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In today's podcast Mason welcomes good friend and functional naturopath, Dan Sipple, back to the mic. The gents wax lyrical on the many medicinal wonders of Cordyceps, a revered Taoist tonic herb and potent adaptogenic powerhouse.
The guys explore:
- Cordyceps as a Qi tonic.
- Cordyceps and autoimmunity.
- The clinical use of Cordyceps.
- Cordyceps as a potent 'Jing' herb.
- The interesting history of Cordyceps.
- *The cultivated form of Cordyceps, Cs-4.
- The Yin and Yang balancing action of Cordyceps.
- Using Cordyceps for fertility in both women and men.
- The benefits of Cordyceps in cases of Epstein Barr Virus.
- The benefits of Cordyceps for the young and young at heart.
- The use of Cordyceps in hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- The importance of circulation in overall body health and how Cordyceps assists here.
We use a pure mycelium product called Cs-4 for our SuperFeast Cordyceps. This is a cultivated strain of Ophiocordyceps sinensis formerly known as Cordyceps sinensis. You can read more about why we use this strain on our FAQ page. There are several members of the Cordyceps family such as Cordyceps Militaris which contains the active constituent cordycepin. SuperFeast Cordyceps CS-4 primarily contains cordyceptic acid (7%), and adenosine (0.3%). These constituents are responsible for Cordyceps anti-inflammatory, immunological, energy producing, and antioxidant activities.
Who is Dan Sipple?
Dan is a also known as The Functional Naturopath who uses cutting-edge evidence-based medicine. Experienced in modalities such as herbal nutritional medicine, with a strong focus on environmental health and longevity, Dan has a wealth of knowledge in root-dysfunction health.
Check Out The Transcript Below:
Mason: Hey everybody, welcome back to the podcast, and welcome to my friend Dan Sipple. How you going, man?
Dan: I'm doing well, my friend. And yourself?
Mason: Yeah, wonderful. We're going to be jumping down the mycelial rabbit hole talking about cordyceps today, the caterpillar fungus. You've been hitting the cordyceps. You hit me up a couple months ago. You've been getting into it.
Dan: I did, mate. I've been rocking it absolutely hardcore. Cordyceps is probably the first one I started with, a while ago now. I think back in the market days, and I remember doing some with BioCeuticals, who I'm sure a lot of listeners are familiar with, who were bringing out a mushroom product at the time. I did a little stint of work there. And going down the cordyceps rabbit hole, it's one of the first medicinal mushrooms that really grabbed me. Mate, I've loved it ever since. It's up there with my favorite mushrooms. I've been counting down the days to do this podcast, so I'm excited.
Mason: What grabbed you about it in particular? Obviously you might have clinical things that grab you about its usefulness, but more just for your own sake, because you got into it when you weren't necessarily sick. For you personally, what's drawn you to it?
Dan: Good question. I think the thing about cordyceps for me was at the time when I discovered it I was still struggling a little bit with some autoimmunity and still had a positive ANA reading, which just stands for antinuclear antibody. So being a young naturopathic student I sort of dived down the rabbit hole of research and tried to work out what from the fungal kingdom and the herbal kingdom abroad could start to attenuate those antibodies, so in other words just reduce the autoimmune attack.
Dan: Yeah, and cordyceps was the one that had the most research behind it, and it was actually the one that my integrative doctor at the time was researching as it so happened as well. We've got a lot of research out of China to say that this can be used in both immunodeficient conditions as well as autoimmune conditions. I don't think you've got much to lose by trying it and high dosing it. So sure enough, six weeks later I had kind of like a baseline reading of those bloods, and said let's rock it for six weeks. Let's test again and see where we're at. And sure enough, we started seeing those dropped down.
Dan: Yeah, that one kind of really impressed me, and that's the one that I probably would say I tend to use the most clinically as well. There's other herbs that you could definitely pair up and do it along side. Astragalus is one. But cordyceps above the others I think for that specific sort of really, really tapped out immune deficiency, but it's still got some autoimmunity activity happening at the same time.
Mason: Yeah, I remember two years ago I went and saw Christopher Hobbs, and we've talked about him quite a bit. Anyone who's listening to the podcast, his book Medicinal Mushrooms should be in your library by now. If not, if you're just hearing me mention it, that's one of the books if you asked me, "Hey, what are some books if I want to dive deeper into medicinal mushrooms and cordyceps and all these mushies," he wrote that in 1986. The wave might be breaking on the trendiness, but it was cordyceps first comes up in the Divine Farmer's Materia Medica around 200 B.C. So it's been millennia. Christopher Hobbs in the Western sense, and [inaudible 00:02:53] all the scientific data, brought it out in 1986. And he at that time had a bunch of data pointing to the fact ... And when I saw him two years ago he still had the same opinion that autoimmunity, that's the one that he'll go to no matter the condition as well. He's a real grounded herbalist. He's just like, "If you're kind of like just flying by the seam of your pants with autoimmunity, cordyceps is probably the one that I would tell you to be using."
