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< class="article__title title"> Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits: 7 Science-Backed Benefits, Side Effects, and Usages>
Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits: 7 Science-Backed Benefits, Side Effects, and Usages
Jan 10, 22
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits: 7 Science-Backed Benefits, Side Effects, and Usages

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Cordyceps mushroom is an important component of Traditional Chinese medicine, widely popular for its various health benefits. The cordyceps mushroom benefitsare backed by scientific evidence, although most of the cordyceps extract experiments and studies were performed on animal models or in vitro. 

The scientific evidence, however, is vast and the use of the cordycepts mushrooms has shown great promise. Due to this, cordyceps mushroom products, specifically two species of mushrooms, have become an active ingredient in many dietary supplements. 

If you are still wondering what is cordyceps, you are not alone. In most parts of the world, very few people use this type of mushroom regularly. Cordyceps mushrooms are also known as Himalayan gold as they grow on the plateaus of the Himalayas and are an expensive medicinal mushroom. 

The mushroom usually grows as a parasite on the head of Lepidoptera moth caterpillars that are found naturally in these Himalayan plateaus. It also grows on different insects and spiders, feeding off of the organism and mummifying it in the process. The mushroom then causes these zombie insects and spiders to move to low-growing plants and trees which have the ideal conditions for the fungus to grow. 

Due to the costly nature of the mushroom, it is worth mentioning that the dietary supplements often consumed in the West do not contain cordyceps fungus extract. Instead, the cordyceps powder and supplements are made from an engineered fungal culture that can produce the Cordyceps Militaris benefits and Cordyceps Sinensis benefits without ever producing the mushroom itself. It helps increase the cordyceps benefit and performance of the fungi supplements without them costing a lot of money. 

Cordyceps Benefits: How Does Cordycep Mushroom Benefit Your Health?

The benefits of cordyceps are numerous. The Cordyceps mushrooms can help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Asthma
  • Arrhythmia
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Cancer
  • Improving athletic abilities 
  • Libido 
  • Age-related changes

1. Mushroom Cordyceps Fights Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory properties of the cordyceps mushrooms(1) are well-known and it is these properties that increased the popularity of the ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. According to several different studies that have been used to prove that fighting inflammation is one of the cordyceps mushrooms benefits, the consumption of cordycep mushrooms results in the suppression of different inflammation-producing proteins in the body. 

The anti-inflammatory or modulatory effects of the mushroom were especially exaggerated in macrophages, special cells in the immune system of the body responsible for finding and engulfing foreign particles. However, a different study found that these effects are not as pronounced as the current anti-inflammatory medications. This suggests that fighting inflammation is one of those benefits of cordyceps mushroom that may not be too impactful on people with serious cases of inflammation. However, the medicinal mushrooms can still be used as they also have lesser side effects when compared to any pharmaceutical medication or product designed for use by people with inflammation issues. 

Due to the cordyceps militaris benefits on inflammation, the cordyceps supplement became widely used in anti-inflammatory supplements. In an animal study performed on mice, it was found that the cordiceps mushroom can reduce inflammation in the bronchial pathways of mice with asthma. This points toward the potential use of cordyseps mushrooms in the treatment of asthma or at least, the management of an asthma attack. 

Apart from reducing inflammation on the inside, the cordyceps benefit also includes topical anti-inflammatory effects. Using the mushrooms topically can help reduce inflammation in the applied area as proven by a study performed on animal models(2). The mice studied in the experiment were given a topical dose of cordyceps mushroom for their inflammation and they showed a significant improvement by the end of the study. 

2. Improves Cardiovascular Health

One of the most vital cordycep benefits is its ability to improve heart health. Cordyceps mushrooms are rich in adenosine, a component crucial for proper heart health. 

The high adenosine content of the mushroom is helpful as the compound dilates blood vessels to ensure proper blood flow through the coronary arteries. In addition to improving proper blood flow, this is one of the few cordyceps health benefits that result in improved heart rate and contractility of the heart, which overall, has a cardioprotective effect on the body(3)

Health authorities in China have approved the use of cordyceps mushrooms for the treatment of arrhythmias due to the effects of the mushroom on cardiac health. These effects are further supported by a study performed on animal models with kidney injury. 

