Cordyceps has an unsavory reputation among people unfamiliar with it, but its health benefits have been the subject of several studies. One particular research, for instance, found that it can enhance your tolerance to high-intensity workouts, allowing you to do more and gain more from physical activity.
In the study, the researchers compared the effects of short-term and long-term supplementation with a mushroom blend that contained Cordyceps militaris. The inquiry – a randomized, repeated measure, double-blind, placebo-controlled study – involved 28 individuals.
For a week, the participants supplemented with either 4 g/day of the mushroom blend or maltodextrin, a placebo. Ten of the participants were required to supplement for another two weeks. During exercise tests, those who supplemented short-term (one week) demonstrated notable improvement in terms of endurance, but not so much in other areas.
On the other hand, those who supplemented long-term (three weeks) showed significant improvements in all areas measured, including power output, oxygen consumption, and endurance. These effects were not noted in the participants who took the placebo.
Because of these findings, the researchers concluded that while short-term supplementation with a mushroom blend containing cordyceps may improve exercise performance, long-term supplementation results in more pronounced benefits.
The study was published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
Fast facts about cordyceps
Cordyceps militaris is a type of mushroom commonly found in China. Much of its unsavory reputation comes from its manner of reproduction in nature. Like other species in its genus, it invades the body of small animals, usually butterfly or moth larva or pupa. It then mummifies the still-living animal and keeps it alive just long enough for it to generate a mushroom, which then spreads its spores so it can reproduce – and infect other caterpillars.
A related and just-as-interesting species, Cordyceps lloydii, invades the body of living ants and mind-controls them to climb to leaves at the top of trees. Once there, the mushroom erupts from the insect’s head or body to spread its spores to the wind. This particular species is common in Costa Rica.
If this has you doubting your decision to get cordyceps supplements, don’t worry. Natural cordyceps (the bug-killing kind) is rare and can be pricey, so the mushrooms that are used to produce supplements are usually grown on rice.
And that’s a good thing, too, because deciding against cordyceps means you miss out on these health benefits:
- It has anti-aging properties – Studies have found that cordyceps can increase the antioxidant levels in mice. Its anti-aging effects are more than just skin-deep. In traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps are valued for their ability to boost strength, memory, and even sexual drive.
- It fights tumors – A number of test tube and animal studies have pointed to cordyceps’ ability to inhibit the growth of many types of cancer, including lymphoma, melanoma, and lung cancer. Furthermore, the mushroom was also shown to have the ability to reverse leukopenia, a side effect of cancer therapy that causes the number of white blood cells to decrease. Leukopenia weakens the immunity of cancer patients, making them more prone to normally simple diseases.
- It helps fight Type 2 diabetes – People with Type 2 diabetes do not respond well to insulin, the hormone that transports the glucose from food to the cells. Cordyceps contains a special compound that imitates the action of insulin. Moreover, the mushroom is often linked to improvements in kidney health. The kidneys, as it happens, are among the first organs that are negatively affected by uncontrolled diabetes.
- It’s good for the heart – Studies on rats link cordyceps to reductions in heart injuries. Other studies concluded that the mushroom could help lower the levels of bad fats and cholesterol in the blood, contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system.
- It fights inflammation – Cordyceps, according to some studies, have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. It has been shown to relieve inflammation in the airways of rats, indicating a possible application as a treatment for asthma. It may even be applied topically to treat inflamed areas on the skin and other parts of the body.
Discover the uses of cordyceps in Traditional Chinese Medicine at ChineseMedicine.news.