The high altitude village of North Sikkim contains medical volumes dating back thousands of years which detail herbal remedies using local flora and fungi. One fungus is known as cordyceps, or Cordyceps sinensis. But what is cordyceps really? Read on to learn more about the history, sourcing, and potential benefits of this strange, yet powerful mountain mushroom.
Cordyceps is a rare, parasitic fungus that invades its host before planting itself in the high mountain grounds in which it thrives. Ancient healers believed that this mushroom held the power to balance the blood, enhance sleep quality, support the immune system, boost libido, ward of the growth of cancerous cells, and more.
The History of Cordyceps
Eastern Tibetan folklore tells us that cordyceps was discovered by yak herdsmen in the Himalayas who observed an unusual vigor in their animals after grazing upon cordyceps mushrooms. Ancient healers in China also used this mushroom in a tonic which was served the emperor, who held cordyceps in high esteem for healing and rejuvenation. Although the cordyceps mushroom was widely used thousands of years ago, it has only once again come into popular use.
One of the reasons for its return occurred in 1993 when two female runners out of China smashed world records at the Stuttgart World Championships. They attributed some of their success to the use of cordyceps supplements. Drug tests revealed that cordyceps was and continues to be a safe and legal substance for competitive athletes to use.
Growth and Harvesting of Cordyceps
The name cordyceps actually refers to a family of mushrooms which contains more than 400 specific species of ascomycota, or sac fungi. As we mentioned above, cordyceps is a parasitic fungus which begins its life on the backs of caterpillars. Slowly it begins to grow on the insect, taking over its body until eventually the caterpillar dies, and the fungus plants itself in the ground. The entire plant is then harvested, bug and all, and used for medicinal supplement use. If this grosses you out, don’t worry, most of today’s commercially available cordyceps have been cultured in a lab and are caterpillar free.
The Potential Benefits of Taking Cordyceps Supplements
What is cordyceps in regards to its potential health benefits? There’s a reason that this rare fungus has historical staying power, as its list of potential benefits is impressive. In addition to promoting athletic performance, research shows that using cordyceps can slow the effects of aging in the brain, bloodstream, libido, and cellular changes.
Studies out of China suggest that the way in which cordyceps acts on adenosine receptors may be associated with deeper and more restful sleep. Additionally, cordyceps has been shown to benefit the immune system as well as support liver health. Finally, years of anecdotal and recent scientific evidence center around using cordyceps to balance cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels already within the normal range. These potential benefits are only a few of the reasons you may want to consider integrating this exotic mushroom into your supplement routine.
Take a Look at These Cordyceps Products
Are you still wondering: What is cordyceps? Why not try it for yourself! Check out these top-quality products available from Natural Healthy Concepts.
Health Guard Cordyceps from Pure Essence Labs is is a dietary supplement containing 1000 mg of organic cordyceps extract per serving. Each capsule is rich in beta-glucans, and provides a full spectrum of phytochemical nutrients and more.
Mushrooms + Herbs Cordyceps + from Gaia Herbs supports the body’s ability to manage fatigue by uniquely combining two of the best-known adaptogens, cordyceps and ashwagandha. It also contains fermented ginger root as a warming herb that acts as a bioenhancer.
AdrenaVen from Premier Research Labs is a dietary supplement with cordyceps, herbs, and more for optimal adrenal and stress support.
Have you experienced the exotic potential benefits of cordyceps? We would love to read your experiences and questions in the comments section below.