The use of cordycepts mushroom in these mice showed a reduced incidence of heart injuries which are usually seen with kidney injuries. These cardiac injuries usually increase the risk of developing heart failure, hence, it can be concluded that the use of cordycep prevents the development of heart failure in those with chronic kidney disease.

Mushrooms cordyceps also improve cardiac health, indirectly, by affecting the levels of triglycerides and harmful cholesterol in the body. In mice, cordyseps mushroom significantly decreased the levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream while also decreasing LDL, the bad cholesterol. Accumulation of both in the blood vessels can decrease the blood flow to the respective organ, resulting in further health complications. 

3. May Help Lower Blood Pressure

The benefits of cordyceps mushrooms also include anti-hypertensive properties. These properties of the medicinal mushroom further promote the cardioprotective properties of the mushroom—they make the cordycep mushroom benefits for heart health even more pronounced. 

In traditional medicine, these health benefits cordyceps provide have been used as a means of lowering blood pressure which is the effect of the compound known as cordycepin. The effects of cordycepin are similar to adenosine, which results in improved contractility of the heart and dilation of the blood vessels. 

This, in turn, helps with better blood flow, which essentially reduces the pressure put on your heart to pump blood throughout the body. Since the heart doesn’t have to work too hard, it retains optimal health. 

Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of the cordyceps mushrooms help lower blood pressure in the body, along with the antioxidants produced with the consumption of the mushroom. The mushroom cordyceps benefits that allow the cordiceps mushroom to dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow through the body is what contributes to the aphrodisiac effect of the cordyceps. 

In Chinese medicine, the mushroom has been commonly used as a means of  increasing libido and improving sexual function. The cordycepts benefits result in increased blood flow with the result being noticed in the penile region—this results in an erection. This is why the cordyceps sinensis benefits are also used for the management of erectile dysfunction. As a natural way of managing erectile dysfunction, Cordyceps is usually considered a better solution than using pharmaceutical drugs. 

4. Beneficial In Blood Sugar Management

The health benefits of cordyceps play a key role in the management of diabetes and high blood sugar levels. Cordyceps supplements have specific sugar components and proteins that mimic the action of insulin in the body. 

Type 2 diabetes mellitus develops as a result of decreased levels of insulin in the body which further causes increased blood sugar in the bloodstream and decreased uptake of glucose by cells. As one of the organic cordyceps mushroom benefits involves cordyceps mimicking the actions of insulin in adults with type 2 diabetes, it promotes the uptake of glucose by peripheral cells, resulting in significantly low blood sugar levels—this helps with the management of the disease. 

In a study performed on the animal models to determine what is cordyceps good for when it comes to diabetes, it was found that the medicinal mushroom significantly lowered the blood sugar levels in the mice. A similar study, also performed on animal models, showed that the use of cordeceps mushroom could also reduce the risk of developing complications of diabetes mellitus type 2, such as kidney disease. 

A review performed on 22 different studies(4) showed that 1,746 people suffering from chronic kidney disease saw a significant improvement in their kidney function after the consumption of supplements containing cordyceps as their primary ingredients. 

5. Potential To Fight Tumor Cells

While this vital benefit of cordyceps is still not fully proven, research into the herbs' capabilities shows that the mushroom may help with the treatment and protection against tumors. The anti-tumor properties(5) of the cordyceps mushroom are being studied currently as they show great promise and can be the next breakthrough in the field of medicine. 

The cordyceps fungus benefits have been shown to inhibit or stop the growth of cancer cells in different organs in the body such as the lungs, colon, skin, and liver(6). In the studies, the cordyceps mushroom supplement benefits on cancer show that the fungus doesn’t just attack one specific type of cancer cells but multiple different types of cancer cells, inhibiting their growth and reducing the incidence of cancer drastically. 

