Cordyceps Medicinal Mushroom: The Amazing Benefits

by Sophia Richmond-Manno July 12, 2019 11 mins read

cordyceps-superfeast

High Performance Tonic

We are so fond of this potentiating powerhouse, here at SuperFeast HQ. So much so, we sell it as an individual herb and it is a key player in two of our carefully curated blends, Mason's Mushrooms, and JING blend. A potent Jing herb, Cordy (as we love to call it) supports both the Yin and Yang elements of the body, is a powerful potentiating adaptogen that can be used to counter fatigue, increase immunity and supercharge athletic performance. PLUS has a rich antioxidant profile, making it a brilliant anti aging tonic herb. Read on to get the lowdown on this epic and very potent mushroom...

 

What is Cordyceps?

Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom revered for its powerful adaptogenic qualities. In the Taoist tradition of herbal medicine Cordyceps is considered to be a life-enhancing herb. Used to increase blood oxygenation and cultivate Jing - the primordial energy that resides within the kidneys. When we increase our Jing, we improve our core energy and increase cellular performance and endurance. We reduce our recovery time after exertion and cultivate an overall robust feeling in the body, mind and spirit. Cordy is safe for use in both the young and young at heart.

Cordyceps
Cordyceps!

 

Cordyceps is a potent athletic tonic, brilliant for the elderly, mothers postpartum and those who are seeking to replenish their foundational energy stores. That’s pretty much everyone right?! 


Where and How Does Cordyceps Grow in the Wild?

Cordyceps commonly grows in the mountainous regions of China, the Himalayas and Tibet. In the wild, Cordyceps exists as a parasitic fungus that inhabits the body of insects such as caterpillars and ants. Ophiocordyceps sinensis formerly Cordyceps sinensis (we use a cultivated form of this strain at Superfeast), appears as a blade-like mushroom growing out of the head of a caterpillar. The cordyceps mycelium is encased in the mummified body of the caterpillar, this is where the fungus germinates. The fruiting body sprouts forth from the caterpillar, and is generally capless and shaped like a blade or twig. Nature is pretty gnarly huh! You can read more about the demonic nature of wild cordyceps in our blog The Tale Of The Zombie Fungus.

 

Wild cordyceps is super rare and insanely expensive to source.

 

Due to the prohibitive cost of this wild tonic herb, the Chinese developed a really smart and effective way to cultivate a cordyceps mycellium, which they now grow in liquid fermentation tanks (and is completely caterpillar free!). This pure mycelium product is known as Cs-4 and this is what we use at SuperFeast.

cordyceps-mushroom-process

SuperFeast Cordyceps fermentation tanks

 

The SuperFeast Approach to Cordyceps

At SuperFeast we primarily work with the fruiting bodies of our medicinal mushrooms (as opposed to the mycelium, which is another popular way of consuming mushrooms, but less traditional). We bang on about this all the time and you can delve a little deeper as to why that is on our FAQ Page.

 

We do have one exception to this rule and that is Cordyceps.

 

A large body of research has demonstrated that Cs-4 (the cultivated strain of cordyceps) has a similar medicinal profile and level of active constituents to those found in wild cordyceps. Several years of compositional analysis as well as clinical trials have demonstrated that Cs-4 acts medicinally in a manner consistent with that of wildcrafted cordyceps.

 

The term Cs-4 translates to mean the 4th strain of the cordyceps mycelium. Many strains of cordyceps mycelium have been researched and scientists have found that only the 4th strain of the cordyceps mycelium could be grown using liquid cultivation methods. This method produces effective levels of all the active compounds found in the fruiting body of wild cordyceps, and we like the sound of that!

 

We’re not so keen on the ecological, not to mention the economic damage (to your wallet that is!) that harvesting fully wild cordyceps may have.

 


    Top 5 Benefits of Cordyceps 

    1. Cordyceps + Athletic Performance + Fatigue

    Cordyceps shot into the public view in the early 90’s following some record breaking performances by female members of the Chinese athletic team. Go gals! At the time there was some speculation as to what influenced the team members unprecedented success, and the ladies put it down to a tight training and nutritional regime, one that included a Cordyceps supplement. This aroused global interest into the performance enhancing qualities that Cordyceps may embody. Since then, studies have shown Cordyceps to have antioxidant activity, enhance blood flow and increase oxygen absorption and utilisation within the body, factors that all have a positive impact on athletic performance.


    Benefits to aerobic performance have been observed in those using Cordyceps via the herbs ability to support vasodilation and metabolic efficiency. Significant improvements in exercise output were noted when Cordyceps was used consistently over time. A result that is supportive of the traditional understanding of the herb, known for its profound capacity to strengthen the body when taken long term.


