Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis, Ophiocordyceps sinensis) – belongs to one of the most interesting species of the fungal kindgom. The mushroom occurs naturally in the Tibetan Plateau at an altitude of 3000-5000 meters above sea level. Cordyceps feeds off the larvae of moths from the Thitarodes family, which inhabits the underground at this stage. The fungus enters the body of the larvae, mummifies and fructifies it, then grows out of the ground. For centuries in the Far East, it has been prepared in the form of a hot brew meant to reinvigorate and revitalize, strengthen the body, and increase libido.
Cordyceps has many various effects. It stimulates the immune system, combats neoplasma, diabetes, and has aphrodysiac qualities. It strengthens and energizes the body, and can lower stress levels and fatigue when taken regularly. The fungus increases physical fitness, and also helps treat sexual disfunctions (i.e. Erectile disfunction). Cordyceps also increases libido in women. The polysaccharides contained within the fungus speed up detoxification processes of the body, have antioxidant effects, and help strengthen the immune system.4
Cordyceps increases physical fitness, energizes, and has a positive effect on our mental well-being. Some claim to experience an increased clarity in perception after ingesting the mushroom- colors become more vibrant, and thoughts seem to flow with crystal clarity.5
The results of certain studies suggest that C. sinensis causes a similar effect as anti-depressant medication, and probably acts on the same membrane receptors.5 Cordyceps also reduces biochemical markers of stress.
Traditionally, Cordyceps has been used in the treatment of sexual disfunctions and for improving fertility. Studies have shown a significant increase in the concentration of testosterone and nitric oxide (NO), which expands the arteries and increases blood flow. It has been suggested that cordycepin increases activation of cAMP and StAR protein in Leydig cells, stimulating them to synthesize testosterone.3 The increase of nitric oxide synthesis leads to a vasorelaxing effect- this mechanism is analogous to the effects of Viagra.5
Caffeine (A2a antagonism) reduces the positive effects of cordyceps on testosterone synthesis.3
Thanks to the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects, Cordyceps has a protective effect on nerve cells.6 Cordycepin, regarded as an adenosine analog, affects multiple signaling functions in the nervous system. Adenosine plays a key protective role in hypoxia, ischemia and oxidative stress of cells – it activates the appropriate enzymes and proteins, i.e. Superoxide dismutase.5
Cordyceps has anti-inflammatory effects, stimulates the immune system and has an activating effect on macrophages and cytokine expression.6,7 Anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects have also been observed. Additionally, more and more studies suggest the anti-neoplasmic effects of Cordyceps.1,2,6
Cordycepin- a compound in the fungus, has an inhibiting effect on the increase and division of cancer cells. The exact mechanism of cordycepin is not entirely known, but studies suggest that it causes an anti-proliferating effect through the blocking of adenosine receptors and the induction of cancer cell apoptosis. An increased survival rate of patients treated with extracts from C. sinensis may also be associated with induction of a particular immune response.5
1-3g per day – in one or more portions, to be taken with a meal.
No toxic effects of Cordyceps have been observed even at very high doses. Studies on the fungus have administered up to 80g/kg of body mass on rabbits for 3 months.5
Some people may experience diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth.
1. Buenz, E. J., Bauer, B. A., Osmundson, T. W., and Motley, T. J. (2005). The traditional Chinese medicine Cordyceps sinensis and its effects on apoptotic homeostasis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96, 19-29.
2. Chen, P. X., Wang, S., Nie, S., and Marcone, M. (2013). Properties of Cordyceps Sinensis: A review. Journal of Functional Foods 5, 550-569.
3. Leu, S.-F., Poon, S. L., Pao, H.-Y., and Huang, B.-M. (2011). The in vivo and in vitro stimulatory effects of cordycepin on mouse leydig cell steroidogenesis. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 75, 723-31.
4. Liu, Y., Wang, J., Wang, W., Zhang, H., Zhang, X., and Han, C. (2015). The chemical constituents and pharmacological actions of Cordyceps sinensis. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015.
5. Karpińska, E., (2011). Biostymulujące właściwości entomopatogenicznych grzybów z rodzaju Cordyceps. Postępy Fitoterapii 4/2011, s. 254-264
6. Ng, T. B., and Wang, H. X. (2005). Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine. The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology 57, 1509-19.
7. Yang, M. L., Kuo, P. C., Hwang, T. L., and Wu, T. S. (2011). Anti-inflammatory principles from Cordyceps sinensis. Journal of Natural Products 74, 1996-2000.
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