What is Cordyceps?
A parasitic fungus that takes over and grows out of insect larvae. The remains of the insect and fungi have been hand-collected, dried, and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to treat fatigue, sickness, kidney disease, and low sex drive. We use the patented extracted form of Cordyceps known as Cs-4®, which has been clinically studied to produce the same benefits and effects as wild Cordyceps and certified by the Chinese government as suitable for use in TCM hospitals.
What are Cordyceps' health benefits?
Cordyceps is studied to improve respiratory health, increase oxygen uptake, boost heart health, and detoxify the body. This fungus is also found to help prevent certain types of cancer. It slows the aging process, improves energy balance and metabolism, and supports healthy immune function.
Do your Cordyceps grow out of bugs?
No. The Cordyceps extract we use is known as Cs-4®. It was extensively analyzed in order to compare its basic nutrient and chemical profile to the wild Cordyceps used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Amino acids and nucleosides were analyzed and compared. Then Cs-4® was subjected to a rigorous series of clinical trials to see if it produced the same benefits and results as wild Cordyceps. By 1990, on the basis of positive clinical trials, Cs-4® was certified by the Chinese National government as suitable for use in TCM hospitals and was recognized as a new and safe natural health product. If your Cordyceps product is mycelium made in China, it is likely Cordyceps Cs-4®, considered to be a strain of C. sinensis made by fermentation technology, which means it should be 100% pure mycelium.
Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that naturally grows on the larvae of insects.
When these fungi attack their host, they replace its tissue and sprout long, slender stems that grow outside the host’s body. The remains of the insect and fungi have been hand-collected, dried and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to treat fatigue, sickness, kidney disease and low sex drive.
Supplements and products containing Cordyceps extract have become increasingly popular due to the array of studied health benefits.
Of the more than 400 species of Cordyceps discovered, two have become the focus of health research: Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.
However, the efficacy and therapeutic consistency of Cordyceps supplements cultured from wild Cordyceps is not certain. Instead, we use a pure, bioavailable, and bioactive form of Cordyceps primarily known as Cs-4®, a patented extract made from 100% organic fruiting bodies which are rigorously tested and guaranteed for active compounds. Cs-4® is the same patented extract used in pre-clinical and clinical studies of Cordyceps.
This article highlights 5 potential breakthrough benefits of Cordyceps, based on science.
1. May boost exercise performance.
Cordyceps is studied to exert a range of benefits that support physical performance and endurance, namely by promoting ATP production, decreasing lactic acid, and increasing muscle and liver glycogen levels.
Studies demonstrate that Cordyceps improves the way your body uses oxygen, especially during exercise, by increasing your body’s production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This molecule is essential for delivering energy to the muscles.
In one study, researchers tested Cordyceps' effects on exercise capacity in 30 healthy older adults using a stationary bike. Participants received either 3 grams per day of a synthetic strain of Cordyceps called CS-4 or a placebo pill for six weeks.
By the end of the study, VO2 max had increased by 7% in participants who had taken CS-4, while participants given the placebo pill showed no change.
VO2 max is a measurement used to determine fitness level.
While researchers found no change in VO2 max in either group, participants given CS-4 improved other measures of exercise performance.
One study also tested the effects of a Cordyceps-containing mushroom blend on exercise performance in younger adults.
After three weeks, participants’ VO2 max had increased by 11%, compared to a placebo.
When lactate accumulates at high levels in the blood and muscles, it creates acidity called lactic acidosis, which causes muscle fatigue and at high levels can interfere with muscle recovery. By delaying lactate accumulation and improving its transport, Cordyceps can help you last longer and recover more quickly, both during and post-workout.
Maintaining high muscle glycogen levels also improves the post-workout genetic signaling related to muscle growth and repair, which likely leads to greater muscle gain over time.
Anti-aging Healthy aging properties.
The elderly have traditionally used Cordyceps to reduce fatigue, boost strength, and ignite sex drive.
Our bodies naturally produce more free radicals as we age. Researchers believe that Cordyceps' potent antioxidant properties may explain their anti-aging potential.