Mason: Again, of course, that makes sense. And then you go a little bit further in terms of what you're actually going to be looking at. Where it's famed in a tonic herbal sense, you're going to be looking at the kidney Jing. One of the things that always drew me to cordyceps, despite the fact that its image is one of athleticism, of yang, of producing more sperm. And I'll go over these as we move through the podcast a little bit. But its key energetic function seems to be the balancing of yin and yang in the body. I focus on tonic herbs. These tonics, ideally you're going to be able to keep in the diet on rotation, in a sense, long-term.
Mason: And most real practical physicians will even say cordyceps because it is having that balancing of yin and yang. It's one of those ones even with people who are a little bit more clinical, standoffish towards tonic herbalism, will be like, "Yeah, cordyceps is one that I don't mind seeing people take long-term, that I take long-term." And that's absolute magic. I mean, it's something people can feel. "I'm bringing too much yin into my body, too many yin practices," too much accumulating and gathering of energy within stillness, or you can feel like if you're just hitting non-stop deer antler and [yukomiabach 00:04:24], especially deer antler, yukomia buck. But so much people, their mentality can go, "Maybe I've hit the yang a little bit too hard." They're not integrating their testosterone. They're not having creative outlets to use that testosterone. It's all getting a bit of a bottle cap. So there's too much outward energy, too much growing energy.
Mason: But cordyceps is bringing that balancing while also kind of leaning over towards that beautiful stuff that we want from the yang Jing tonics like strengthening the lower back, strengthening the knees, the hips, the sexual potency, for women fertility, absolutely, but for men, building those sperm reservoirs. It's such a bloody incredible mush. That's why I started using it was more for that kidney tonification. It's a beautiful Jing tonic. But it's a bridge between the yin and the yang. And what I like as well is it's such a specialist Jing, but it's such a specialist chi tonic as well. So I can really feel that bridge between Jing and chi when I'm taking cordyceps, but it's doing for the lung ...
Mason: ... there was in our warehouse had like [inaudible 00:05:19] was kind of managed but still present. And he kind of just attribute it completely wiping out any symptoms or flare-ups of asthma to cordyceps and astragalus, that combination. And that tells you there's probably a bit of a phlegmy indication. That phlegminess was giving rise to his flare-ups. Cordyceps, yeah, it's massively tonifying lung and pulmonary function. But in clinical sense ... I'll probably just cover all my points here, Dan, and then you can have your run. Sorry for waffling. Clinically, if someone's emaciated and has a Jing deficiency they'll use it. But in a real kind of practical Western sense I think the removal of phlegm, like an excess of phlegm conditions, slightly as an expectorant, but not completely. It's just cutting through that phlegm, especially on an immunological level. And actually it's stopping bleeding. I'm so in love with this herb. I'm not going to go over everything in what we'd be using it clinically for, 'cause we'll go a little bit further. But we'll give people some context of what this parasitic mushroom is. Do you want to just start us off there in describing about cordys. I'm happy to jump in at any time as well.
Dan: Yeah, definitely. Would love to. That's what is super fascinating about this. The way it was discovered all these thousands of years ago up on the Himalayans at 14,000 feet or whatever it was. And I love that about Chinese medicine too is that it always strikes me how humans have encountered some of these herbs in the way that animals have used them first. So we know that with cordyceps these donkeys or yaks or whatever they were called were being led up to this particular region of the Himalayas at a certain time of year for feeding and riding and that sort of thing. And the farmers were noticing that they would feed on these club-like looking head things, these projections coming out of the ground.
Dan: And every season after they'd do so their behavior would change in a way that they were more aggressive and more assertive and they were mating like crazy, to the point to where the farmers were like, "There's got to be something in what they're consuming. Maybe next time when we do this expedition we should load up on these little cordyceps and see what happens." And sure enough they noticed increased endurance. All the farmers that would classically go down by the end of the expedition with colds and phlegms and flus and all that sort of stuff were just blown away by how resilient they were, to the point to where it got through all the villages all the way to the emperor to then where the emperor's like, "Whatever that is we need it in the royalty, and by the way, no one's allowed to use it. It's all going to get confiscated."
Mason: Always the bloody way, picking on the little man.
Dan: That's super, super interesting I think. It's just one of those herbs that I've really cycled on and off over the years, and sometimes I forget about it; I put it on the back burner. And it's good to cycle herbs [inaudible 00:07:51] anyway. But I never failed to be impressed by how truly adaptogenic that herb is. When you've had a good run off it and then you hit it again really hard, just noticing that Jing return. Your output is just so much more maximized. Your ability to pump oxygen around the body. Your cognition, your ability to do physical work alongside your mental output is just so much more maximized. Unlike a herb like, say, ginseng, for example. You know when you hit your quota with ginseng, if you've ever done that, Mason. I'm not sure. We've probably not talked about that much in the past, but I know I can definitely hit that point with ginseng where enough's enough; I know that it's pushing me too hard. I don't know about you.
