If you are looking for a medicinal mushroom, Cordyceps sinensis is a good choice. It is a striking mushroom that parasitizes on a caterpillar. But it is rich in vitamins, minerals and polysaccharides, which can support our health. Cordyceps(capsules or extract) can be used for fatigue, diabetes and cancer, among other conditions.
The unusual growth habit of Cordyceps sinensis
Mushrooms are fungi, and their way of growing and reproducing has always been shrouded in a somewhat mysterious atmosphere. This is especially true with Cordyceps. This mushroom (also called Caterpillar fungus), grows at altitudes of 3,000 to 5,000 meters in the mountains of China, Tibet and Nepal.
The striking thing is that Cordyceps has two manifestations: an animal one (it then looks like a worm) and a plant one. Then the mushroom looks more like grass. In its grass form, it gives off spores, which infect a rare caterpillar. The caterpillar dies and the mushroom grows inside. The fungal threads fill the caterpillar’s body, allowing Cordyceps to feed. In summer, the fruiting body that emerges from the dead caterpillar forms. So Cordyceps is clearly a parasitic mushroom.
In Asia, it has made a name for itself as a medicinal mushroom and has been used there for thousands of years. Unfortunately, Cordyceps is now very rare, which is because the caterpillar, which it needs to grow, is threatened with extinction. We have since succeeded in growing the mushroom on a different, plant-based culture medium. It turns out that Cordyceps grown in this way are just as medicinal as mushrooms growing in the wild.
Medicinal effects of Cordyceps
As mentioned, Cordyceps sinensis is not missing from the medicine cabinet in Asia. This natural remedy is used for various health conditions. It is also becoming better known in the West and more and more research is being done on its effects. Below you can read more about what you could use this mushroom for.
Effect against cancer
Cordyceps has powerful anti-tumor properties, research shows. The substances in the mushroom can slow the growth of tumors. You can use it for different types of cancer, such as lung, skin, breast, liver and colon cancer. Furthermore, Cordyceps was also found to have anti-cancer activity in lymphoma, lung cancer and melanoma in mice.
But there is another trait that comes in handy in cancer. Regular treatments such as chemotherapy have the side effect of causing leukopenia. This means that the white blood cell count decreases and this has a negative effect on your immunity. You become vulnerable to infections. Studies in mice with leukopenia, showed that after treatment with Cordyceps, they no longer suffered from this condition. It is not yet clear whether this same effect occurs in humans; more research is needed for that. But it may mean that Cordyceps can prevent complications that can occur during cancer treatment.
Using cordyceps in diabetes
Diabetes is an increasingly common condition. When you suffer from this, the body no longer responds well to insulin. This keeps your blood sugar levels too high, which can cause a host of health problems. For people with diabetes, it is important to keep their blood sugar levels as even as possible.
That’s where Cordyceps could play a role. The substances in the mushroom mimic the functions of insulin in the body. That this works is proven by research, in which mice were given Cordyceps extract. Their blood sugar levels then dropped significantly. In addition, Cordyceps was also found to have protective effects on the kidneys and spleen.
For fatigue complaints
Chronic fatigue is a common condition that is not yet very well understood. But you can also suffer from fatigue after illness or severe stress. This is where Cordyseps sinensis could help. People who took a Cordyceps supplement consistently for at least 6 weeks may find that their energy and stamina improve.
Cordyceps can help increase the body’s maximum oxygen uptake. This has a positive effect on your energy levels and organs. With more oxygen, the intestines can work better and absorb more nutrients, and that too provides more energy. People who suffer from fatigue can also combine Cordyceps with Reishi(capsules or extract), for an even more powerful effect against symptoms.
Heart and blood vessels
Those looking to promote cardiovascular health could also take Cordyceps. In China, it is used to treat arrhythmia, in which the heart beats irregularly or too fast or too slow. The mushroom may also help regulate cholesterol levels. Furthermore, Cordyceps can help prevent cardiovascular damage that can result from chronic kidney disease. This is because the mushroom contains adenosine, a substance that has protective properties.
How do you use Cordyceps?
Cordyceps is a supplement available as an extract or capsules. Both are easy to take and safe to use. It is only if you are hypersensitive to mushrooms that caution is recommended. Furthermore, you might also like to know that most Cordyceps supplements come from cultivated mushrooms. So you are not using a rare mushroom that is in danger of extinction. You can take it if you have symptoms, but it is also an excellent supplement to use to support your overall health and prevent symptoms.