    Cordyceps anti fatigue qualities were studied in a mouse model. Researchers found that mice given a Cordyceps preparation were able to swim, run and rotate for longer periods of time, results that support Cordyceps stamina promoting activities. The study observed an increase in antioxidant activity, particularly glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, and a decrease in markers for oxidative stress in the blood, liver and muscles of the mice taking Cordyceps compared with those who were in the non treatment group.


    In humans Cordyceps was found to reduce fatigue and increase exercise capacity when taken over a 12 week period by elderly test subjects.


    Cordyceps has been shown to have a positive influence on the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the compound our cells use as their energy currency. This may account for the herb’s significant performance enhancing and anti fatigue effects.


    2. Cordyceps + Immunity

    Cordyceps like many of its medicinal mushroom friends, has a strong supportive action on the immune system. Cordyceps acts as a bidirectional modulating agent regulating both innate and adaptive immunity via its ability to potentiate and suppress the immune response. An action that may be beneficial in conditions where autoimmunity is involved. 


    Naturally high in polysaccharides, particularly beta-glucans, medicinal mushrooms can provide deep nourishment to the immune cells and microbiome and this includes Cordyceps! Of which are particularly useful in re-balancing candida overgrowth.


    3. Cordyceps + Anti Aging 

    As a deeply respected Jing herb in the traditional sense, Cordyceps has a potent anti aging action. When our Jing is topped up and overflowing youthful beauty, overall body radiance and robustness is a likely result. After all our Jing essence is our genetic potential, it is the foundational energy used for our cellular turnover and our DNA expression, and it’s involved in all of our bodily processes! Jing is super important, life in the human body pretty much can’t happen without it. Cordyceps is an absolute rocknrolla Jing tonic.


    From a phytochemical perspective, Cordyceps, due to its high antioxidant capacity can be crowned as an abundant anti aging adaptogen. Cordyceps ability to uplevel the action of superstar antioxidants; superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, reduces free radical damage and oxidative stress within the body as a whole. A medicinal quality that pacifies inflammation and cellular decline. Animal studies have also shown Cordyceps to elicit other anti aging benefits such as increased brain power and sexual capacity when consumed.


    4. Cordyceps + Lung Health 

    In the traditional herbal systems of Asia Cordyceps is a respected lung tonic, used to treat ailments of the respiratory system. In animal models Cordyceps has shown promising results as a supportive treatment in conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In one study Cordyceps was found to not only inhibit the inflammatory pathways associated with COPD progression, but to also reduce inflammation in locally in the airways. Factors that lessen the likelihood of the structural changes that contribute to the severity and pathophysiology of the disease.


    Cigarette smoking is a significant factor in the development of respiratory disorders and Cordyceps has been found to reduce lung tissue deterioration in vitro. Cordyceps was shown to reduce the free radical damage associated with oxidative stress. In this regard the herb may provide a promising treatment strategy in cases where chronic smoke exposure is involved as well as in other inflammatory lung conditions such as asthma.


    5.  Cordyceps + Sexual Function

    Cordyceps has been used as a sexual tonic for women and men of the orient for thousands of years. Favoured for its ability to support hormonal health, increase libido, improve stamina and promote overall vigor, essentially used to promote Jing essence, notice a common thread here? 


    Research into the testosterone boosting action of the herb has shown it to have encouraging effects on the sexual health of men. Particularly in age related sexual decline. Cordyceps may increase sperm motility and enhance male reproduction at the foundational level.


    Cordyceps may also have a stimulating effect on the production of female sex hormones, an action that may be particularly useful in the success rate of in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

     

    SuperFeast Cordyceps is

    • vegan - no sacrificial caterpillars involved here folks!
    • cultivated in liquid fermentation tanks on a mycelial culture.
    • a potent 10:1 Cs-4 herbal extract powder.

    Cordyceps-product

    If this sounds good to you, head to our online store to purchase your batch today!

    Energetics / Clinical Usage

    Other names: Ophiocordyceps sinensis (formerly Cordyceps sinensis), Dong Chong Xia Cao 冬虫, winter worm summer grass, caterpillar fungus
    Channels: Kidneys and Lungs
    Treasures Nourished: Yin Jing, Yang Jing
    Taste: sweet
    Energy: warm
    Clinical Actions:   

       adaptogenic
       lung tonic
       athletic tonic
       anti-inflammatory
       antioxidant

    Cordyceps and the Traditions

    In the Taoist Tonic Herbal tradition Cordyceps is revered as an absolute superior herb. Held in the same esteem as other adaptogenic superstars such as ginseng, reishi and deer antler velvet. Cordyceps is treasured for its ability to fortify the body and mind at the foundational level. A potent Jing herb that carries both the Yin and Yang elements, Cordyceps is said to promote the primary motivating force behind all of life’s activities. Taoists apply Cordyceps in a variety of health concerns including sexual deficiency, impotence, fatigue, infertility, decreased lung tone, decreased virility in the elderly and to enhance physical capacity and strength; in conditions generally associated with deficient kidney essence (Jing).