Mason: No, I mean, what stops me taking cordyceps is I'm like, "Cool, don't really feel like it anymore." I love ginseng, but I'm wary of it. I only have it when I travel and I've got like a little anti-radiation protocol going on, and that's a part of it, and I just hit ginseng every now and then, because I really need that chi support when I travel. But cordyceps, you know what I feel sometimes, because it's such a beautiful multi-umami sweet flavor, for me anyway. I can rely on my palate to guide me, 100% of the time, when it's on and when it's not. I just smell it sometimes, and when people are like wanting to know like which herb do I take in, or "Should I take cordyceps now?" You go through all your logical processes of what it does in the body and what you're wanting to achieve. But you can just take off the lid and just have a good smell of that cordyceps. And quite often, especially when it's in autumn, even in spring when I'm really just prepping for a lot of yang energy and I want that endurance, I smell and I go, "That smells so good," and I just put a big heap teaspoon in there. It was up until the last two months I've just been, "No, not really. Not yet. Not at the moment."
Mason: And I love that. The flavor of cordyceps is absolutely incredible. I've been using it in a bunch of recipes. Lately I've just been shooting a bunch of recipes. [inaudible 00:09:41] Instagram or YouTube will pop them up soon. But it's so versatile. We're going to go through and just describe the palate and the matching. There's not much that it doesn't match with. It's almost got like a vegimite kind of twang to it. You know?
Dan: Yeah, I feel that.
Mason: Cordy is a parasitic mushroom. It's the only one of the mushrooms that we have that isn't a tree mushroom. We use a cultivated version. I'll explain that. But the wild cordyceps sinensis that you're alluding to, up in the Himalayas, south of Tibet, and in Szechuan it grows, in that province, and even Yunnan Province in China. In the high mountains basically you will see the spore of this mushroom inoculate the end of the larvae of a caterpillar, and then from there during a growing cycle it will infiltrate. And then when it comes to summer it will sprout out of one of the ends of the larvae. And as you were saying, it's got a little club, and that's how it then goes on [inaudible 00:10:32].
Mason: It's in the summer that it does that. In the winter, it's kind of more worm-like. It's down there in the worm, and it's spreading its mycelium that way as well. But that's why in China it's called winter worm, summer grass. That's what they're talking about when they're talking about caterpillar fungus or cordyceps. Now, that industry, it's such an expensive herb. And I think a lot of you have heard me talk about this a lot. It's stupid expensive. And it's something to do if you want ... We've got good superannuation, like retirement plans [inaudible 00:11:00]. That's one thing I'm going to do ... I probably didn't have quite enough coin when I went to China last time, but next time I want to save up a little bit and buy myself some really badass wild cordycep and then just stick that in a good scotch or something like that and let it sit there for like 30 years and just have a part of my herbal superannuation strategy.
Mason: But the industry is attempting to get highly-regulated. There's a lot of people going and pinching a lot of cordyceps, especially in Bhutan actually, where there's a certain amount of cordycep [inaudible 00:11:32], certain amount of cordycep harvesting quota of the total gets allocated to different families; I think it's 12 families, and that's their livelihood. And it's a good livelihood because it's such an expensive crop, that a lot of people go in and have been stealing farmers' wild cordycep lot, and it's been having a lot of impact. There's a lot of hardship around that industry, so not a sustainable wild crop.
Mason: So we had a choice of two that we can use, so what they've been able to do ... I'll explain it in ours with the one we're using the Cs-4. The other one is the cordyceps militaris that's an option and on the market and also very good. But having access to both, I've chosen Cs-4. Basically what they'll do is they'll create a big broth, and then they'll add this strain. The strain is Cs-4, and it's actually a strain derived from the original wild cordyceps, so it's the Cs cordyceps, and it's four, the fourth strain they tried. That was the one when they put it to chemical testing that its chemical makeup and its medicinal actions, more so than cordyceps militaris, still good but more unique, was the closest to the wild cordyceps, insanely close, in fact. So what they'll do is they'll put a little strip of that strain, Cs-4, into this broth, and then let that mycelium ... It's a liquid ferment so it's not been grown on grain or anything like that. But that liquid ferment grow out through the broth and consume all its goodness, and then you're left with this mycelium. And then the broth is drained, you dry the mushroom, and you dual extract it as we normally would.
Mason: That's what cordycep is. I don't think I've really missed anything. It's quite simple. It's the one thing that's not [inaudible 00:13:05]. It's the one thing that [inaudible 00:13:06] but not getting out there. It's too useful not to do it.
Dan: I think they used one of the, it's a long word, but the deoxynucleoside, which is just a constituent found in cordyceps called cordycepin. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's the one they use ... Macy might be able to talk more to this ... to kind of verify its potency. And the higher obviously that particular constituent is, the more medicinal action and the more therapeutic.
Mason: Yeah, I think it's one of those mushrooms, that's the biological active marker of the cordyceps. And maybe you were telling me how with St. John's Wort, is it there's a different active ingredient in different continents that they attribute the benefits to? There's no aggreance of where the medicinal action's coming from. Cordyceps as well as what you're talking to is the adaptogenic element. And then of course the betaglucans and the polysaccharides being the other medicinal actor. But that active ingredient, yeah. And that's one thing that's important to do, and it's what we've got going on every batch. I have to check the percentages, but we go against a modern clinical materia medica in terms of what percentage an active ingredient needs to be at to be considered a therapeutically active herb.
Mason: I don't talk about this much, but what we've got going on with every batch and every sourcing is we test to ensure that it's above that percentage, and it quite often is [inaudible 00:14:24]. But then not focusing completely on that, so we make sure that we know that by the eyes of the current pharmacological knowledge we know that it's active but then don't focus on isolating it, leave the whole herb in a full spectrum extract, because as with know, there's many things that we haven't discovered in cordyceps and all these other mushrooms that are having massive beautiful actions long-term in our body.
Mason: What was that active ingredient again? I got my tongue tied just trying to bring it out.
Mason: Such a simple one. So one of the ones it's just kind of in a blind spot. Cordycepin I'll try and see if I can find that percentage. So just keep an eye out in the notes, everybody. I'll see if I can find that biologically active percentage that you want to be looking for of that compound.
Mason: We've kind of touched on it a little bit, but let's go a little bit deeper in terms of why you'd be using this mushroom clinically. And I also love just knowing maybe demographic or stages of development or times of the year, whatever it is, that you like to see people on cordyceps, or you've noticed that you yourself like it.
Dan: Yeah, sure. I guess the first and foremost principle reason I'd bring it into the mix would be, people, as I said earlier, that do have that inflammatory kind of genotype where they may be expressing some sort of autoimmunity but at the same time still struggling to regulate immunity. I tend to see that quite a lot these days is that people seemingly have this aggressive immune system attacking them like sort of the Western understanding tends to put out. At the same time, they tend to be the same people that go down hardcore with flus, colds, sore throats, viruses, chest infections, quite often. What we see there is classic dysregulation of the helper cells of the immune system and the suppressor cells. For whatever reason the body just cannot seem to regulate and balance that ratio. That ratio we want to see in a one-to-one ratio. If you've ever done really advanced immune testing you'll see that on your blood list; look at CD4 cells or CD8 cells, which I tend to run often in my clinic as well.
Dan: What we're aiming for, as I say, is that one-to-one ratio. So you know that your brakes on your immune system so when you need to fight something generally you can. At the same time, totally raging with inflammation and attacking everything known to man. Cordyceps to my understanding is the premier herb for regulating that balance again. And again, that's the one I see way out of wack in almost every person that I tend to test for that's showing me those types of symptoms.
Dan: There's actually a really neat study done in 2016. They were using a standardized extract of cordyceps, but they recruited a whole heap of people that had thyroid conditions, so Hashimoto's as well as Graves disease. For anyone that doesn't know, Hashimoto's I a hypothyroid condition that has an autoimmune origin, and Graves is kind of the polar opposite. It's autoimmune still but you're producing too much thyroid hormone.
Mason: But it's also like hypo-underactive, hyper-overactive. And I think you're kind of pointing to the fact that when you've got hyper ... I mean, if you're a layperson, if you've got an overactive thyroid it makes things generally a little bit trickier, especially in the type of herbs and supplements you're able to add into your system.
Dan: Yeah, that's right. That is a little bit tricky. There's definitely some from the western botanical kingdom that are really therapeutic there. But this particular study was super, super promising. What they did was they got these two groups or people that had a control group. They all had the conditions; they all tested positive for these conditions, both ends of the spectrum. And they were all medicated with the mainstream pharmaceutical prescriptions for these conditions. The name of the hyperthyroid medication always escapes me. Anyway, they gave one of the groups those medications alongside cordyceps, and they ran it for five or six weeks I think it was.
Dan: What they noticed at the end of the trial was that the levels of thyroid hormone per se didn't change too much, but what did change was those exact cells I was talking about, so the helper cells and suppressor ratio, which was way out of wack when they started the trial. And what is most striking is the autoantibody levels, meaning how severe the attack was against the thyroid gland in both conditions, hypo and hyper, almost back to normal. And there's not much that does that, so that for me was just super, super reassuring.
Mason: That's insane. Okay, so let's then go into ... because quite often I think in Western medicine the correlation between the severity of the issue, the marker is the level of hormone that they're producing. Is that right? Is that what they'll test first?
Dan: Yes, they'll run the hormone levels, T3 and T4. That's what the thyroid gland itself is actively producing. They'll also run TSH, which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. So that's the pituitary signal down to the thyroid to say, "Hey, make hormone." And in hypo that's really, really high because it's screaming at the thyroid saying, "Make hormone, make hormone." Meanwhile, it's being attacked and it can't make the hormones, whereas in hyper the TSH has backed right off because the thyroid hormone's off the Richter.
Mason: Yet, those level didn't change, yet the antibody levels decreased in both situations.
Dan: Right. Which is more upstream for me, because that's the issue. It's not so much the thyroid gland; it's the autoimmunity against the thyroid gland in both conditions which is the problem. Right? So if you see that attack starting to lessen, that's pretty promising.
Mason: Does that also speak to the hormonal variation that exists in different constitutions?
Dan: Yeah, possibly. I know that some people, from my clinical perspective, I think tend to be more rigged for it based on perhaps their parents and what they've inherited, what they've been through in the early stages of life has sometimes rigged the immune system to be more flightly and more hyper. Similarly, some people have been through trauma and tragedy and lots and lots of stress, and they're more bottomed out and they're more genetically predisposed to it as well. So with autoimmune conditions we do tend to see quite a strong familial predisposition there as well. But that's not everything. The classic genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger. So just because your mom and dad's got something or your brother and your sister doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to manifest it.
Mason: Yes. You talked about ... I just wanted to throw it in there in case I forget later on. In terms of it being [inaudible 00:20:09] sharpen the mind. I just wanted to throw that in there. Naturally, if it's going to be balancing yin and yang, energetically, kidney and chemically are going to be governing brain function. If you're going to be restoring yin and yang Jing to the kidneys you're going to increase yin and yang Jing to the major organs. And the brain's expression of health is the expression of those major organs. I definitely find that my mind gets crazy sharp, really punchy, and also probably more solid I a good way to put it.
Mason: Folks, brain potency, it's interesting how brain potency can be something with so many different shades. Obviously each person's going to experience it differently. But when you're on a particular herb for a particular time and you're really feeling the heightened effect that it's giving you, especially if you're on one herb ... Cordyceps, I really feel it just pounding in strength to my mental power. And then the whole point is to take it long enough that I can embody that and then take other herbs that are going to get my mental acuity going, and then hopefully embody them, have a well-rounded brain.
Mason: Now, on bringing sharpness to the brain, please feel to speak to that, but also along with that I feel like it's a good time to [inaudible 00:21:09] in terms of its antiviral effect. Have you got any insights there on proclivity towards [inaudible 00:21:14] viral loads?
Dan: Anyone who's listened before knows that I'm pretty big on the viral-induced conditions that tend to sort of follow that. Again, cordyceps, there is research to show that it is very, very strong, and quite up there with reishi I would say in its anti-EBV, in addition to a heap of other viruses that it's been tested in vitro and vivo studies for. So for anyone listening, if they're keen for me to send on these studies or maybe we can put them in the show notes?
Dan: Yeah, definitely. That's, again, why I do love it because you're knocking out inflammation. You're boosting stamina, libido, and function. And you've got the anti-pathogenic potential there as well. That trio is really what you want in a herb. If you can tune in to different herbs and just do them on their own. So do a month on astragalus and then have a little break, and then do a month on cordyceps. It gets hard doing a million different things, and you're taking a little bit of everything.
Mason: We talk about this a lot as well. Sorry to speak over you. I'll let you go [inaudible 00:22:06]. You're talking about really going a solo herb, and I like that. It's kind of what we learn from Sajah Popham. [inaudible 00:22:13] say his name, and everyone's like, "What the hell did you just say?" Saja, S-A-J-A-H, S-A-J-A-H, Popham. He's a beautiful herbalist. We'll put a link to his work down below. We'll have to get him into the podcast soon. I think we spoke about that, right?
Mason: Now, just taking one herb, this is at the point where you're feeling a lot of space with your health and you're not sure where to take your herbal practice. Quite often where you will go if you feel you have space, you go to just spending time with one herb and really starting to understand its personality, energetics, and effects. If you're not at that point and you're still needing to get yourself back into balance and feeling like you're able to thrive, that's where you might be taking one, two, or three herbs. It's like, well, how many is too many? Too many is when you stop being able to feel your intent with each blend or herb. You can mix three blends, because they're energetically solo, together. But then once you maybe go to the fourth you go, "Okay, hang on." It's ambiguity that you want to pluck away. Any ambiguity in your approach and just throwing as many darts at the board and hoping one sticks, that's when it's time to back off, go a little bit slower so you go faster. I just wanted to throw that in there.
Dan: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. It's the whole of if you're not feeling it, drop it. If you're not feeling the herbs or you're doing too much, just stop, and bring one back in and tune in. And you'll feel it. Trust me. You'll know when it's working for you. If you can't feel it and you've got to question it and go, "Is it working? I can't really feel much," occasionally there's the thing where you need to let it build up in the system more, especially if it's early on. But if you've been on something for a while and you're not feeling it, take a break, pick one herb and role with it. Tune in.
Mason: Totally agree. Now, in terms of flu, I just want to throw in there, it's something that I know Stephen Buhner talks a lot towards backends of infection, I think especially when the retrovirus starts to get a little bit of a hold and is proliferating through respiratory cells at quite an alarming rate, or it's moving onto there being a lot of phlegm. I feel like there's particular instances where he will use cordyceps, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily one like reishi that I'd just be like, "Yeah, I think it's cool to go at with colds and flus." I'd like to get your two cents. I think cordyceps is quite safe, but maybe it takes a little bit more energetic insight or directional insight to what type of cold or flu it's going to be. It's warm. It's not a hot herb. It's not a cold herb. It's only slightly warm. But in saying that, do you have two cents on that?
Dan: Yeah, it's a good point because I'd say the bulk of people I work with, it's more chronic conditions. It's more chronic viral or bacterial issues. We don't have a whole heap of anecdotal input there specifically, but in saying that, I do have a blend that I use of four different mushrooms, cordyceps being one of them, that I have used and successfully mitigated acute viral scenarios. I just don't have a lot of clinical experience in that acute status. But for me, for example, I'm on the tail end of a virus at the moment, and I've been using cordyceps the whole time. I haven't noticed any worsening. If anything, it's helped me see my patients every day and keep working through it. There's definitely cautions with other herbs that you would do in that scenario, ginseng, astragalus, that sort of thing. I don't think that cordyceps is anything to be concerned about during acute.
Mason: Yeah, great. Most medicinal mushrooms, the way they're working on chi is generally going to be different to the way that astragalus is working on chi. Despite the fact that cordyceps is working on the lungs. And the way astragalus would be contraindicated, it would push your body to close up the pores and not be able to expel the invading cold, kind of trapping the sick wind or the viral load or whatever it is, which I think is very situational, again. I don't like to throw the baby out with the bath water because there are particular flues where particular stages of the flu where astragalus is better than anything else, especially at those beginning stages. Before the cold, the actual cold, or the viral cold has really invaded your body and gotten into the cell and hoodwinked, I still think at that point astragalus is going to be one of your best chi tonics to ramp up immunity in your lung and push it out.
Mason: But then, yeah, on the cordyceps side of things, we're looking not so much as a herb that's going to close up the pores. It's just going to, with the lungs, expelling a bit of phlegm, and also increasing blood oxygenation. And this is where we get into the athleticism side. In daoism it's known as the primary herb for athletes to go and pro [inaudible 00:26:30] yourself. Remember, in 1996, was it the Atlanta Olympics?
Mason: Oh, yeah, '92. Yeah, that was Atlanta, '92. The Chinese swimmers got out like ripped. I don't know whether they actually found out that they were using steroids or what, but it was cordyceps. They were actually taking cordyceps.
Dan: They were tested too, and they were clear. It was cordyceps. It was legit cordyceps.
Mason: Oh man, they were ripped. They were absolutely ripped. I don't know many serious athletes that I work with that haven't had noticeable benefits with cordyceps. And even the short-term. Long-term is where it's at, as we know. You're going to embody constitutional ability to have greater stamina, greater blood oxygen absorption, and a greater ability ... clinically, again and again and again, red blood cell count is shown to be hugely bolstered by long-term use of cordyceps. So if you've got that kind of red blood cell deficiency, cordyceps is the magic one, as well as with the other classics like the hishuwus and the rumanis and the deer antlers to help you build that blood, as well as [inaudible 00:27:33] like dang gui and so on and so forth.
Mason: Just bringing it back to general athleticism, that's something ... We can go through the greater oxygen absorption massively supporting mitochondrial ATP conversion. You see a greater efficiencies through the organelles of the cells occurring pretty much across the board when you take cordyceps. Anything you want to add to that?
Dan: Yeah, exactly. We know that mechanism which you touched on is a great enhancer of something called V02 max, which essentially helps oxygen move around the body. I think that in itself is such a big issue I see just with poor circulation. You can be on such good medicines and such a good diet, but if you're not pushing that around where it needs to go and tending to the areas of the body that are deficient and are hypoxic, then it's no good. So something like cordyceps in that sort of area, and then the good old basics, the circulation tonics like even ginger. Can't beat it.
Mason: At winter, as well, that's it. That's what generally the chi tonics are for. Cordyceps is a good distinction there that in order you need the substance to be able to circulate, which the cordyceps is contributing to, and then somewhat begins to contribute to the lungs and the chi. But then you start bringing in those herbs, once you have that potential of the Jing, you need to bring the source of movement and movement itself, chi, which is coming from spleen lung function heavily. So that's why you have chi tonics like astragalus, to an extent cordyceps, [widutracalodes 00:28:56], codonopsis, [poriamen 00:28:58] to extent, jujube, licorice. They start coming in, and it's more subtle, but you can start bringing the ability for the body to take the potential Jing and then create this little beginning possibilities of movement in the body, these catalysts for movement everywhere in the body, and movement itself; that's your chi.
Mason: I've been playing around with a blend specifically for that as well. It's been nice to see. As you said, you just mix in that with something like ginger. People with bad circulation, you generally need to build up your Jing to have your potential. Cordyceps is a great one there. And then bring in those chi tonics and bring in the gingers and cinnamons, especially in winter. With these chi tonics, you can start with astragalus. As long as you've got a little bit of movement going on and you're changing your lifestyle you're generally going to feel a massive change, as you've just said. And it's great to get the insight of how cordyceps is actually doing that on a dense level.
Dan: It's not like you and I are making this herb out to be a total cure-all panacea. I think it's still good to tune in with a practitioner, monitor your bloods, and that sort of thing over time. There's always anomalies. But for what we've seen, both you and I, anecdotally, clinically, it's a supportive herb that I don't think there's anyone who couldn't benefit from it, basically.
Mason: Well no, and saying that, I've said it since I first discovered cordyceps and looking at its ancient use. I'm excited about athletes getting onto cordyceps and experiencing greater potential. But to be honest, besides the fact that I have friends that are athletes and I support them and that I find some sports entertaining, I generally don't give a shit about sports, humans exploring the edges of their potential. I more care about humans having at least a baseline health so they can then go explore themselves. When it gets super excessive with athleticism it doesn't excite me so much. But I guess that is an inspiration for them.
Mason: In saying that, what excites me the most about the use of cordyceps is its use with overs 65s. Seriously, I think on a Wednesday or whatever it is the age pension gets dropped into the account they should be dropping a jar of cordyceps in with them as well. Or every retirement home, or even to an extent a rehab center. I just think it's a real perfect herb. Of course, astragalus you could say the same, and yukomiabach you could say the same, and reishi you could say the same, over 65. But cordyceps is probably the most fitting herb, in the daoist system that I use anyway. If you're gonna have one, pick that 100%. Jing, supporting of baseline energy and baseline hormones, and therefore fortifying the strength of bones and hips and knees, you want that supported 100%. Then your oxygenation of the body, your stamina, your chi, keeping the mind sharp. It's all the things you need support with as you start getting into the older years, surface immunity and constitutional immunity.
Dan: Yep. We know hormones drop. If we want to look at it after 30 testosterone starts declining in men. So males listening, cordyceps, get into it. Over 65s, we know hydrochloric acid drops out. White blood cells start dropping. Bone marrow starts degrading. I'm sounding pretty harsh and heavy. But no, you want these allies when that starts happening to really preserve what you've got and keep that fire burning, keep that Jing ignited really. Because if you look at herbs like astragalus and cordyceps, you know that they're working not just on the surface immunity; they do that as well, but they are restoring that deep bone marrow communication to the thymus and to your white blood cells to say, "Hey, keep going. Keep producing."
Mason: And just in terms of using it, of course, as we said, it's a pretty well-balanced mushie to be using on its own. Of course, I'd blend it. I've got two formulas in the [inaudible 00:32:32] range where it's a primary ingredient, the Jing and the Mason's mushrooms. What formulations do you find yourself ... Is there any herb partnerships that you like teeing it up with?
Dan: Yeah, cordyceps and reishi I feel like are traditionally paired pretty well and I feel still clinically relevant together. I feel like reishi is more strictly immunological and shin tonic and very calming and very nervous system restorative. Not as much jing restorative as, say, cordyceps. So the two together seem like a really good blend.
Dan: Having said that, there's been a lot of cases where I'll be doing diet, probiotics, liquid tinctures for herbs, for other things, and I'll just do literally cordyceps as its own as a tonic, just in tea. Like lupus patients, for example, classic example. We've got a heavy autoimmune process there and also an immune deficiency. They tend to be the ones that still can't regulate that cellular immunity, that surface immunity. So just cordyceps as a tonic daily I've seen really good results with too. And there's really good literature on that too, so we'll throw that in the show notes if that's cool.
Dan: There was one study where they looked at lupus nephritis, so when it attacks the kidneys, and they paired that up with medications to mitigate that inflammatory attack. But what you usually see there from the medication is a massive drop in leukocytes, which are just white blood cells. And in this particular study cordyceps used alongside the medication was able to preserve all the white blood cells across the board. Amazing.
Mason: Amazing. Man, the stories are kind of ... We don't share our testimonials really at SuperFeast, but just because they need context for things like this. Between cordyceps and reishi when you have a white blood cell deficiency, sometimes the stories, the testimonials that we get coming back, like folks who have been in and out of the hospital having white blood cell transplant for months and months and just getting towards the end of their ability to be able to do it, and just depleting immunologically, and then just adding reishi mushroom, it doesn't work every time, but every now and then we get those emails from people just going, "I just want you to know, this is the only thing I did and [inaudible 00:34:30] and my white blood cell count is back up into normal range just from doing that." And there you go, right there, just in that situation using cordyceps.
Mason: If integration is occurring it's wonderful to hear that. We're just going to get these little hacks occurring, and then eventually we need to get these things in the hospitals. If anyone has retirement villages in their family, anyone knows, and they have the ability to include mushies, I swear to god, I will support the experimental run. I know it's already a very ... How do I put this tastefully? There's a lot of sex there. There's a lot of people having a lot of sex in retirement homes. And I know this isn't going to help. But hey, you know. Seriously, I'd love to see cordyceps, even if it's just in [inaudible 00:35:11].
Mason: Now, in saying that, let's bring it into land. In terms of usage, I mentioned the flavor. In daoism it's seen as having this sweet, sweet flavor, but with maltiness, little bit of bitterness, not much, umami, a little bit of a vegemite twang to it. [crosstalk 00:35:28] How are you using cordyceps? What are you mixing it in with? How are you integrating it?
Dan: To be honest, it's not too tricky and fancy. It's just straight old good boiling water, teaspoon a day. Most recently I was doing two teaspoons a day when I was smashing out a full day of clinic and then going and doing a lot of physical work in the yard. We're renovating at the moment, so we're on the shovel and the crowbar. [crosstalk 00:35:48] fantastic, man. I have to say. It was one of those times when I hadn't used it in a long time, and I just thought, "Let's just rock it on its own and see what happens." I haven't done that in years. So yeah, really, really felt it. I've been looking forward to the podcast ever since just to talk about these sorts of things.
Mason: Yeah. It's an incredible herb. I think Ron Teeguarden talks about 20 years having cordyceps ... This anecdotal. I can't find the original source, but I remember talking to people about it, him having said it, his students letting me know that. But I believe it. It's one of those herbs. It's so amazing and so deep and rich and contextual in terms of its physical and energetic benefits that, yeah, it would take about 20 years of ongoing usage to really understand the herb and really unlock the key of what it's going to give you longevity-wise. It's a massive rejuvenating herb. It's a massive longevity herb. And longevity isn't just ... we're not talking about necessarily adding years to your life. It's life to your years. That's a rejuvenating tonic. People need to really wrap their heads around that. That's what we're talking about when we're talking about longevity. If you happen to have a massively longer life then that's just a happy accident to you trying to pour in as much quality time, quality tissue, quality hormones into each day. So you're adding life to those years.
Mason: I went back and had a [inaudible 00:37:05] summit here, did a recipe video, and just did a classic sugar bomb banana with a little bit of maca, good pinch of cinnamon. Because I'm generally going to use cinnamon if I'm using something sugary like banana. Get my blood sugar balanced. A heap of cordyceps. And then we went with some kind of tea base. That was it. And blended that up. And far out; that was deliciou.s I love cordyceps in that context. I really like it mixed in with chocolate, and I really like it with misos or in stock, or even just in soups and things as its own stock cube. It's got a really beautiful flavor. In coffee as well it works magically. Yeah, I just wanted to throw that out there in terms of usage.
Mason: Are there any other final points that you wanted to run through? I mean, contraindication, I haven't really come across many, to be honest. I don't know about yourself.
Dan: That's an interesting point because there's always a concern with some of the mushrooms that if people come in that have really heavy inflammatory stuff going on and they're on immune-suppressing medications, can you still use mushrooms? If there's any out of the medicinal mushroom camp that I think would be suitable straight off the top of my head it would be cordyceps. Because we know an actual constituent from cordyceps is how they discovered cyclosporine, which is a heavy immune suppressant drug.
Mason: I didn't know that.
Dan: Yeah. There's something about cordyceps that seems to really benefit both polar opposite ends of immunity. And it's extremely normalizing and beneficial so far with the evidence we've seen. Another note just on its fertility, if there's any women out there where they're struggling with fertility or miscarriage and things like that, it can be a great addition to both the female and the male. Remember, this herb's promoting libido and fertility and hormonal regulation. So blokes, if you're listening and you feel off your game and you're feeling a bit flat, go and try some cordyceps; you've got nothing to lose.
Mason: Yeah. If you're really bottomed out, that cordyceps and deer antler combination, that cordyceps, yukomia, deer antler combination, it's really nice and well-rounded, because it's not actually an aphrodisiac. It kind of might as well be. Sometimes you're going to feel it immediately turn things on. Sometimes you're going to have to build back a little bit. If you're at that massively depleted stage you can speed it up a little bit along with the deer antler. But don't miss out on that cordyceps. It's like a bread and butter of bringing back ejaculatory power.
Mason: So, bro, thank you so much. And everyone listening, talked a lot, and I feel like in a well-rounded sense of what we're doing here. Didn't really get to go into the nuances beyond what you were talking about in regulation for the immune system. But that's because it's too vast. It's a very potent and magical immune tonic within itself. And you've got an example there. And quite often the outcome is massive lowering in inflammation.
Mason: So everyone, remember, just because a herb is wonderful, if you're not feeling the pull don't necessarily have to take cordyceps just because it's got all these great things going on. But if you are feeling the pull, yeah, jump in there. Give it a go. Give it a sample. For those of you that are just getting reminded and you really feel that soul connection to cordyceps, absolutely, go back and get it. Bring it into your apothecary. It's a good one to just have there even if it's just once a week. Or maybe it's seven times a week. Just have it there so that you can continue stocking up that long-term relationship with cordy.
Mason: Thanks so much, man.
Dan: Pleasure, mate. Look forward to the next one. And hopefully we've shared some new light on this amazing fungus. And anyone listening there keen to work with me, reach out. I'm more than happy to work with people that might be struggling with any issues we've gone over.
Mason: Yeah. I want to thank you for that because lots of SuperFeasters have taken us up on that offer to work with you, and we get the feedback of them having great success. So thanks for helping support the SuperFeast community like that, man.
Dan: Pleasure. Appreciate it.
Mason: See you, bro.