    Cordyceps May Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels

    Cordyceps contains a unique sugar type that shows potential in diabetes treatment.

    Diabetes, a condition where the body struggles to produce or effectively respond to insulin, disrupts the normal process of transporting glucose into cells for energy. Insufficient insulin production or responsiveness results in elevated blood glucose levels, posing risks of severe health complications over time.

    Maintaining well-controlled blood sugar levels is crucial for individuals with diabetes. Cordyceps may contribute to regulating blood sugar levels by imitating insulin's actions.

    Numerous studies involving diabetic mice have demonstrated Cordyceps' ability to reduce blood sugar levels [14, 15, 16]. 


    Cordyceps May Help Improve Kidney Function

    Taking cordyceps has been shown to improve kidney function in patients with chronic renal failure and speed recovery in patients with kidney damage. In one study, the fungus lowered creatinine levels in patients with chronic kidney disease or CKD. [17]


    Cordyceps Can Help Improve Liver Function

    Cordyceps has shown to be able to help restore liver function, especially in patients with Hepatitis B and those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. [18]


    Cordyceps Can Help Improve Skin Health

    The cordyceps species has been found to help with skin hydration, boost collagen production, and elevate elastin levels. Elastin is a protein that provides strength and elasticity to our skin as well as other organs. [19]

    Research pointed out that cordyceps supplementation may have anti-inflammatory effects on common skin problems such as eczema. It may also have potential hormonal acne and breakouts benefits because it promotes testosterone and progesterone balance. [20]

    Cordyceps can also provide protection against excessive oxidation (which causes ageing) and prevents premature cell death. [21]

    Click here to learn more about how mushrooms can help improve skin health.


    Cordyceps Benefits for Heart Health & Cholesterol

    In China, Cordyceps are officially approved for treating arrhythmia, a condition characterised by irregularities in heartbeat, such as it being too slow, too fast, or irregular. [22]

    A study conducted on rats with chronic kidney disease revealed that Cordyceps significantly reduced heart injuries associated with the condition. These heart injuries are believed to contribute to an increased risk of heart failure in individuals with chronic kidney disease, and by mitigating these injuries, Cordyceps may help prevent such adverse outcomes. [23]

    The observed positive effects were attributed to the adenosine content in Cordyceps, a natural compound known for its heart-protective properties. [24]

    Cordyceps may also exhibit a favourable impact on cholesterol levels. Animal studies have demonstrated that Cordyceps can lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol [25, 26, 27], which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease due to the build up of cholesterol in arteries.

    Furthermore, Cordyceps extract has been found to decrease triglyceride levels in mice. [25] Elevated triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, are linked to a heightened risk of heart disease. [28]


    Cordyceps May Help Treat Arthritis

    For arthritis, cordyceps possess a compound called cordycepin, which has been studied for its unique anti-inflammatory properties. In animal studies, cordycepin has been shown to reduce both pain and stop arthritis progression. [29]

    Cordycepin works by blocking a special protein called CPS4 that triggers inflammation, especially in cases of osteoarthritis. Researchers notably stated it works differently from most anti-inflammation medication by attacking the same target from a different angle by blocking cps4 instead of the usual cytokines and interleukin proteins. This makes the mushroom a potential suitable complementary treatment for inflammatory conditions. [29]

    Click here to learn more about how mushrooms can help treat arthritis.


    Cordyceps May Enhance Libido

    Traditionally, Cordyceps mushrooms were employed to promote libido and sexual well-being.

    The majority of in vitro and in vivo animal studies propose that Cordyceps' potential to enhance libido may stem from its actions in supporting hormones.

    A study involving individuals with low libido treated with cultured Cordyceps reported a subjective improvement of 64.5%. [30] Additionally, a 2016 review referenced a study highlighting Cordyceps' ability to enhance libido and sexual performance in both men and women. [31]

    It's worth considering that medicinal mushrooms might act as 5-alpha-reductase (5AR) inhibitors, potentially impeding the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This has led to claims that medicinal mushrooms can contribute to maintaining healthy hair in men over 50, [32] though the veracity of such assertions remains unconfirmed.


    Cordyceps May Support Testosterone Levels

    Traditionally, Cordyceps mushrooms were employed as an aphrodisiac to enhance sexual performance and promote a healthy libido. Contemporary scientific research suggests their potential role in maintaining healthy androgen levels in men.

    In an animal study, Cordyceps demonstrated a protective effect against the impact of bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting plastic, on the reproductive system. It supported healthy testosterone levels, sperm motility, and sperm count. [35]

    Cordycepin, a component of Cordyceps, may contribute to the health of the steroidogenic acute regulatory (STAR) enzyme. This enzyme facilitates the conversion of cholesterol, the precursor to all hormones, into pregnenolone and subsequently into testosterone. [36, 37]

    Overtraining is a common mistake among those seeking to support healthy testosterone levels. Cordyceps, with its antioxidative properties, has been shown to counteract the negative effects of overtraining, reducing oxidative stress and its impact on the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal, and gonadal axis [38] as evidenced by a pilot study involving endurance athletes. The study indicated a decrease in overtraining markers, a balanced testosterone to cortisol ratio, and reduced oxidative stress. [39]

    Interestingly, certain animal studies indicated more favourable results with lower dosages (1% vs 5%), suggesting that less may be more when considering the hormonal-balancing effects of Cordyceps.