The anti-tumor cordyceps extract benefits are especially of interest concerning specific cancers such as melanoma and lymphomas. Multiple animal studies have shown that the mushroom has an inhibitory effect on the growth of these cancers specifically. Furthermore, the fungus can reverse the side effects of chemotherapy, specifically, leukopenia(7)

If you are still trying to figure out what does cordyceps help with when it comes to fighting cancer, you should note that not only does the mushroom stop the growth of tumors, but it also combats the side effects of the cancer treatment, further increasing the interest in this compound in cancer research. 

In a study(8) performed on animal models, cordyceps was given to mice that were treated with radiation and Taxol, a common chemotherapeutic agent. Leukopenia that developed as a result of the treatment modalities showed a marked improvement after the use of cordyceps. 

6. Increases Athletic Abilities

If you are into athletics and are not sure what are the benefits of taking Cordyceps, you should consider taking the fungi for its ability to improve athletic capabilities. Cordyceps mushroom benefits also include increased athletic abilities which are a result of improved endurance. 

The fungus increases the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the energy currency of the human body. This explains the increased energy seen after the use of cordyceps supplements. 

The ATP produced not only acts as the source of energy but also improves the way the body uses oxygen during exercise and physical training. Taking Cordyceps pre-workout has a positive effect on the stamina of athletes and bodybuilders, hence explaining the rising popularity of the fungus amongst this population. 

Several studies have been performed to show the impact that cordyceps mushrooms have on athletic capabilities. All of these studies have produced very positive results. 

One interventional study conducted on 30 healthy, adult males to determine the cordyceps capsules benefits divided the participants into two different groups; the interventional group and the placebo group. The former was given 3mg of a synthetic strain of cordyceps and the latter was given placebo pills, for six weeks. 

The participants were required to use stationary bikes and their VO2, a marker of fitness level was measured. By the end of the study, the interventional group showed a significant increase in VO2 hence supporting the use of the fungus to improve athletic abilities. 

7. Restores Ageing Associated Changes

Most adults often want an answer to the question, "what does cordyceps do for aging?" In traditional medicine, fatigue, and decreased strength of the elderly were combated with the use of the cordyceps mushrooms. Researchers now believe that these effects may be more than just placebo effects, and may arise as a result of the antioxidant properties of the fungus.

In a study performed on animal models(9), elderly mice were given cordyceps which resulted in a drastic improvement in memory and sexual health. These effects were seen as a consequence of increased antioxidants in the body of the elderly mice. 

Aging causes physiological changes that are worsened by free radicals which are components that are free to take part in harmful chemical reactions in the body. Antioxidants fight these free radicals and reduce their levels in the body, hence having an anti-aging effect on the body. 

What Are Cordyceps Side Effects?

What Are Cordyceps Side Effects?

While benefits of cordyceps are numerous and extremely vital for the health of a human being, you should talk to a health practitioner before taking Cordyceps. It is worth noting that cordyceps mushroom has very minimal side effects—however, a health professional should help you determine the ideal dosage that will give you all the health benefits of cordyceps mushrooms without hurting your well-being.

Cordyceps mushrooms are all-natural components of traditional medicine that are widely used for their energy enhancing and memory improving functions. They are generally safe for human consumption and are classified as safe natural drugs when taken in non-toxic amounts. Some common side-effects associated with the use of Cordyceps mushroom are:

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth 
  • Slows the clotting of blood (people with bleeding disorders are particularly at risk)
  • May increase the symptoms of autoimmune disease
  • Can increase the levels of sex hormones
  • May decrease blood sugar levels leading to hypoglycemia

These side effects, however, are extremely rare and will only show if cordyceps mushrooms are taken in extremely high dosages. Taking an ideal cordyceps dosage can help you avoid these side effects. 

What Are Cordyceps Uses?

Cordyceps mushrooms can be consumed in the form of tea. This is one of the oldest and most traditional methods of incorporating the mushroom into your daily life.

