Updated: Oct 10, 2022
WHAT ARE CORDYCEPS AND FOR WHAT ARE THEY USED?
Cordyceps is a mushroom that devours its insect host from the inside out before sprouting a mushroom from the host’s head and begins releasing spores. Sounds nice, huh? The good news is that other varieties of cordyceps exist which can be naturally grown in laboratories for healthy food production.
Cordyceps is a featured ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine where it has been deployed to increase recovery, increase energy, support a healthy response to asthma, and to help improve sexual function.
Consumption of cordyceps mushrooms for recovery, energy and health dates back centuries to the far East. Ancient healers would brew cordyceps tea in order to deliver energy, strength and stamina to patients. How did ancient healers realize that the seemingly grotesque cordyceps mushroom delivers recovery and energy?
Legend holds that Himalayan tribes watched their goats and sheep gain significant strength and stamina after observing them eating cordyceps mushrooms. Soon they began feeding cordyceps to their cattle in order for them to gain similar strength and energy benefits. Inevitably the people of the tribe then began eating cordyceps themselves while noticing renewed sexual vigor, natural energy and recovery.
In the 1993 Beijing Olympic games, Cordyceps received some powerful attention when several Chinese female athletes claimed that their record level performances were simply the result of drinking cordyceps tea. The 10,000 meter world record was smashed by 42 seconds and the 1,500 meters record was also broken – all seemingly due to natural energy from cordyceps mushrooms. While this level of athletic improvement from cordyceps alone is likely too good to be true, it’s clear from this experience that cordyceps mushrooms support athletic recovery, stamina and natural energy.
DOES CORDYCEPS REALLY WORK?
The claims of cordyceps as the sole reason for the miraculous athletic achievements by Chinese Olympians were eventually found to be false. While the Chinese were doping in addition to drinking cordyceps tea for recovery, the role of cordyceps in their athletic performance should not be overlooked as there are several studies which suggest strong benefits from cordyceps mushrooms are possible.
Oxygen absorption, exercise endurance and heart health all appear to be improved by cordyceps mushroom consumption over a 3 week period according to one human study.
Another study showed significant improvement in exercise performance for those consuming cordyceps mushrooms as compared to a controlled, placebo group.
It should be noted that the ability of Cordyceps mushrooms to improve athletic performance and recovery is associated with consistent usage over many weeks, rather than with inconsistent supplementation.
HOW DOES CORDYCEPS WORK?
While researchers are working to understand and explain how cordyceps mushrooms work to improve athletic performance and recovery, the functionality of cordyceps is not yet fully understood. It is hypothesized that cordyceps mushrooms improve blood flow and the body’s ability to process glycogen which then increases levels of the body’s energy source to moving muscles, ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Cordyceps also helps one exercise longer and harder due to it delaying lactate accumulation, or the muscle burn that is felt with strenuous exercise.
Cordyceps is not likely to instantly deliver the desired recovery results; however, consistent usage of cordyceps over several weeks appears to result in more energy and faster recovery. The potential benefits of cordyceps mushrooms span beyond recovery and energy as consistent usage of cordyceps mushroom tea is also associated with a:
Powerful antioxidant to help your body eliminate free radicals
Strong immune system
Strengthened immune response against cancer
Beneficial boost in brain function
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THE BENEFITS OF CORDYCEPS MUSHROOMS?
Researchers at John’s Hopkins University and elsewhere typically utilize “hot water extracts”, or “Mushroom Teas”, as the means to deliver mushroom nutrition to test subjects. Tea is one of the best ways to deliver the benefits of mushrooms to our bodies as our bodies are over 65% water and mushrooms are best absorbed after they are brewed or cooked.
For those looking to improve energy, recovery, stamina or sexual function, giving cordyceps tea a try can be a healthy and fun way to explore how to naturally fuel your body’s nutrition needs. Online tea manufacturer, Packed with Life, offers a convenient online tea store where you can find delicious mushroom tea featuring cordyceps.