    Cordyceps May Help Manage Hepatitis

    Hepatitis is a condition which causes inflammation of the liver.

    One study found positive effects of cultured Cordyceps sinensis mycelia in people with chronic hepatitis B. [41] While it was a short-term study, the results suggest that Cordyceps could offer therapeutic benefits.

    Another study explored chronic hepatitis C and found that Cordyceps polysaccharides might have favourable effects [42]. This indicates that Cordyceps could be considered as complementary support for those dealing with this form of hepatitis.


    Cordyceps May Enhance Reproductive Health

    Cordyceps sinensis mycelium has shown promise in upregulating steroidogenic enzymes and elevating ovarian 17β-estradiol levels in granulosa-lutein cells. [43] This suggests a potential positive impact on female reproductive health, particularly in influencing hormonal balance. While the detailed mechanisms warrant further investigation, these findings hint at Cordyceps' ability to play a supportive role in addressing aspects of women's reproductive wellness.

    Research unveils intriguing insights into Cordyceps' effects on men's reproductive health. Cordyceps sinensis mycelium has been associated with activating signal pathways that stimulate steroidogenesis in Leydig cells, potentially influencing male hormonal production. Furthermore, supplementation with Cordyceps militaris has shown promise in enhancing sperm production in subfertile boars. These findings collectively suggest that Cordyceps may hold the key to supporting male reproductive functions and fertility. [44, 45]


    Cordyceps Has Potential Anti-Tumour Effects

    Cordyceps has attracted considerable attention for its potential to impede tumour growth. Researchers believe that this fungus may exhibit anti-tumor effects through various mechanisms.

    In laboratory studies, Cordyceps has demonstrated the ability to hinder the growth of various human cancer cells, encompassing lung, colon, skin, and liver cancers [46, 47, 48, 49]. 

    Mouse studies have further indicated anti-tumor effects on lymphoma, melanoma, and lung cancer. [50, 51, 52, 53]

    Moreover, Cordyceps shows promise in reversing side effects associated with certain cancer therapies, particularly leukopenia. Leukopenia is a condition marked by a reduction in white blood cells, weakening the body's immune defences and elevating the risk of infection. [54]

    In an experimental study on mice that developed leukopenia due to radiation and Taxol chemotherapy, Cordyceps effectively reversed leukopenia, suggesting a potential role in mitigating complications linked to cancer treatments. [55]

    Dose, Safety, Side Effects

    Dose

    General Health Maintenance:

    For those incorporating mushrooms into their routine for overall health benefits, a suggested dose of 3g or 6 capsules is recommended. This non-treatment use aims to promote well-being and vitality.

    Treatment-Targeted Use:

    If you are utilising mushrooms as part of a treatment plan for a specific health condition, a suggested dose of 5g or 10 capsules is advised. This higher dose is intended to address targeted health concerns.

    Flexible Dosage Regimen:

    Whether you prefer splitting the dose throughout the day or taking it all at once, the choice is yours. For optimal absorption, it is recommended to consume mushrooms on an empty stomach. However, if you have a sensitive constitution, consider splitting the dose and taking it after a meal.

    Why the Discrepancy in Recommended Doses?

    You may have noticed that some mushroom distributors recommend lower doses, such as 1g. This is often as large companies typically suggest consulting with a health practitioner to ascertain the right dosage for individual health conditions, which can result in recommendations for lower quantities. However, our dosage recommendations are directly informed by clinical literature, enabling us to provide specific dosing instructions with a solid foundation in research.

     

    Cordyceps Safety

    Breast & Prostate Cancer

    It is not advised to use Cordyceps if breast or prostate cancer is present until further studies are performed. [56]

    Bodily Infections

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cordyceps is not recommended if you have a sudden fever, the flu, or other infections invading the body.

    Diabetes

    It is not recommended for individuals who suffer from Diabetes to consume Cordyceps.

    Medication Interactions

    Cordyceps is generally well-tolerated; however, it has the potential to interact with certain common medications.

    Individuals taking blood-thinning medications, those with bleeding disorders, or individuals preparing for surgery should consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Cordyceps into their regimen.

    While some studies suggest that Cordyceps may have anti-inflammatory effects, it can also stimulate the immune system. Therefore, individuals with autoimmune diseases should seek medical guidance before considering the use of Cordyceps.

    It is also not advised for individuals who are taking hormone replacement and/or prednisolone medications to consume Cordyceps.

    If you have any concerns regarding the interaction between these mushrooms and your medications, it's a good idea to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can offer you the most appropriate guidance.

    Please bear in mind that the information we provide is for educational purposes and shouldn't be considered a replacement for professional medical advice. 

    Your health and safety are important to us and we want to ensure all our customers use our products to their benefit, not detriment.

     

    Side Effects of Cordyceps

    Cordyceps is generally well-tolerated with few side effects. Some people may experience mild digestive issues like diarrhoea, constipation, or abdominal discomfort, which might be eased by taking Cordyceps after a meal. 

    In some individuals, Cordyceps extract may cause anxiety because of its energising effects. Studies in rodents have shown that Cordyceps increases ATP production. [58] It's essential to consider an individual's overall health and adrenal function when using this medicinal mushroom.

    How to Take Cordyceps Mushrooms for Health Support

    Powders vs. Capsules

     

    cordyceps mushroom extract from antioxi

     

    For those with a fast-paced lifestyle, intricate recipes might not be in the cards. That's precisely why Antioxi has crafted an Organic Cordyceps Extract available in convenient capsule form. 

    If you're a cooking enthusiast or favour the convenience of a powder, our Organic Cordyceps Extract in powder form could be an ideal option for you. Our Cordyceps Powder can be seamlessly incorporated into smoothies, stews, coffee and all your other favourite meals and drinks. 

     It's essential to note that there is no difference in potency between our powdered extracts and capsules. Our capsules contain the exact same powdered extract, guaranteeing uniform effectiveness throughout our product line. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are the Mushrooms Organic?

    All of our mushrooms have been organically sourced and certified.

    Is It Safe To Consume Medicinal Mushrooms During Pregnancy or whilst Breastfeeding?

    While medicinal mushrooms can offer some great benefits during pregnancy such as strengthening immune health, improving digestion and of course the much needed energy boost, there is unfortunately not yet enough information regarding studies during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding where we can confidently give advice.

    The best would be to consult with your healthcare provider and/or midwife.

    Can Children Use Medicinal Mushrooms?

    Research regarding the use of medicinal mushrooms by children is still at its infancy. There is however an interesting study conducted in 2018 which investigated the effects of Reishi on immune system cells of 3-5 year olds. [59]

    The study showed that Reishi increased immune system cell counts in the peripheral blood, which are crucial for defending against infections. The treatments were also well-tolerated and safe, with no abnormal increases in serum creatinine or hepatic aminotransferases. While the study shows promise in the safety and effectiveness of the use of medicinal mushrooms in children, we do always suggest consulting with your child's doctor prior to introducing anything new into their diet.

    If you do get the go ahead we suggest reducing the diet to 1/4 of a dose for young children.

    These findings suggest the need for more extended controlled clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of medicinal mushrooms in preventing infections in children.

    What is the difference between the Powder and Capsules?

    There is no difference in terms of benefits. The only difference is preference of use.

    What is the difference between using the 8 Mushroom Blend and using an individual mushroom?

    Our 8-blend mushroom product is like an all-in-one health elixir. It's perfect for those seeking overall well-being, boosting digestion, or just looking for a daily health lift.

    However, if you're using mushrooms as targeted support for a specific health concern, say, Lion's Mane for cognitive clarity or Reishi for stress relief, the individual route is your best bet.

    Are There Any Allergy Precautions/Medication Interactions?

    Cordyceps is generally well-tolerated; however, it has the potential to interact with certain common medications.

    Individuals taking blood-thinning medications, those with bleeding disorders, or individuals preparing for surgery should consult their healthcare provider before incorporating Cordyceps into their regimen.

    While some studies suggest that Cordyceps may have anti-inflammatory effects, it can also stimulate the immune system. Therefore, individuals with autoimmune diseases should seek medical guidance before considering the use of Cordyceps.

    It is also not advised for individuals who are taking hormone replacement and/or prednisolone medications to consume Cordyceps.


    Which Mushroom Extraction do you use?

    The optimal extraction method once again depends on the mushroom itself. Different methods are used to promote and dissolve the unique active ingredients in the mushroom extracts and hence create a high spectrum mushroom extract.

    The 3 different extraction methods:

    1. Alcohol (ethanol)

    This extraction is used to draw out the fat-soluble compounds in the mushrooms, such as the adaptogenic terpenoids. 

    2. Hot water 

    This extraction is used to extract the water-soluble compounds, the polysaccharides, and the immunomodulating Beta-D-glucans. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a potent mushroom extract.

    3. Dual extraction

    Dual extraction refers to a combination of water and alcohol extraction. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a mushroom where the active ingredients benefit from both alcohol and well as a water extract.

    Hot water extraction works best for:

    Cordyceps, Turkey Tail & Maitake

    Double (alcohol & water) extraction works best for:

    Lion's Mane, Reishi, Chaga

    Do you use the Fruiting Body or Mycelium?

    We use the fruiting body of Cordyceps.

    We have a helpful article here which explains the different mushroom parts.

     

    Resources

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    Disclaimer

    The information on this blog is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before using medicinal mushrooms, especially if you are on medication or have a health condition. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. Use at your own risk. Statements about health benefits have not been evaluated by regulatory authorities. By using this blog, you agree to this disclaimer.