The mushroom can also be taken as a health supplement in the form of capsules. For mild to moderate immune support, you can take up to two capsules in the morning and evening. You can increase it to 3 capsules if it is being taken for specific immune-suppressed conditions.

A spoonful of Cordyceps mushroom powder can be added to your favorite recipes.

Cordyceps mushroom is also available as tinctures. You can take 1/3 to 1 dropper daily to enjoy its benefits. The tincture can be taken directly or added to water, tea, coffee, or juice

What Is An Appropriate Cordyceps Dosage?

It is recommended to start with 2mg of cordyceps as the initial dose and continue with the same dose as a maintenance dose if the expected results are achieved. Taking 2 mg of cordyceps mushrooms regularly is necessary to receive maximal benefits. 

Final Thoughts

Cordyceps mushrooms, also known as Himalayan gold, are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. They are also widely popular due to their medical benefits, all of which are backed by scientific evidence in the form of animal and in vitro studies. 

The anti-tumor properties of the fungus are currently of the highest interest in the field of medical research as the compound not only prevents cancer growth but also manages the side effects of the treatment of cancer. 

Given its safety and lack of reported toxicities, the use of the medicinal mushroom as a dietary supplement is also widely supported. However, it is important to not cross the daily limit of 3000mg when consuming the supplements.

References

  1. Ng, T. B., & Wang, H. X. (2005). Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine.The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology,57(12), 1509–1519. (1) https://doi.org/10.1211/jpp.57.12.0001 
  2. Won, S.-Y., & Park, E.-H. (2005). Anti-inflammatory and related pharmacological activities of cultured mycelia and fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris.Journal of Ethnopharmacology,96(3), 555–561. (2) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2004.10.009 
  3. Yan, X. F., Zhang, Z. M., Yao, H. Y., Guan, Y., Zhu, J. P., Zhang, L. H., Jia, Y. L., & Wang, R. W. (2013). Cardiovascular protection and antioxidant activity of the extracts from the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis act partially via adenosine receptors.Phytotherapy research : PTR,27(11), 1597–1604. (3) https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.4899 
  4. Zhang, H. W., Lin, Z. X., Tung, Y. S., Kwan, T. H., Mok, C. K., Leung, C., & Chan, L. S. (2014). Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease.The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (12), CD008353. (4) https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD008353.pub2 
  5. Bizarro, A., Ferreira, I. C., Soković, M., van Griensven, L. J., Sousa, D., Vasconcelos, M. H., & Lima, R. T. (2015). Cordyceps militaris (L.) Link Fruiting Body Reduces the Growth of a Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cell Line by Increasing Cellular Levels of p53 and p21.Molecules (Basel, Switzerland),20(8), 13927–13940. (5) https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules200813927 
  6. Yan, X. F., Zhang, Z. M., Yao, H. Y., Guan, Y., Zhu, J. P., Zhang, L. H., Jia, Y. L., & Wang, R. W. (2013). Cardiovascular protection and antioxidant activity of the extracts from the mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis act partially via adenosine receptors.Phytotherapy research : PTR,27(11), 1597–1604. (6) https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.4899 
  7. Liu, W. C., Chuang, W. L., Tsai, M. L., Hong, J. H., McBride, W. H., & Chiang, C. S. (2008). Cordyceps sinensis health supplement enhances recovery from taxol-induced leukopenia.Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.),233(4), 447–455. (7) https://doi.org/10.3181/0708-RM-230 
  8. Liu, W. C., Chuang, W. L., Tsai, M. L., Hong, J. H., McBride, W. H., & Chiang, C. S. (2008). Cordyceps sinensis health supplement enhances recovery from taxol-induced leukopenia.Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.),233(4), 447–455. (8) https://doi.org/10.3181/0708-RM-230 
  9. Pohsa, S., Hanchang, W., Singpoonga, N., Chaiprasart, P., & Taepavarapruk, P. (2020). Effects of Cultured Cordycep militaris on Sexual Performance and Erectile Function in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Male Rats.BioMed research international,2020, 4198397. (9) https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/4198397
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