Science has established that oxidative stress plays a crucial role in accelerated aging and the development of age-related diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, dementia, cancer, atherosclerosis, vascular diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndromes. Antioxidants are molecules that fight cell damage by neutralizing free radicals, which can otherwise contribute to disease and aging.
While studies have established Cordyceps' potent antioxidant activities, further human research is needed.
In animal models, several studies have found that Cordyceps increase antioxidants in aged mice, helping improve memory and sexual function. Of particular note was the increase in Glutathione levels, your body's master antioxidant. Of the numerous antioxidant systems present in your mitochondria, mitochondrial glutathione emerges as the main line of defense for maintaining the appropriate mitochondrial redox environment.
One study found that mice given Cordyceps lived several months longer than mice given a placebo (16).
Another study found that Cordyceps extended the lives of fruit flies, further supporting the belief that they have anti-aging benefits.
3. Potential anti-tumor effects.
Cordyceps’ potential to slow the growth of tumors has generated significant interest in recent years.
Researchers believe the fungi may exert anti-tumor effects in several ways:
Cordyceps may also reverse the side effects associated with many forms of cancer therapy. One of these side effects is leukopenia.
Not to be confused with the cancer leukemia, leukopenia is a condition in which the number of white blood cells (leukocytes) decreases, lowering the body’s defenses and increasing the risk of infection.
One study tested the effects of Cordyceps on mice that developed leukopenia after radiation and treatments with Taxol, a common chemotherapy drug.
Interestingly, Cordyceps reversed leukopenia in mice, restoring immune function and buffering their defenses. These results suggest the fungi may help reduce complications associated with some cancer treatments.
However, it’s important to note that these studies were performed in animals and test tubes, not humans.
The effects of Cordyceps on leukopenia and tumor growth in humans are unknown, so health experts can’t currently draw conclusions.
4. Resets your biological clock.
If you have trouble waking up in the morning, and feel groggy, moody, and foggy when you do, we recommend adding Cordyceps to your morning routine.
Cordycepin, the gold-star bioactive compound in Cordyceps, resets your biological clock at the cellular level by influencing the transcription of clock genes. This helps restore your natural biological processes' internal clock to support energy, metabolism, mood, cognition, libido, sleep, recovery, and immunity.
You see, circadian rhythms run on 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock. While the sleep-wake cycle is one of the most prominent circadian rhythms, these 24-hour internal clocks play a vital role in virtually all systems of the body.
These circadian rhythms are connected to a master clock, sometimes referred to as the circadian pacemaker, located in the brain. Specifically, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus. At different times of the day, clock genes in the SCN send signals to regulate activity throughout the body.
Because the SCN is highly sensitive to light, which serves as a critical external cue, decreased sunlight during the winter can disrupt the timing of these processes.
Cordycepin binds with enzymes in your body that influence the transcription of clock genes. These genes are turned "on" and "off" as your body goes through its 24-hour cycles. Think of Cordycepin is the key that "unlocks" the ability to transcribe those genes. Once that happens, a new oscillation (or a cycle of 24 hours) begins.
The clock is reset.
In a 2020 study, researchers found that Cordycepin rapidly reduced the duration of jet-lag recovery in mice by penetrating the blood-brain barrier and re-aligning the circadian rhythms. They also reproduced these effects in human cells.
5. Improves libido and fertility in men and women.
Clinical studies performed on the Cs-4® extract found that Cordyceps has the ability to modulate various physiological pathways that impact both male and female sexual dysfunction. Its efficacy lies in its unique and bioactive pharmacological profile, which we cover in a detailed article on how Cordyceps improves libido and fertility.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers gave the Cs-4® Cordyceps extract to 40 elderly patients suffering from sexual dysfunction. Over 86% of the women in the Cs-4® group significantly improved both hyposexuality signs and symptoms — in just 40 days.
In a similar study of 189 subjects with decreased sex drive, this time including both women and men, 66% of participants experienced improved symptoms — again, in just 40 days.
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