What is Cordyceps?
Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that includes over 400 different species which are found all over the world in countries like China, Japan, India, USA, Australia, Peru, Bolivia and many more. They typically infect other insects and arthropods with each species of Cordyceps infecting a very specific bug. The lifecycle begins with Cordyceps spores landing on the insect and then the spore will germinate and small thread-like filaments called hyphae will begin to grow inside the insect and turn into mycelium. The mycelium will continue to consume the insect from the inside and when the insect is fully consumed and the environmental conditions are correct, a blade-like mushroom (fruiting body) will be produced from the insect’s head.
1. Reduces the risk of serious diseases
Cordyceps have great potential in the fight against serious diseases. Hence the growing interest western medical researchers are taking in this odd fungus. Its antioxidant properties explain why cordyceps could be useful. Antioxidants defend cells from the damage free radicals cause. Although both substances exist in healthy bodies, factors such as bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, and air pollution can disturb the delicate balance between them. These days, the body’s antioxidant stores often need reinforcement.
2. Enhances the body’s ability to resist aging
A medication capable of stopping the aging process is likely to be the stuff of legend rather than reality. However, although nobody claims that cordyceps prevent, or even reverses this natural process, the little fungus might slow it down. Older Chinese people use it to boost energy. Studies on laboratory mice show it seems to improve memory and even extend lifespan. The lingering question is whether tests on humans will produce similar results, but no recognized tests have taken place so far.
3. Could be very useful in diabetes management
Another medical use that deserves further investigation is the potential benefit of cordyceps for people with Type 2 diabetes. When the body cannot make enough insulin or doesn’t respond quickly enough to insulin, dangerous levels of glucose can build up in the blood. Some natural treatment experts believe cordyceps could act like insulin and keep blood sugar levels within safe limits. Laboratory tests on mice show cordyceps can lower blood sugar levels. Researchers hope to see the same results in humans.
4. Might fight kidney disease
Medical researchers are constantly on the lookout for treatments to relieve symptoms of kidney disease. Kidney problems can develop due to diabetes, but whatever the cause, cordyceps may improve patients’ conditions. This theory is still only speculative. In studies, patients with chronic kidney disease found their kidneys worked better after they used cordyceps, but there are legitimate questions about the quality of these research projects. Maybe additional studies will provide solid evidence for the medical profession’s needs.
5. Could reduce the risk of asthma attacks
Medical studies suggest cordyceps could be a suitable addition to anti-inflammatory medications. Research indicates the fungus effectively fights proteins that trigger inflammation, much like those that trigger asthma attacks. Once again, all of these findings come from experiments performed on laboratory mice. In one test, the fungi reduced skin inflammation. How well these treatments work on humans, and how much they improve on standard anti-inflammatory approaches, are still open questions.
6. Cardiovascular health benefits
Heart attacks now one of the leading causes of mortality in western countries. Not surprisingly, medical researchers are keen to investigate new ways to lower risks. Cordyceps attract their interest since some animal studies show they help lower dangerous LDL cholesterol levels. Excessive levels of LDL could lead to blockages of arteries and, as a result, heart problems. In China, doctors use cordyceps to treat arrhythmia, but western doctors want to see solid scientific evidence from human trials before they give their stamp of approval.
7. Enhances athletic performance
There are serious concerns about athletes in international sports events cheating with the use of various performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps using cordyceps could be an acceptable alternative for raising their energy levels! Tests on adults and young people show cordyceps prompt the body to produce more of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This compound is vital for supplying energy to the muscles.
8. Offers relief from fatigue
Even if you are not planning to compete in any athletic competitions, you might want to take advantage of cordyceps’ energy-boosting properties. A natural way to overcome fatigue, this is one popular use for cordyceps in China. It will not relieve fatigue, however, if this lack of energy is symptomatic of a serious illness. Cordyceps are more suited to helping you get through a very tiring day or strenuous activity.
9. Might be an effective cure for chronic bronchitis
Another medical application that has been attracting attention is the potential for cordyceps to help relieve chronic bronchitis. The same anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk of asthma could also treat bronchitis. Anyone taking prescription medicine for bronchitis should first consult with their doctor before starting to take cordyceps. Although they seem harmless enough, it pays to err on the side of caution.
10. Enhances immune system operations
Given the immune system’s central role protecting the body from illnesses, it makes sense to improve its functionality. Believers in traditional Chinese medicine point out several ways in which this fungus benefits the immune system. For example, they say cordyceps improve liver performance in patients with Hepatitis B. They also claim they help detoxify the body from the poisons generated by liver disease. The fungus may also boost the body’s ability to fight off viruses.