    Where It All Began - The History

    The medicinal use of Cordyceps was first observed by the indigenous yak herders of Tibet and Nepal. The herders cottoned on to the medicinal value of Cordyceps after witnessing their cattle’s increased virility when grazing upon the seasonal spring grass.

     

    The herdsmen pondered with curiosity as to how their cattle were able to conduct themselves with a vigour and strength not usually available in the high altitudes in which their yak’s grazing pastures were located. Eventually the herdsmen realised that their cattle were feasting on an unusual mushroom, Cordyceps, which were found growing from caterpillar bodies that were littered amongst the grass. From here the herdsmen concluded that what appeared to benefit the yak may also be of benefit to them and they started consuming the herb. Eventually the word spread, history unfolded and Cordyceps became a valuable tonic herb in the Eastern medicinal systems, where it was reserved for use by the Royal’s of ancient China.


    The Chinese have been known to call Cordyceps "winter worm, summer grass” as they believed Cordyceps to embody a vegetable state in the summer while taking on the form on an animal in the winter. Pretty poetic right?!


    How To Use Cordyceps

    We suggest you start adding a 1/4 teaspoon of cordy into hot water, into your coffee, tea, smoothie etc. We always encourage starting small. This allows you to really feel into how your unique body interacts with the herb. We want you to develop your own relationship with each herb, which is why it's an nice idea to try the herbs straight in hot water. This allows you to really explore the taste and flavour profile. Once you start feeling good on this 1/4 teaspoon dose, we encourage you to build up, until a nice maintenance dose of a teaspoon daily. Always trust your body, you will know whether to keep going, or pull back. Enjoy as the magic unfolds for you.

     

    Cordyceps Recipes

    Cordyceps, like the rest of the SuperFeast herbal range is not heat sensitive and can be added to just about ANYTHING! How good is that?! 

     

    Cordyceps carries a sweet earthy flavour and embodies a warm energetic. We love it added to hot cacao/chocolate, herbal tea, chai etc. If you’re a coffee drinker, Cordyceps is a great addition to your morning cuppa joe. This potentiating powerhouse will supercharge your body and soften some of those not so desirable side effects caffeine has on the adrenals and nervous system.  

     

    Cordyceps also pairs well with savoury meals such as broths, stews, curries and soups. 

     

    Here are a few recipe suggestions to get you started: 

    cordyceps-mushroom-recipe

    A Final Note

    SuperFeast Cordyceps may:

    • improve athletic performance
    • cultivate Jing essence
    • manage stress and counter fatigue
    • rebuild core energy after child birth
    • fortify immunity
    • boost lung health
    • support asthma
    • strengthen the knees and lower back
    • balance Yin and Yang Jing essence
    • support libido and fertility
    • modulate cholesterol.

     

    Contraindications

    Cordyceps is an extremely safe herb that is well tolerated by most people, however it is not advised to use in the case of fever. There are some cases of Cordyceps allergy, however this is very rare. If you are taking prescription medication it is advisable to check in with your healthcare provider before using the herb as Cordyceps may interfere with some pharmaceutical medications.

     

    Want to access your full potential, feel energised, buoyant, and nurture the wellspring of your foundational energy aka your Jing essence? Then Cordyceps is the herb for you! This incredible medicinal mushroom is one of our absolute favourite allies in the manifestation of vibrant, long lasting health. Want to dive deeper into the world of Cordyceps? Check out our latest podcast

     

    Resources

      Halpern G, 2007, Healing Mushrooms, Square One Publishers, NY. 
      Rogers 2011, The Fungal Pharmacy, The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms and Lichens of North America, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5236007
      Teeguarden R 1998, The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, A Time Warner Company, NY.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553310/
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18803231
      https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-602/cordyceps
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110835/
      MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5795554/
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4968689/
      https://www.jfda-online.com/article/S1021-9498(16)30182-X/fulltext
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520895/
      https://academic.oup.com/biolreprod/article/70/5/1358/2712670

      Sophia Richmond-Manno
      Sophia Richmond-Manno

      Her love of helping individual’s find their own rhythm and vitality is what makes Sophia tick. Creating content and educating others on the healing effects of tonic herbs, Sophia brings intention and love to all her human interactions. Sophia’s back ground in naturopathy, paired with her knowledge of the subtle energetics all around, allow her to subtly lead you down the path of your own good health. Sophia is the Customer Service angel at SuperFeast, she is most likely on the other end of the phone, when you give us a call.



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