Cordyceps mushrooms have been described as having medicinal properties in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine.
Supplements and products containing Cordyceps extract have become increasingly popular due to their many apparent health benefits.
Additionally, recent evidence from scientific research supports the use of cordyceps mushrooms for enhanced exercise performance and better recovery.
What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?
Cordyceps is a type of parasitic fungi that grows mostly on the larvae of insects. Some species grow on arthropods and other fungi. When these fungi attack their host, they replace its tissue and grow long, skinny stems that grow outside the host’s body.
These are referred to as Cordyceps mushrooms.
Although it is not actually a mushroom by classification, it has been described as an exotic medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine.
There are more than 400 species of Cordyceps that have been discovered, but only two have become the focus of health research: Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris.
Cordyceps Mushrooms in Traditional Medicine
Interest in the health benefits of Cordyceps was inspired by traditional Chinese medicine.
For centuries, traditional medicines have used Cordyceps to treat fatigue, sickness, kidney disease, aging, and low sex drive.
In present-day China, Cordyceps is an approved treatment for arrhythmia, a condition in which the heartbeat is too slow, too fast or irregular.
Recent Research on Cordyceps Mushrooms Supplements
Based on recent studies, Cordyceps are believed to increase the body’s ability to produce the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is necessary for transferring energy to the muscles.
In one research study, the effects of Cordyceps on exercise capacity in a group of 30 healthy older adults was studied. One group received 3 grams of Cordyceps, while the other group received a placebo. The study examined participants’ VO2 max while riding a stationary bicycle. VO2 max is used to determine fitness level.
At the end of the 6-week observation period, the participants who received the Cordyceps supplement increased their VO2 max by 7%. Participants who received the placebo instead of the Cordyceps had no change.
Two similar studies examined the effect of Cordyceps on exercise performance in older adults and younger adults. The older adults who received the Cordyceps supplement had no change in VO2 max, but did show other improvements in exercise capacity.
The younger adults who received Cordyceps showed an 11% increase in VO2 max compared to those who received the placebo.
Based on these studies, Cordyceps is believed to have a positive impact on exercise performance in a wide variety of populations.
How Can Cordyceps Help with Recovery After Exercise?
Cordyceps can help the body use oxygen more efficiently and enhance blood flow.
This can be particularly beneficial for athletes or those who regularly work out. This fungi has been shown to not only improve exercise and athletic performance, but also speed up post-workout muscle recovery.
Studies have shown that Cordyceps have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which are helpful in exercise recovery.
Additionally, a compound called cordycepin found in Cordyceps is said to increase non-rapid eye movement via adenosine receptors.
Non-REM sleep is also known as deep sleep, and this phase of sleep is crucial for muscle recovery and body restoration. Most people should spend about 40% of their time in deep sleep.
Cordyceps’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, plus it’s potential to increase time spent in deep sleep make it an excellent supplement to support recovery after exercise.
Cordyceps is not a supplement that is recommended to take before bed. The supplement has more of an energizing effect, which is why many people take it before a workout. Cordyceps is believed to work best when in the morning.
You can add a cordyceps recovery mushroom supplement like Naked Recovery from Naked Nutrition to smoothies and reap the rewards of better quality sleep and improved recovery.
What are Some Other Benefits of Cordyceps?
Researchers believe that Cordyceps may have anti-aging capabilities. The benefits could include prevention of memory decline and better sexual function.
The potential for anti-aging benefits are believed to be related to the antioxidant properties of the fungi.
Two different studies, one done in fruit flies and one done in mice, both showed Cordyceps to extend the life of the subjects by several months. At this time, it is unknown if Cordyceps have the same effect in humans.
Potential Anti-Tumor Effects
Test-tube and animal research findings suggest that Cordyceps may have the potential to treat cancer, as well as some side effects of cancer treatments.
In some lab studies, findings have shown Cordyceps to slow or prevent the growth of many types of human cancer cells, including lung, colon, skin and liver cancers. Studies performed on mice have also found that Cordyceps have anti-tumor effects on lymphoma, melanoma and lung cancer.
Cordyceps could also help reverse the side effects of some cancer therapies. Leukopenia is a side effect of some cancer therapies in which the number of white blood cells in the body decreases, putting the patient at an increased risk for infection.
It’s important to mention that these effects have not been found in humans, and more research is needed before experts can offer conclusions about the anti-tumor effects of Cordyceps in humans.
May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Cordyceps may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which a person’s body either does not produce enough insulin or respond to insulin properly. When chronically high blood sugar is gone unmanaged, several health complications can occur, including chronic kidney disease.
Some studies have shown that Cordyceps may maintain blood sugar levels within a healthy range by simulating the action of insulin. Additionally, a systematic review of 22 studies found that Cordyceps supplements improved the kidney function of people with chronic kidney disease.
Possible Benefits for Heart Health
Recent research has found that Cordyceps may have cardioprotective benefits. Some of these benefits include preventing arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), lowering LDL cholesterol (commonly known as the bad cholesterol), and lowering triglycerides.
The Cordyceps fungi naturally contains adenosine, a compound that has been shown to have a positive impact on heart health.
A study performed in rats found that Cordyceps significantly reduced heart injuries from chronic kidney disease. Heart injuries due to kidney disease are believed to increase the risk of heart failure, so preventing these injuries may improve patient outcomes.
May Help Fight Inflammation
While inflammation is a natural and necessary response to illness and injury, chronic low-grade inflammation can lead to health problems including heart disease and cancer. Cordyceps is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that help fight chronic inflammation.
These studies have not been done in humans, so more research is needed to draw conclusions about inflammatory benefits in humans.
From Fungi to Supplement
Cordyceps is challenging to grow and harvest, and the fungi has an exorbitant price tag of more than $9,000 USD per pound. It is because of this that the majority of Cordyceps supplements contain a synthetically grown version called Cordyceps CS-4.
There is no recommended dose for the human consumption of Cordyceps due to a lack of research and data in humans. When used in human research, 1,000–3,000 mg per day is the common dose used. This range has not been found to produce any side effects and has been shown to have certain health benefits.
How to Include Cordyceps Mushrooms in Your Day?
If you’d like to reap the exercise performance and recovery benefits of cordyceps, there are a few ways you include them in your day.
You can drink Cordyceps tea as part of your daily morning routine.
You can take them in powder form, which can be added to water, smoothies, or another beverage of your choice. Naked Recovery mushroom supplement is a convenient option for Cordyceps-based recovery. They are also available in capsule form.
Cordyceps are well known in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicines. They have been used for centuries to treat various health problems including fatigue, sickness, kidney disease, aging, and low sex drive.
Though studies have shown the fungi to have potential health benefits in many areas, most research is conducted in animals and test-tubes, and there is little research on its effects in humans. More research is needed before experts can make conclusive recommendations.
Animal research has shown that Cordyceps may improve heart health and fight inflammation, cancer, diabetes and aging. However, the results of these studies cannot be assumed to be the same in humans.
Researchers have studied the effects of Cordyceps on exercise performance and recovery in humans. These studies found that Cordyceps may boost energy and oxygen use during exercise. If you’d like to try Cordyceps to improve your performance and recovery, you can try Naked Recovery mushroom supplement.
Kristen Carli, RD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness